Living with Intel?s V8 Workstation and AMD?s 4×4

Intel dropped off their V8 workstation the other day, which truly is a workstation and not a typical gamer rig by any stretch of the imagination. However, this technology will have worked itself into game systems by year’s end, so I think it is important to give you a sense of what ultimate power will mean by that time.

Currently, my primary box is an AMD Quadzilla with a couple of noisy fans that will be history as soon as I can find time to open up the case and swap them out again. It’s a nice box and has a lot of performance overhead. For instance, as I’m writing this, I’m running a full screen DVD background in full motion on both of my 24” screens, and I’m hardly moving the performance meter from its base levels. I can bring up a video game and still do e-mail, run the movie, and have loads of remaining headroom, but if I add transcoding, this system will max out. Unfortunately, I do a lot of transcoding (I like to watch movies on my Zune when I travel).

When I move to the V8, the only way I can even get it close to its limits is to start a massive workstation application that analyzes DNA. Even with it running and all 8 cores at 99%, there is still enough headroom to run a video game. While I do see occasional frame drops, this is a level of performance that is well ahead of anything else on the market.

Living with 8 Cores

Having what amounts to unlimited headroom is damned nice. You don’t have to think about shutting stuff down if you want to do something else, you can multi-task everything, begin virus scans whenever you want, run video games (several at once if you want), watch TV or movies, and generally fry your brain, depending on your attention span and your tolerance level for distraction.

The speed under Vista Ultimate is impressive (only Ultimate supports two processors). This is a workstation class system, so the data pipes are fat; you can even run two Ethernet cables into two-gigabit Ethernet ports to push the limits of your network or anyone else’s. It doesn’t support SLI, Crossfire, or PCI cards, so upgrading the really basic sound and adding extra USB ports isn’t on the short list of easy-to-do things.

But man, if you want raw power for video encoding, transcoding, editing, or planning your next moon launch, this puppy screams performance.

Comparing the V8 to the 4X4

Let’s be clear: I wouldn’t toss either one of these machines out of my office. I like them both a lot, but they are different. The AMD is a gaming rig with good sound that supports SLI and is better designed for that use. It is also a good workhorse box, and you have to work to find any headroom issues with it.

The Intel is fine for gaming, and as it is configured with an 8800 card versus two 7900 GTX cards in the 4×4, graphics performance is near identical. It lacks expansion and it is one expensive puppy. But, if you are into video or photography or just want to have something no one else will have for some time, this is the box for you.

Both will impress the neighbors and both will probably draw a small crowd at a LAN party if you dress them up a bit.

Both products also showcase Vista better (I think) than a dual core offering does. Vista was designed to scale, and XP doesn’t seem to like it much when you move beyond 2 cores.

Mid-year, AMD is expected to announce their own quad-core offing, and Intel will likely have a V8 that is more consumer-friendly (both in terms of configuration and price). You watch: next Christmas, eight cores and four video cards will be the rig to lust after, and I’m hoping there will be at least one game that will push such a rig. It probably will literally blow my mind.

We’ll see. For now, I’m going back to my movie, my e-mail, my video transcoding, and my therapist, because all of this activity is driving me nuts and I seem to think that is a good thing.

The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not reflect the beliefs of Digital Trends.


How the Google Stadia could lead to a new era of multi-GPU gaming

Google's Stadia could use more than one graphics card to deliver the high-performance visuals it's promised. If that leads to better developer support for multi-GPUs, could that mean gaming with two or more graphics cards could finally be…

5G's arrival is transforming tech. Here's everything you need to know to keep up

It has been years in the making, but 5G is finally becoming a reality. While 5G coverage is still extremely limited, expect to see it expand in 2019. Not sure what 5G even is? Here's everything you need to know.
Buying Guides

Apple has powered up its iMac lineup, but which one should you opt for?

With new processors and graphics cards for both the 4K and 5K models, the iMac feels like a good option for creatives again. But which should you buy? Here's our guide to choosing the right Apple all-in-one for your needs.

HP’s spring sale cuts prices on the 15-inch Spectre x360 by $270

Looking for a new laptop to start off the spring season? HP has you covered and is currently running a sale that is cutting $270 off the price of the 15-inch touchscreen variant of its Spectre X360 Windows 10 convertible laptop. 

EA is losing out on the true potential of Titanfall studio with ‘Apex Legends’

Apex Legends is a solid battle royale game, but one can’t shake the feeling that its creation was dictated by Respawn’s new owners: Electronic Arts. In the process, the studio’s soul could be lost.

The 'Anthem' demo's crash landing raises more questions than answers

Bioware bravely allowed gamers to see a large chunk of 'Anthem' over two demo weekends, but it backfired. Lackluster missions, performance issues, and muddled messaging over micro-transactions leaves the game with an uphill battle.

In the age of Alexa and Siri, Cortana’s halo has grown dim

In a sea of voice assistants, Cortana has become almost irrelevant. The nearly five-year-old voice assistant is seeing little love from consumers, and here’s why it is dead.

Apex Legends proves battle royale is no fad. In fact, it’s just getting started

Apex Legends came out of nowhere to take the top spot as battle royale in 2019, and it now looks as if it'll be the biggest game of the year. Its sudden success proves the battle royale fad still has plenty of life left in it.
Home Theater

Apple is arming up to redefine TV just like it did the phone

Curious about what Apple's answer to Netflix will be? Us too. So we combed through some patents, and looked at the landscape, to come up with a bold prediction: Apple's streaming service will be way bigger than anyone thinks.
Home Theater

How the headphone jack helps Samsung out-Apple the king

Samsung’s latest flagship phones and wearables unveiled at the Galaxy Unpacked event had plenty of exciting new tech. But one of the most useful features Samsung revealed is also the oldest: The mighty headphone jack.

Age of Empires II thrives 20 years later. Here's what Anthem could learn from it

Age Of Empires II is approaching its 20th birthday. It has a loyal following that has grown over the past five years. New always-online games like Anthem would love to remain relevant for so long, but they have a problem. They're just not…

Devil May Cry is Fantastic, but I still want a DmC: Devil May Cry sequel

Capcom's Devil May Cry 5 is one of the best games of 2019 and a welcome return for the series, but its success should not discount just how wonderful Ninja Theory's DmC: Devil May Cry really was.
Smart Home

Alexa may be everywhere, but it’s Google’s Assistant I want in my home. Here’s why

The Amazon Alexa may have the Google Home beat in quantity of skills and compatibility with other products, but does that really matter when Alexa falls flat for day-to-day conversation?

DMC 5’s greatness is a reminder of all the open world games that wasted my time

Devil May Cry 5 modernizes the stylish action combat while retaining its storied PS2 roots. More so, though, it reminded me that we could sure use more linear, single player games to combat the sea of open world games.