Gamers love to push technology to the extreme and that is why you find ordinary processors are overclocked. This is done to provide that extra boost for playing resource demanding games. It is no surprise to learn that gamers are actually interested to know if a processor Intel built primarily for servers and workstations can be viable for a gaming computer.
Before we answer the question above, it is important to learn a little more about Intel Xeon.
Brief History of Intel Xeon
As a brand of x86 processors built and promoted by Intel, Xeon was primarily marketed to the business community. Unlike other x86 processors built by Intel – Pentium, and Core – Xeon runs on workstations and embedded systems.
The Xeon processor was first introduced in the market in 2008 and had the same architecture as an ordinary desktop processor. There were subtle differences between the two. Unlike the desktop processor, Xeon has the ECC memory and higher core counts.
As a result, the processor is capable of supporting more memory – both cache and RAM. Also, it is able to handle hardware exceptions via the machine check system.
Are there shortcomings of Xeon as a desktop processor?
Despite being a powerful processor, there are several reasons why Xeon is typically not the best CPU for gaming.
Related: If you are looking at buying a Xeon CPU for gaming we recommend you invest in good thermal paste, which typically increases cooling performance over stock thermal compounds and is fairly cheap to purchase.
For starters, Xeon has lower clock rates when compared to desktop processors. As you already know, servers run multiple tasks in parallel compared to ordinary PCs and so, the number of cores is better than clock rates.
Xeon processors do not have an integrated GPU, unlike desktop PCs. With an integrated GPU, gamers are able to play a wide variety of games especially those that do not demand a lot of processing power. Problem is they cannot do so at the highest setting. That is not all. With the integrated GPU in place, gamers have the option of adding a discrete GPU card in the PCI slot with a higher capacity and performance. This means gamers can now play their favorite games at the highest setting.
Lastly, we have the overclocking feature. Xeon processors cannot be overclocked, unlike desktop processors which can. Overclocking is a process where computer users configure desktop processors to work faster. To ensure this is possible, users always increase the voltage required by the component. This helps to ensure that the processor is stable at the new accelerated speed. What you ought to know is that despite desktop processors being tolerant of overclocking, they have finite limits.
Is Intel Xeon Worth it for Gaming?
What you will be surprised to know is that despite the shortcomings above, Xeon is actually a favorite processor for a few extreme gamers. There are several reasons why extreme gamers choose Xeon over Core.
The first reason why extreme gamers opt for Xeon over Core (i7) is that the former has the potential of more core count. While Xeon cannot be overclocked unlike the Core, the potential for more core count means it can handle several tasks compared to Core which is a plus for gamers.
The other reason is the lower price to performance ratio especially when it comes to total computing power.
So, is buying a Xeon processor for your gaming system worth it?
In August 2018, Acer announced that it will be selling the Predator X, a new dual Xeon workstation. This new gaming system comes with ECC memory and a few graphics card. Announcing the new gaming system at the IFA 2018, Acer officials said that the Predator X is for content creators, for streaming and gamers.
As a dual CPU system, it relies on the Non-Uniform Memory System or Architecture. Without this, the processors could cause additional latency.
To answer the question – Is Intel Xeon Worth it for Gaming?
No, it’s not. If you were to take a look at the price of the Xeon processor used for the Predator X, one processor goes for $5,000 or more. Since it’s a dual system, you have to fork out $10,000 or more. If you add other components such as a better GPU, or RAM, SSD, HDD, CPU cooling system, display screen, webcam, gaming mouse and keyboard, the price could easily reach $15,000 for the whole system.
That’s just too extreme even for extreme gamers. Even if Intel was to build a lower end model since Xeon is not compatible with consumer grade motherboards. Since it is not compatible with gaming motherboards, it will lead to poor game performance.
So, I recommend that gamers should stick to consumer approved Intel processors that is Core (i7). Not only is it compatible with mainstream gaming motherboards but you can overclock it to boost performance.