If you donít have a really old machine, I donít see the real benefits.
A proper Sandy E system will set you back anywhere from $ 1700 for the Quad Core 3920, to $2100 upwards for the 6 core 3930. Including GTX 580 3GB and a peppy PSU to allow for some expandability.
Both CPUs can overclock quite a bit, but I think the 3920 is locked and will cap @ 4.5GHz or so. I believe a 1155 i7 2600K will be a better choice if you think the 3930K is above your budget and you donít plan on 2x or more GPUs (the 2011 series has more PCIe lanes) and you project the performance increase including O/C speeds, as the 2600k overclocks a bit better and itís a bit . Otherwise the two quad processors are pretty much equal. And I really donít know how much faster those would be from what you have now.
I do believe tho that a GTX580 3GB would be a nice addition to your arsenal (current system) if you donít have something serious already, and want to get into Vray RT GPU/iRay.
Teslas and Quadros with more than 3GBs are simply out of reach IMHO. Donít think those worth the money ($4000 and upwards). Anything less than that, is actually slower or has less mem than the GTX 580 3GB. The C2050 is 3GB / 448 cores, vs. GTX 580ís 512 and retails for 4-5 times more than the Geforce. Thatís as much as the whole Sandy E system with the GTX included.
Want a more aggressive ďideaĒ to spent $2100-2300 on that will probably help you workflow more? The "computer cluster farm in a IKEA Helmer" idea has been around for some time now.
In modern internals:
AMD FX-4100 Zambezi 3.6GHz 95W Quad - $110 (edit: the 6x core FX-6100 is actually $130)
ASRock 880GM-LE FX AM3+ AMD 880G - $60
Crucial 2x 4GB DDR3 1600 - $37
Antec 450W - $40
WD 160GB 7200rpm 2.5" - $65
Each will be around $340 with tax. $2060 if you go for 6x nodes. LAN Cables, 8port switch, Helmer etc will be a bit more, but you get the picture.
These Quads are not as powerful as an i7, but those do overclock up to 4.5-4.6 GHz with cheap aircoolers (pretty much the same with the 6100), and you get 24 cores (or 36). Now that's some raw power for rendering overnight...or over the hour
EDIT: trying to get a workstation myself (working on i7 laptop since I've moved in the US for school), and browsing for 2600K/z68 or 3920-30/x79 configs with GTX gpu(s) for RT that easily break $1500-2200 just for the tower, it's impressive to see that I can buy 24-30 cores >4GHz for the same amount of money as a single i7/Geforce box. I would still get the i7 box as my actual workstation, but the AMD cluster can be build over time as a rendering farm.
Cheap Quadros cannot justify their cost vs. AMD offerings imho if it is just for viewport acceleration, and for CUDA are not faster than the GTXs either. I'm also not "buying" the "gaming cards are not designed for vigorus usage, while Quadros are". It's the same piece of hardware, and I could bet that hi-end gaming cards are +)*!#$(_ stressed for amazing lengths of time by their users, being overclocked with uber settings for games etc...surely it's not @ 100% all the time, but neither are Quadros, and designs that are modified from the ref. boards for GTX usually have improved cooling - unlike Quadros that are 99.9% based on ref.
So - the big question: does anybody have bench-marked / timed either of the Zambezi chips (quad or 6-core)? How far behind would those be vs. say an i5 2500 or equiv? Some food for our wet dreams . I did not find more than the xbitlabs review
The 6100 is not a big upgrade over the 4100, but still you see some improvement. Both are about 55-60% the speed of a i5 2500. That's actually pretty justifiable, as a similar node/cluster featuring i5 processors is about 40% more expensive (heavily dependant on the MoBo chosen for the i5, it's about $2800 with a pretty limited as far as RAM configuration H61 Asus mobo and 2500k, you are realistically looking at $3000 for a newer chipset mAtx - always for the 6-node-cluster). Or you can chose to build a 5-node cluster with i5s for similar cost. Still pretty peppy bang for your buck over any Xeon or i7 "Renderbox"...