ATI Radeon or ATI Firepro for Student CAD PC

Hi, I am about to begin my final year of study in Industrial Design in September. On our course we use PTC Creo CAD software and Keyshot rendering. While the department has two computer suites, the volume of students means that CAD PCs are at a premium, and therefore for my final year I have decided that I require a machine of my own. Being a student, I am on a limited budget, and so I have decided to build a computer with the help of a friend to get the best components I can for my money. I have never done this before, so sorry if I have made any errors in my selections! I am going the AMD route on cost grounds. The components I was thinking about are as follows:

- AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition 3.4GHz Socket AM3 6MB L3 Cache Cache 125W
- Asus M5A78L-M LX3 AM3+ AMD 760G DDR3 uATX
- G.Skill 8GB (2 x 4GB) Ripjaws-X DDR3 PC3-12800 1600MHz CL9
- Seagate 500GB Barracuda SATA-600 7200RPM 16MB 3.5" Hard Drive
- (I have a case and power supply already)

My question is about graphics cards. I can either get an ATI Radeon card, possibly the Asus ATI Radeon HD 6670 2GB PCI-Express HDMI, or spend £40 extra and get
an AMD FirePro V3900 Graphics Card - 1GB. from what I have read, the Firepro series is designed for CAD software and this card is approved by PTC. However, will I notice the extra performance for my £40, or am I better to wait and upgrade in the future if my CAD activities become more intensive? Any advice/experience would be greatly appreciated.
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  1. AMD and Nvidia really want you to buy their professional grade cards because the profit margin on them is huge. They make a significant part of their profit from them. But you can get better performance using gaming graphics cards and pay a small fraction of the cost of professional grade cards. Now if you choose to go this route there is no guarantee you won't have little issues with your software, but most of the time the issues, if they exist, are small. I've been using gaming graphics cards for years with 3DS Max and Photoshop. I have had some issues, but I've been able to either work despite the issues or find solutions.

    With this in mind, it should be a simple thing to choose a graphics card that fits your budget. Just go to and plug in whether you want AMD or Nvidia and your price range and see what pops up :-)
  2. If you are tinkering with rendering and mostly gaming, get a consumer card .... if ya spending cupla hours a day of rendering, Id say get a Pro card. In any case, given the small budget, I don't think it will matter much
  3. Thanks for the input. Based on your feedback, and thinking some more about my budget limitations, I think I may just get a consumer card for now, and upgrade in the future if I require. The card I have been looking at is the Radeon HD 6670 2GB:
    It is around £60 ($95). At this price point, or there abouts, is this the best card or are there other options I could/should be considering? As I say never having done this before I'm not sure what to look for in a graphics card and most reviews for these types of cards seem to focus on gaming performance. Thanks.
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