Looking at all the tests in this article, beyond the individual scores and nuances, there is another clear message coming through. Whilst you can get some benefit from extra clock speed in some cases, there is no perceptible advantage from multiple cores. So, for modelling purposes, any reasonable Core i7 or Xeon platform in your price range will be suitable, although the overclocked Core i7 provides the best performance for your money, and a noticeable boost with some software, particularly SolidWorks.
You get greater or less benefit from graphics choice, depending on the application, but if modelling or real-time visualisation is your main aim, the graphics card should be the central focus of your budget.
On the other hand, in our previous article, it was also clear that the number of cores affects parallel tasks like rendering in a relatively linear way. The more you have, the faster the render, and a faster clock only goes a little way towards offsetting this. A 14-core Intel Xeon running at 2.6GHz nominally will complete a render in about half the time of a six-core Intel Core i7 running at 3.3GHz, although raising the latter’s clock speed to 4.4GHz provides 25 per cent more rendering power. Most tellingly, the 14-core Xeon is about 37 per cent faster than a 10-core one running at the same core speed, almost exactly what you would expect for four more cores.
So it’s not all bad news for a multi-core Xeon when it comes to 3D modelling with the applications covered by SPECviewperf, and if your workflow includes using the workstation for rendering out rather than sending this over to a separate render farm, a Xeon with lots of cores is still well worth considering. In our next article, we will be focusing specifically on 3ds Max with the SPECapc benchmark and AutoCAD with the Cadalyst benchmark. So stay tuned for our next in-depth installment, to find out how the graphics-CPU balance plays out with these applications.
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Kitguru says: You get no benefit from extra cores when modelling, although a faster core clock can provide some boost. Not surprisingly, your budget should focus on the graphics card if modelling is your main activity.