Xeon vs. Core: Are Intel’s Expensive CPUs Worth a Premium?

Desktop and headphones on a desk in a dimly lit room.

Apple caused a sensation in June 2019 by introducing a revised Mac Pro desktop computer dripping with processing power and graphics. The main components of the new version of the Mac are the Intel Xeon processors. They range from a three-core, unnamed Xeon W processor, probably (the Xeon W-3223), to another Intel Xeon W processor at 2.5 GHz and 28 cores (probably the Xeon W-3275 or W-3275). 3275M).

The new Mac tower has inspired discussions on the How-To Geek water chiller to see if integrating one of these multicore monsters into your next PC version is worth it.

Let's face it; The new Apple workstation is not realistic for most of us. The price of the new Mac Pro starts at $ 6,000 and goes into "small business loan". New desktops also offer reduced upgrade capabilities due to: proprietary connectors, and they lack the vast gambling potential of the Windows side.

So, should you leave Core i7 and i9 processors behind you to experience the world of Xeon?

Probably not, and here's why.

What is a Xeon processor?

Intel's Xeon processor family is focused on workstations and professional servers. These processors typically offer more cores than traditional PCs, but the clock speeds are a little shady compared to their Core i7 and i9 counterparts.

The Intel Xeon W-3275 / W-3275M, for example, has clock speeds that start at 2.5 GHz and go up to 4.40 GHz, with an additional increase to 4 , 60 GHz under certain loads. Compare that to the popular Core i9-9900K, which has a base clock of 3.60 GHz and a boost of 5.0 GHz. It is clear that the clock speeds of the Core i9-9900K are much better for the average PC user.

The Intel Xeon processor.Intel

Then you have the Xeon W-3223. It is also a 16-wire eight-core chip, such as the Core i9-9900K, but its clock speed is above 4.0 GHz and its recommended retail price is about $ 250 higher than the i9- 9900K. In short, the Xeon clock speeds can be close to or higher than an upper central part.

Where Xeon's rules are electricity draw and heat generation – and not in a good way. Xeon chips are much more energy hungry and become much hotter. The 28-core, 56-core Xeon W-3275M, for example, has a thermal computing power (TDP) of 205 watts and the W-3223, a TDP of 160 watts. The i9-9900K, meanwhile, has a TDP of 95 watts.

You can get closer to the Xeon with something like the Core i9-9960X with 16 cores, 32 hearts prosumers, with a TDP of 165 watts. Nevertheless, the vast majority of Core i7 and i9 parts do not have these higher power and heat considerations.

Why are Xeons more expensive?

Xeon processors generally have a much more integrated and essential technology. For example, they support Error-Corring Code (ECC) memory, which prevents data corruption and system failures. ECC RAM is also more expensive and slower. As a result, few home users find the compromise worthwhile because personal computers are quite reliable.

For businesses where availability is critical, even a few hours can cost a lot more than ECC memory. Take financial trading, for example, when transactions are made faster than humans can understand. When computers fail or data is corrupted, these companies lose a lot of money. That's why they are willing to invest in specialized technologies.

Xeon processors also support much more RAM than Core chips, as well as lots of PCIe tracks for connecting expansion cards.

So when you add a bunch of cores, support for ECC, tons of PCIe lanes, and lots of RAM support, the price will be a reflection.

If you ask the most cynical PC enthusiasts, however, they will tell you that Intel charges a hefty price for Xeon because it can. Everything that is built for business tends to cost more than a consumer equipment.

Should I buy a Xeon for my PC?

Intel Core i9 processor on a blue background.Intel Core i9 processors.

Up to now, Xeon looks pretty good: tons of cores, respectable clock speeds (in some cases) and lots of PCIe lanes. Heck, the power problem is just an invitation to work on a custom cooling setup, right?

May be. But Xeons is not the best choice for the average home user.

If you're interested in a Xeon processor for processor-intensive workloads, or if you need 24/7 availability without your computer being fried in a few weeks, then Xeons is worth it a deviation. However, if it is more games, you spend a lot of money for almost no return.

When critics looked at the $ 3,000 Xeon W-3175X "desktop" processor beginning of 2019, most were using productivity benchmarks where the Xeon was still doing well, but then they were doing it against Core processors in game tests. The results often had the Core i9-9900K beat or just behind the Xeon W-3175X, with a few exceptions. And it was against a 28-core processor and 56 threads.

But these hearts were less important for modern games because, at one point, the highest frequencies of the period 199900K (clock speed) were larger than hearts for games. There are certainly processor-related games where it pays to have more cores (most players should have at least a four-core processor and eight threads), but the clock speed combined with the CPI (instructions per cycle) is usually the most important measure.

You can overclock a Xeon W-3175X and the processor may outperform the core performance of the i9-9900K, but you can also overclock the Core i9. The W-3175X is also an on-board box, as fewer Xeons are unlocked for overclocking, giving the Core parts another advantage.

So, when a Core i9-9900K costs less than $ 500 and a ripping Xeon costs multiple multiples, offering little to no performance gain, Xeon does not make much sense for the games .

The day will come when it is important to have a significant number of hearts for the game, but for now, most players will continue to thrill four-core machines.

Who should buy a Xeon?

As Intel marketing says, these chips are only for workstations and servers. Even the Xeon W-3175X desktop is for 3D artists, game developers and video editors.

If you work in one of these professions or if you are a prosumer enthusiast in one of these areas, the Xeon processor is for you.

For other users, a Core i7 or i9 is the solution.

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