Last Updated on September 14, 2020 by Scott Krager
For those who are following the PC gaming scenario, there is a rising trend in gamers going for server CPUs like Intel Xeon and playing games on those CPUs rather than spending money on a mainstream desktop CPU.
The reason behind that is that if you look at the older Xeon CPUs, you find some options that are available in the market for cheap, hence, people are actually more inclined towards those processors than they are towards others.
In order to understand what we are talking about, it is important that we first look at what Xeon CPUs actually are. This is important because if we do not pay attention to what we are dealing with, we may not be able to reach a proper conclusion.
So, What is a Xeon CPU?
For those who do not know, Intel came with the first Xeon CPU back in 1998. The purpose of these chips was never to go mainstream as they were targeted towards servers.
Till this day, the Xeon lineup is strictly for servers and computers that require high computational power.
As suspected, these processers are way too expensive when you compare to the more mainstream options, with prices reaching as high as $1,500 or even higher than that.
Additionally, most of the Xeons are equipped with high core count, reaching all the way up to 28 cores per CPU. So, is it beneficial at all?
Well, not actually.
You see, Xeon processors are meant for tasks that require high cores and threads.
Games, on the other hand, benefit more from single threaded performance rather than multi-threaded performance.
This is probably the reason why Core series processors are more than enough when it comes to gaming.
Can We Get Rid of Bottleneck Using Xeon?
For any PC gamer, the term bottlenecking is something that happens to be extremely common. The term basically means a situation in which the CPU cannot keep up with the speed at which the GPU is outputting frames in the game.
This results in the GPU falling behind as well because it has to match the speed at which the CPU is working. This does result in obvious performance issues.
Some gamers believe that if we use a CPU powerful enough like a Xeon, it will not be an issue.
However, it does not work. Sure, you might notice some difference, but it will be so minor that you will not be able to justify the insanely high price that you have paid for the Xeon.
In a situation like that, if you really want to remove the bottleneck, you can just invest in a good Core processor like a Core i5, and it will be more than enough for gaming without any bottlenecks that can ruin the experience.
If you want to make sure that there is no bottleneck whatsoever, then going for a Core i7 is also an option which will cost you a slightly higher price tag, but at least you will know that you can use it for productivity tasks as well.
As far as the need for a Xeon just to remove the bottleneck is concerned, it simply is not there.
Why Game on a Server CPU Then?
Well, no one in their right mind would go out in the market and spend upwards of $1,500 on a server CPU to play games on it. However, since Xeon CPUs are available as used in abundance, and they are available for a lot cheaper, people actually tend to go that route in order to play the games.
That is why you will notice that most of the people who are running Xeon based gaming PCs that are strictly for gaming have really old variants of Intel Xeon processors. Mainly because they happen to be so cheap.
Should You Game on a Server CPU?
The industry experts suggest that the gaming on Xeon processors is entirely possible but the returns that you are going to get are diminishing at best.
For instance, let’s assume that you are getting a $200 Xeon CPU and pairing it with a GTX 1070. On the other hand, you are spending $200 on Core i5, and pairing it with the same GPU, the performance difference that you are going to notice is something that will be so minimal, that you will not even feel like it.
If you are wondering if there is a scenario in which we could recommend gaming on a Xeon PC, then yes, there are two scenarios.
The first scenario is that you are building a low budget gaming PC, and mostly from used parts, and you have found a great deal on an older Xeon processor. A deal that is hard to beat in terms of the price to performance ratio. In a situation like that, going with a Xeon processor would make much more sense.
The second scenario is that if you are building a server computer because your work demands it, but at the same time, you are a PC gamer as well. Rather than building two different computers, you can use just one to play games and do the server related work with ease as well.
In conclusion, the one thing that we can say with complete conviction is that buying a new Xeon CPU makes absolutely no sense if you are only looking forward to playing games on it.
Buying a used one, especially when you cannot find a better deal and you are low on a budget does make sense, but only in rare scenarios.
If the conditions in either of the scenarios discussed above are not being satisfied at all, then there is no point in getting a Xeon processor just for the sake of gaming.
Because in that case, you are basically burning through a lot of money for no apparent and beneficial reason.