Processors: old Xeon 3.2 vs. i5



Hi everyone,

I'm poised to get started using Linux and had initially thought I'd probably go for an off-the-shelf desktop with i5 processor, since it's not too bleeding edge, as they say, but capable. I've noticed some eBay sales for old workstations (for example, an HP XW6200) that use a Xeon 3.2 GHz processor, for about half the cost of a comparably-equipped, but newer desktop using i5. (e.g.
From what I can find, HP made these Linux-friendly, but do you think the Xeon would be a good buy? I'm not positive, but the processor seems to date from 2004, although it is specified as capable of running a 64-bit OS. I'm very tempted, but any enlightened tips would be really helpful.



In a comparison an Intel i7-4930K 6 core beat a system with 2 Xeon E7-8837 8 core (16 threads each so 32 threads total) in almost all catagories due to the i7 being at 4 ghz and the E7 at 3 ghz. Also consider the chipset improvements, graphics improvements, increase in ram capacity, mobo improvements, etc. If you want a faster system the i5 is probably better. Unless this is to be a server/heavy workstation. In that case they could be close.... but gaming or multimedia warrants the i5. (starting with kernel 3.6 Intel core class CPUs are fully supported.)
Thanks for that fast reply. We won't make particularly intensive use of the computer. I do translation, and the old 2.16 GHz MacBook struggled with large, say 30,000+ word documents, and streaming video online, for example. Maybe the occasional video or music editing project, but no gaming.

So, either processor would run most distros equally compatibly?

Do you think the workstation would consume much more power than the i5?

I don't really need a fast system, but would like it to last some years, and I'm happy to upgrade RAM or HDs if that makes a difference.
Most Linux distributions should run fine yes. My only concern is that 2 Gb ram, and the Nvidia Quadro graphics. My desktop has a Pentium D @ 4 Ghz and 2 Gb ram. KDE can use up lots of resources but normally I can run it fine. What helps is having a decent graphics card, so I added a Gt 520.

I think that Xeon system will be fine for say Lubuntu, Xubuntu, Arch, and maybe OpenSUSE. If possible upgrade the ram for sure. But remember that the Xeons are already old, and that they will continue to get older. That i5 will be "newer" longer than the Xeons. So it "might" last longer. In terms of power, that older system probably uses more. The core class CPUs are used in ultrabooks for a reason. They are power efficient compared to the older models. The i5 is considered a mixture of power saving and performance. The i3 is powersaving, the i7 performance.

But from a Linux perspective, both systems will probably run nicely. More ram is always wanted, graphics cards are always upgraded. This is completely up to you.
OK, I see the point that an i5 would be worth spending more for longevity. I'm probably leaning that way, though I wonder if a Xeon setup like this one, with a less ancient Xeon chip, and beefier RAM and GPU would be a reasonable deal:

Ideally, I'd like to put together this setup myself, but that angle isn't getting much wife acceptance at the moment (understandably, since it would be a new experiment and I tend to research stuff at length).

Thanks for helping me narrow the field.
Hey, a barebones kit looks like an excellent compromise! Now, if I could just find a good UK equivalent of Tiger Direct. The closest match I've found is, and it's much less comprehensive...

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