If you are using one physical CPU based PC (single socket) then go for Corei7 Nehalem based CPU. If you want two physical CPUs in your PC then you have to get the Nehalem based Xeons. Core i7s can’t be used in pairs, they are for single socket PC use only.
Clock for clock there is no difference between Nehalem based Xeons or i7 CPUs. sweet spot currently is i7 920 overclocked to 3.3-3.6GHZ. Very easily done from what I understand.
EDIT- I am talking about Nehalem based cpus (xeon and i7), and not older non-Nehalem based Xeons.
I don’t know specifically about those machines, but from my past obervations, workstations have always had better cooling, beefier components and expandability in addition to configurable options like graphics cards. Keep in mind, when selecting a consumer class pc, they aren’t designed to crank full bore for 8 hours, where workstations tend to have better power supplies, fans, and more interior “flow through” for long hot days of rendering and CAD>
The on paper specs may seem equivalent, but the workstations will perform better for longer. This may be changing, but that was always my impression. I’d love to know if this is still mostly true.
There are a lot of differences between workstation class machines and consumer class machines.
At the end of the day you can get 99% of your job done with a consumer machine just fine.
The main differences between workstation class machines and consumer machines are:
GPU options (Workstation class GPU’s tend to have better CAD app support)
Memory - Workstations use ECC error correcting memory and will generally have many more slots for a higher memory capacity, as well as support for memory risers (if you’re one of the 3 people on earth who needs 128 gigs of ram)
Better RAID and hard drive options usually include support for SAS (SCSI) drives that you won’t find on consumer machines.
With all that said - if you’re running Rhino and Hypershot you should be able to get away just fine with a i7, and a $150 Geforce video card.
Just to clarify to OP my post was talking ONLY about the CPUs. I build my own workstaion so no idea what parts are inside the two branded machines you are interested in.
You can build your own machine with quality parts and it will work as good or better than any of the Dell workstations. If you get a good power supply, MOBO. RAM then your PC will work 24/7 365 days no problem.
If you are too scared to build yourself then I would reccomend BOXX computers. Atleast they use quality parts unlike Dell and co.
I have no expereince building my own box but if someone listed the parts to get I’d give it a try… =)
How much money can you expect to save?
I don’t know if a stock Core i7 Studio XPS in the small black case from Dell can accept a Nvidia workstation class graphics card like the Quadro FX 1800? Will teh power supply allow be able to power it and will the case stay cool enough on it’s own?
You should be able to power the video card just fine. Quadro FX hardware is literally the same or lower end then most Nvidia gaming hardware. You’re generally paying for the workstation certified drivers. You can always call Dell or review the spec sheets to see what the power supply is rated at and make sure there is at least 1 6 pin connector (or two 4 pins) available.
With that said I just put in a Quadro 4800 and the real time renderings in Showcase are ridiculous.
Forget Precision for your needs. Although I have no idea what components are inside the XPS. I mean what wattage powe supply is in it? It’s super cheap for a reason.
The benefit of building myself is that I put in quality components so I don’t have any headache down the road. For your needs something like ths would be ok-
CPU- i7 920
Asus P6T Mobo
Corsair CMPSU-850Watt PSU
2x Corsair 3x2GB memory kit (You can start with 6GB though)
Vista work 64Bit
WD VelociRaptor 10’000rpm
Case- For looks and future dual MOBO setups (full tower)-
Silverstone TemJin SST-TJ07-S, Aluminium OR a smaller one for cheaper.
Video card- Get any decent gaming card.