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Is this processor worth the extra cost?

Posted on 2011-09-07
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Last Modified: 2012-05-12
I'm looking to configure a desktop for Revit, a BIM application.  Unfortunately I have a limited budget.  A large cost savings can be in the processor.  I'm looking at the difference between Intel Xeon X5647 and Intel Xeon E3-1245.  There is a difference in the Clock Speed, Bus/Core Ratio, a HUGE difference in Max Memory Size and different sockets supported.  

http://ark.intel.com/compare/52580,52274

The processor is the major configuration difference between a Dell T550 and Dell T1600. (Same RAM, video card and hard drive configuration)  The T5500 estimate cost is $4500 while the T1600 is $2000.   Is the processor worth the cost difference?

Thank you
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Question by:ka_inc
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8 Comments
 
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Expert Comment

by:rindi
ID: 36496925
I'd probably go for the E3-1245, unless you really need the power of the other Processor. There are a couple of advantages of the E3-1245, it has integrated Graphics, and it uses less power, so in the long run it conserves the environment and Power consumption.
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Assisted Solution

by:Callandor
Callandor earned 166 total points
ID: 36496977
I can't find a benchmark for the X5647, but the X5667 should be a faster model, and it is rated at 6313  (http://www.cpubenchmark.net/cpu_list.php).  By contrast, the E3-1245 is rated at 8651, and is one of the fastest processors available.  The two are not far enough apart to justify a doubling in price.
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Expert Comment

by:andyalder
ID: 36497004
CPU benchmark is pretty useless unless you're performing vector graphics calculations, real world apps that aren't doing heavy duty maths aren't generally that reliant on CPU speed but on amount of RAM and I/O.
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Accepted Solution

by:
garycase earned 167 total points
ID: 36497018
The performance of the Sandy Bridge CPU's is amazing for their cost, as you've noted.

The key difference in these systems is the triple-channel bufferred RAM you can use with the X5647 system.     If your memory needs are modest -- ideally with only 2 modules for the unbuffered RAM system (E3) -- then you'll be fine with it ... and can save significant dollars.

If you think you'll want to install more prodigious amounts of RAM at some point, that's a BIG advantage for the X5647 system with buffered RAM.

Bottom line:   the T5500 is clearly a better system, but it's major advantage is the triple channel memory operation and buffered RAM -- NOT CPU performance.     If you're okay with 8GB of RAM, you could get the T1600 with 2 4GB modules and have a good, reliable system at a much lower cost.
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Assisted Solution

by:bwiser1
bwiser1 earned 167 total points
ID: 36502409
I had an issue with a customer running Revit Architecture on a fairly new Dell Precision System. This was a mid-level Xeon at the time. He felt that it ran slowly on his x86 XP build. He had only 4gb of memory and a mid-level ($250 or so) Video card.

We ended up installing XP x64, moving to 8gb and replacing his video card with a much better unit. The reason I mention this, is that contrary to popular belief, the CPU is not the weakest link. If you've got a decent processor (i7, Xeon etc.,) you will benefit more from more and quality memory and the addition of a CAD certified video card.

I would say that you will probably want to go with a platform that will allow you to run a little more ram (I would be looking to run around 16gb) and a high end video card if it were me on a Xeon system. That's just my $.02 but it will be the difference between an expensive resource being productive, and happy vs someone getting paid to sit there and wait and be disatisfied their employer won't pay for a decent machine (regardless of the cost)

I think it's important to say that just because a system is/was costly that it was the right machine for the job.

Good luck and let us know how you fare.
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Author Comment

by:ka_inc
ID: 36530442
Thank you for your input.  They were very helpful.
I have tested several configurations for Revit and found  that it's a balance between the CPU, Video Card, and RAM.  We are getting 16GB of RAM, (tried 24 GB RAM - didn't make a significant difference in a test for the cost) and have a CAD recommended video card (tried the Quadro 4000 and 2000 - the 2000 works just as well as the 4000), it was the CPU with the BUS, Sockets, Clock Speed etc that had me stumped.  We are trying the Xeon E3-1245 because of it's onboard video capacity.  My Revit guru found that Revit uses cpu for when in view while it uses the video card when rendering.  Since most of the time is spend in view, we decided to explore this option.

 If it was one or two, I would not hesitate but we are a small company looking to purchase a couple of dozen.  The cost difference is significant for us.

Again thanks to everyone for your imput.
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LVL 56

Expert Comment

by:andyalder
ID: 36532607
Detailed knowledge of the "Revit" app is needed by the looks of it, I can't help there, I just know that cpubenchmark.com only tests one parameter of the half dozen you need to make the decision.
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