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Dual Xeon or AMD


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Hello guys,


I need some advise. If you have to pick between a Dual 2.0GZ Xeon and a Dual AMD MP2100+ workstation which one would you get? The difference in price is only $200 dollars more for the Dual Xeon which come with a 3DLabs Wildcat II 5110. The AMD has a Quadro4 XGL 700. I personally think the Dual Xeon would be the best option but I thought I would post this question here before I go a head and buy it. I will appreciate any help.




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When I was buying my first dual processor computer almost 3 years ago I did a very extensive research. Comparing dual Athlon 2000+ and dual Xeons 2.2GHz (they were top of the line at that time) Athlons won in rendering, also they were cheaper. Althoght graphics cards performed better on Intel (Xeon) machines. I ended up purchasing dual Athlon 2000+ with 1Gb RAM and Quadro 4 900XGL, which I still use without a problem and very happy.

Also take alook at this thread...


These machines are pretty old (but very well made).

The only reason one would buy them is price...

One more thing... single Pentium4 3.6 GHz is probably equal or faster than dual Athlon 2100+ in rendering, but MUCH faster in graphics and single threaded applications... Go figure...

Good luck.

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Three months ago I went throught the same analysis as you are going now. I decided for dual OPTERON's 250. I was going to do dual XEON's 3.6ghz but at last minute I listened to all the guys that think the AMD's are cheaper and perhaps better and I changed my plan.


For jumping my plan last minute I made some judgement mistakes that costed over a $2,000.00 to correct. At the end the machine was fast but I always had the bug of what about the Xeon's.


To clear my brains of any doubt's, two months ago I assembled a dual Xeon with 3.6ghz and all the same components I used on the AMD except the video card. My conclusion is that there is very little difference between the two machines..... perhaps millisecond's. You will not notice, only the SoftSandra or MArk V benchmarking test will notice the difference. By the way the benchmarks says my Opteron's can process data faster but the video and storage capabilities of the Xeon's is better. At then the throughput is basically the same.


Stick to the XEON's. The darn AMD's are not supported as well as the XEON's. The current generation of motherboards and chipsets for the AMD is more than a generation old and already obsolete for a 3D person. There is no motherboard available for the AMD Opteron that has PCI Express Video. They only go to AGP 8x. Supposedely they will be out by Jan or Feb. By then it will be too late.


While there is no modern current motherboard for the AMD's, there is plenty of very modern current motherboards for the XEON's. Even if the difference is 10 to 20%, at the end I would stick to the XEON's because the motherboard and chipset support.


This is a very passionate subject and a million people will claim the opposite story is better because they can save $200.00. They spend thousands on computers, softwares amd books at Barnes and Nobles but they penny saving for $200.00. Stick to the Xeon's!


I love my AMD and perhaps I use it more than the Xeon. There is people that claim that when they come out with the 64 bit OS for Windows these AMD's will max out the Xeon. Sound's good.... by the time that happens we will have the dual core cpu's with us and this strategy of the 64 bit OS will not be valid.


Get as much memory you can afford (although there is a 4gb limitation on Windows) and get the best Video Card you can get.... I like my Quadro's. If you can put a RAID array do it. I have dual Raid's on both machines. I have a SSCI raid array for the OS and the software and then a SATA Raid array for the storage. The machines are fast.


By the way, builiding your machine can save money. However, sometimes I am not to sure of the savings. I like assembling the machines becasue I like to know what I have "under the hood". I think you can save money as opposed to buying an expensive BOXX unit. If you shop around you will find a lot of smaller shops that will assemble the unit for 50 to a 100 dollars. The advantage of that is that you save money by not having to test the components yourself. Example, I bought the recommended memory for my motherboard. Unknown to Tyan, both Mushkin and Corsair had DDR memory with better speed ratings that was not being published. The store accepted my return to exchange the memory but they charged me 20% re-stocking fee. That is 20% of $2,000.00 of memory. The same with the video cards.... the same with the Power Supply.... (don't get a power supply less than 550 watts) At the end all the xperimentation costed me two weeks of work and about $2,500.00.


I am still happy and I will do it again. I like putting the units together... it is like a hobby. I used these machines for about a year and then I sell them to both of my brothers and the I repeat the cycle again.


Good Luck


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isagreg and Elliot,


Thank you so much for your comments. I figured I better stick to the Xeon. I am trying to get some CPU power and I love the idea of using the HT technology that Xeons offer. I am planing to buy a used Dell workstation, 2.5 years old. (My bugets if very low right now because of all the christmas shopping I did this month :p)

Here are the specs for the PC I will be buying.


Processor 1 P4 Xeon 2.0GHz / 400Mhz FSB / 512KB L2

Processor 2 P4 Xeon 2.0GHz / 400Mhz FSB / 512KB L2

Memory 1GB (2x 512Mb) ECC in dual channel RAMBUS

Hard drive 1 36.7 GB 10,000 RPM Ultra160 LVD SCSI

SCSI Controller integrated Adaptec AIC-7892 Ultra 160 LVD

Optical drive internal IDE CDRW

Floppy Yes

Video card 3DLabs Wildcat II 5110 144MB of Ram Professional Graphic

Sound integrated AC97, SoundBlaster emulation, int. Speaker

Network integrated 3Com 10/100

Power supply 460 Watts | 90 to 135V; 180 to 265V; auto-switching

Expansion Bus 1 4x/2x Pro110 AGP, 3 32-bit PCI, 2 64-bit PCI

I/O Ports REAR: 2 Serial, Parallel, Ethernet, 2 P/S2, 2 USB, Fire Wire IEEE 1394, .Audio (in-out-mic).


FRONT: 2 USB, Fire Wire IEEE 1394, Audio (out)


Physical Height 19.3 in, Width 8.7 in, Depth 19.2


Any last minute thoughts?


Thanks again,


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I like Dell workstations, I think they are very well built machines - very reliable. I bought a precision 470 with dual xeon 3.0 ghz and I could not be happier. hyper threading makes the render goes 4 times faster than a conventional single cpu. And the best thing of all the fans are quiet.


If I might ask where do you buy used dell workstations with dual xeons?

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I've also got a dual AMD Opteron 248 system and I've never had any problems with it. I've got a dual Xeon 2GHz system and my AMD system is at least 3 times faster than it is. Personally I think that no one is going to see the true speed of the Opteron systems until the 64 bit OS comes out next year. My theory has always been the 64 bit systems are the better buy just because when the 64 bit OS comes out you will get a performance gain between 20 and 50%. If you go with the 32 bit systems you’re going to be out of luck and will have to wait till the next round of upgrades before you can even catch up.

As for windows having a 4 gig limit, I think it's actually 2 Gigs. I have 3 gigs in my machine but windows can only see 2 gigs, I've tried using the 3 gig switch that has been floating around but I've never been able to get windows to work using it.

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Here are the Dual AMD workstation specs I mentioned at the begining of the thread: Would you still go for the Dell? I am about to close the deal.





Boxx Model 3DBOXX R1s

Case: Aluminum / brushed aluminum designed for maximum airflow

CPU: Dual Athlon MP2100+ (1.73 MHz) installed

Motherboard: AMD Tyan Thunder K7 model S2462 with

- (5) 64/32-bit PCI slots

- (1) AGP Pro slot

- AMD 760MP Chipset

- Dual-channel Ultra160 SCSI controller

- 200/266Mhz Front side bus

- RAM: 1 GB Registered SDRAM installed (2 sticks of 512MB installed, up to 4GB capable)

OS: Microsoft Windows XP Pro installed

(1) Nvidia Quadro 4 700 XGL dual head video card. 4X AGP, 64MB DDR.

(1) Creative Labs PCI 128 sound card

(1) 80GB Maxtor DiamondMax Plus D740X 6L080J4 7200 Fast ATA drive

(1) 18GB Quatum Atlas 10K RPM SCSI

(1) Sony DVD+RW/+R CD-RW 2.4x Write DRU-120A

(1) Internal ZIP 250 drive

(1) 1.44MB Floppy Drive

(2) 10/100 Onboard Ethernet LAN controllers

(4) USB ports, 2 front and 2 rear

(3) Cooling fans

(3) 3.5" Exposed drive bays

(2) 5.25" Exposed drive bays

Serial / Parallel / Keyboard / Mouse connectors



Up to 4.7 GB Capacity with DVD+RW and DVD+R media

2.4X Recording (DVD+RW and DVD+R), 8X Reading (Max.)

12X CD-R Recording (Max.) 10 X CD-RW Recording (Max.) 32X Reading (Max.)

Read more specs from Sony by clicking here.



Boxx Tower Workstation

AC Power cord



Windows XP Pro CD and Start Here Guide (both in original factory shrink wrap)

Administrator password will be supplied

Microsoft Certificate of Authenticity COA Sticker

Original Boxx box and packing materials

Video Adapter: DVI to SVGA, converts DVI output to standard VGA type connector in case your monitor does not handle DVI input.

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Besides my main workstation which is a Dual Opteron we also bought 5 Renderboxxes form Boxx, they are all the same:


Dual Opteron 244

2 GB DDR333 EEC Ram

80 GB 7200 SATA drive

Windows XP Pro

1 Gigabit ethernet controller


These things are a dream, I really love Boxx! My next workstation is definitely going to come from this company, they make a quality product but they can be a little pricey.

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Of coarse if you compare 3.6GHz Xeons and Opteron 250, then Xeons are MUCH better choice...

But we're talking about OLDER Athlons 2100+ vs Xeons 2GHz. The older Athlons ARE FASTER than older Xeons (especially Xeons with chipset that uses RAMBUS memory).

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My machine will see the 4gb of ram. It will see 2gb on each processors. Is that what you get there or is it my imagination.


I agree, the AMD seems to a tab faster. But the lack of PCI Express does bother me.



Ernesto, That machine you are looking at sounds good. I have 2ghz Toshiba laptop and that thing can do a lot of the thing the workstations are doing.


Somebody at Discreet told me once that software or hardware will not make you a good modeler. I guess it is almost right...



See you


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Ernesto, how much do those machines cost?

If you need them as workstations then probably it would be wiser to go with newer single Pentium 4 with PCI-express video cards?

But if they're just for rendering they'll do fine. Although you don't need a fancy video card (espessially WildCat or Quadro) for a render slave.

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The dual AMD is worth $650.00 and the Dual Xeon $850.00 on ebay. Last night I took sometime to look into the Dell website and found out that they are having end of the year promotion. When buying either a Dell 470 or a Dell 670 workstation you get dual 19" flat monitors and shipping for free!! I might as well buy a new system with a lower end video card and get those two monitors for free. Here is the link http://www1.us.dell.com/content/products/features.aspx/q4wk6_precn_dual_mon?c=us&cs=04&l=en&s=bsd this promotion ends today.

BTW the ebay seller for the Dual xeon told me last night that he looked into the BIOS and found out that the CPUs are HT enable, so that is good. I am still trying to make up my mind over here....Thank you all for your comments.

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That part of the experimentation is what I am talking about. On this high machines everything is so new that nobody knows what they are doing. When I put the AMD together I bought two sticks of 1 Gb each and I put them on slot 1 and 2 of the memory banks, as Tyan recommended on their manual. After talking with a German tech guy on a forum he said that was the wrong way and also asked me to change the bios's to a beta bios published in Germany, 2.02W.


I did all of the above and this time I purchased 4 sticks of 1gb. Put them on slot 1,2,3 and 4 of CPU 1 like Tyan says. The machine was only seing 2gbs. Then on the German site for the Tyan motherboard I found that this machine only recgonizes the memory if you fill in a symetrical manner all the memory slots contrary to Tyan recommendations. They recomended that I go to 8 sticks of 500mb and placed them on CPU 1 - slots 1,2,34 and CPU 2, slots 1,2,3,4. In addition to this you have to activate a line on the boot.ini so the AMD will see the memory. I forgot the exact name for the code... Perhaps it was the NUMA or something like that. There is another software switch you have to activate called the PAE in order for windows to see all the memory. All this is way above my skills, I just followed the instructions on this site and it worked. There was a definite improvement on my benchmarking. On some of the benchmarks the AMD is faster in other the XEON are faster. My feeling is that AMD is faster.... just an un-scientific feeling. When I boot my machine up.... and the bios will post the memory, it says CPU 1 - 2gb and CPU2 - 2gb.


However, does this means that Viz is seeing the memory as 4gb....? I know the machine is seeing it like that. My SolidWORKS program is reporting 4gb. Where do I go on Viz to see how much memory is it addressing....?


I spent a lot of money switching video cards and memory sticks until I got where I wanted. That included fans in order to run the machine cooler. I experimented with two motherboard. The first one was an MSI and the last one was Tyan. Tyan is better. Unfortunately these motherboard have the old chipsets and they do not support the PCI Express video.... so I am stuck with AGP 8X. On the Xeon's I have a PCI Express..... and a better video card... perhaps that's why the images rotate in a very smoth manner.... Microsoft Flight Simulator works better on the XEON's He He He.


If you want to follow the saga of the AMD geeks.... go to:





Regarding the initial thread of Ernesto..... Buy those machines at that price, that's a good deal.... I spent about 6K on each of these machines and I am sure the one you are looking at will do the same thing these one do. These machines was a total waste of money. A regular single CPU machine 2 to 2.5 ghz will approximately do the same. The difference for the money is that maybe.... and only maybe.... these expensive things will be 10 second faster.... I spend more than that amount of time constanly reading the manual on Viz because I am still learning. He he he


The biggest speed problem with my machines, is the part that is seating in front of the computer.... No matter how much money I spend I can't upgrade the memory chips for the 53.75 years old worn out chipset on me.... He he he




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