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3D CAD Card vs Gaming Card

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March 14, 2006 9:30:04 PM

I'm a Mechanical Designer using Autodesk Inventor 10 and I play some games (Diablo2 & Doom 3, not a huge gamer). I'm going to be building a new PC and I want to know whether I should get a strong CAD card to handle both or should I get a strong gaming card to do both I'm looking to spend between $300-$600 in a card. NVidia Quadro FX1400 or a NVidia 7900GTX, or does someone have a better suggestion?

More about : cad card gaming card

March 14, 2006 11:31:57 PM

Get the 7900GTX.
March 14, 2006 11:55:52 PM

I third that. The quadro's are only "better" if you need strict opengl compliance, the drivers are optimized for that, where-as the consumer cards are optimized for performance over stability, they still work great though.
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March 15, 2006 11:21:10 AM

I'm not an expert on the subject and therefore forget the nitty gritty details off the top of my head. However, having seen this debate on other forums and from reading different information about it [I'm a network engineer for an engineering firm], the experts tend to think that if you are going to be doing intensive 3D rendering then you need a card designed for it.

I will try to find some information on it, but from what I gather, if extremely precise rendering is your bread and butter, and you need precision, then you need a professional card.
March 15, 2006 11:34:56 AM

Thank you to all! I'm in no rush to buy, although I am chomping at the bit to build a new PC! I'm currently running a Intel P3 1GHz, 512MB of RAM (PC133) and a cheap 128MB AGP video card with a 17" CRT!!!!

Problem is that this has to pass the "Budgetary Committee" at home - my wife! It's between a new PC and a new big screen Plasma or LCD TV! How does a guy pick between those!!

Any way, thanks again!
March 15, 2006 11:44:11 AM

Traditionally one of the big differences between CAD cards and games cards has been fast antialiased lines: CAD cards support them, game cards don't and have to use FSAA instead. I'm not sure whether that's still the case.
March 15, 2006 11:48:40 AM

I hate to say it, but what does that mean? Pardon my ignorance!
March 15, 2006 11:50:46 AM

I just did a quick search, and you could probably find the same information I will by googling up stuff like "graphics cards for CAD", etc.

From what I have seen, and from what you just posted as your current specs, then you would probably be better served by getting a decent CPU with a lot of memory, and then getting a decent consumer level video card.
March 15, 2006 12:00:36 PM

This is what I was planning on getting when building my PC;
-2GB DDR400 (PC3200) - Crucial
-(2) 250GB Western Digital 7200 rpm SATA (raid 0)
-AMD 64 3700+ (2.2GHz) San Diego
-Promise Fast Track Raid Card
-Abit AMD MoBo (VIA K8T890 chip set)
-19" HP LCD monitor
-LightScribe DualLayer DVD Burner
-DVD ROM
-550W ANTEC Power Supply
-ANTEC Performance Case

All I need is a video card selection!
March 15, 2006 12:05:18 PM

If it were me, based on working as a network enginner, supporting engineering and also married to an architect, this is what I would change:

Stay away from via chipset, they have come a long way, but if you stick with an nvidia chipset you might save yourself a lot of hassles.

Spring for a 20 inch monitor with a 1600x1200 native resulution. You can get a Samsung 20.1 LCD for around $450. Larger LCD monitors however have a slower response time, so keep that in mind. A good quality, large LCD monitor should be fine. For design work the quality of these monitors is worth every penny, but if you do not plan to run it at the native resolution then don't bother.

You don't need a seperate raid card. You can buy boards with decent raid controllers built in. I have used raid in workstations before, and I'm not sure it is worth it. It isn't difficult and you shouldn't have issues, but the speed increase is barely noticable in most cases.
March 15, 2006 12:22:37 PM

Let me tell you a story about a man named Jed.
Poor engineer trying to keep his family fed.
Then one day he was trying to wire-frame,
but his graphics card, it could only game.

ATI.....nVIDIA.

Then one day he was posting on a forum
the good gaming boys said buy a gaming card.
He was smarter and chose the correct path.
He gobbled up the Quadro...and never looked back

All goofing aside, I suspect that the people that are telling you that the "consumer/gaming" video card is "just fine" or "will be ok" are off their rockers.....and are not engineers, or have not supported engineers in their career.

If you spend 30-100% of your time doing CAD on that machine, you need to get the Quadro. It has a very very different set of drivers and the hardware is tuned toward design/engineering aps.

The consumer cards by ATI and nVIDIA are tuned towards gaming and that is ALL.

I know from first hand experience on this one. Consumer cards SUCK at things like architecture software packages, wire framing - basically all of the aps out there are are design aps (catia, pro-E, etc...). It was a very painful lesson for me when I realized this. I even contacted ATI 3 years ago when my RAdeon 9700 PRO was new. It was caughing and sputtering on a simple home-design wire frame. It doesn't get much more basic in design/engineering than that. I was told by ATI that their consumer cards (and nVIDIA's for that matter) can't handle it cause they are tuned almost soley for games and simple 2d environments. Fire and Quadro are what is recommended hands down. Very pricey, but definately worth the money.

The bottom line here is that you'd probably be better off with 2 graphics cards and flip them depending on what you are doing. Otherwise you must make a sacrifice on either gaming by going Quadro or on your ME stuff by going consumer grade-gaming card.

Good luck.
March 15, 2006 12:39:48 PM

Antialiasing smooths the jagged edges of objects: when displaying wireframe CAD models that's a very good idea so the lines look smooth.

If the hardware supports antialiased lines then it will perform the appropriate calculations and render just the lines to the framebuffer, if it doesn't then it has to render the entire frame antialiased, which can be much slower.
March 15, 2006 12:45:17 PM

Personally I think if you're not a big gamer then work is more important and you should get the professional level card. It'll still do fine in games but will do better in your work environment. Might not be quite as fast in the games but at 1280x1024 (the highest a 19" LCD will go) you'll be fine. Might wait till a Quadro card comes out based on the 7900 series chip though since it'll have higher clocks due to the 90nm.
March 15, 2006 1:32:29 PM

Quote:
Thank you to all! I'm in no rush to buy, although I am chomping at the bit to build a new PC! I'm currently running a Intel P3 1GHz, 512MB of RAM (PC133) and a cheap 128MB AGP video card with a 17" CRT!!!!

Problem is that this has to pass the "Budgetary Committee" at home - my wife! It's between a new PC and a new big screen Plasma or LCD TV! How does a guy pick between those!!

Any way, thanks again!


I had the same choice, but when I considered how much they would whine about the grey/black bars on the side of the screen when watching standard tv, (or worse, they might stretch it so everyone is short and fat), I chose to build a new pc.
March 15, 2006 2:18:31 PM

http://features.cgsociety.org/story_custom.php?story_id...

They test the Quadro FX4500 against the 7800GTX (single and SLI) and the best Ati FireGL card. No game benches but none the less some clips include...

SPECapc for Maya
Quote:
The FireGL V7100 lagged behind the Quadro FXs for this particular test. The GeForce 7800GTX in single and SLI configuration performed about as well as the Quadro FXs


SPECapc for 3ds Max
Quote:
Both GeForce 7800GTX running alone or in SLI mode were seriously disadvanced for this 3ds Max test.


CineBench 2003
Quote:
Surprisingly the GeForce 7800GTX performed as well as the Quadro FX 4500, this probably shows that CineBench results is not affected by the GeForce 7800GTX's lack of workstation-specific features of the Quadro and FireGL boards. Running the GeForce 7800GTX in SLI made little difference to the final result.
But read the whole article, its a mixed bag.
March 15, 2006 2:19:18 PM

Quote:
I'm a Mechanical Designer using Autodesk Inventor 10 and I play some games (Diablo2 & Doom 3, not a huge gamer). I'm going to be building a new PC and I want to know whether I should get a strong CAD card to handle both or should I get a strong gaming card to do both I'm looking to spend between $300-$600 in a card. NVidia Quadro FX1400 or a NVidia 7900GTX, or does someone have a better suggestion?




It's a tough trade off. The Quadro is optimized to be more "precise" in placement whereas the 7900GTX is optimized for general frame rate. The Quadro driver is what the difference is but from what I've seen it will be so-so in gaming. I would guess that the Design stuff is the most important so I'd go for the Quadro.
March 17, 2006 11:25:02 AM

If U spend lot of time redering Cad or Catia models , stick with Quadro solution. I use on my Opteron 240 workstation one Quadro FX500 AGP(based on FX5200 game gpu) and it is faster than my fellow with 6600 GT PCIexpress VGA card. One alternative is to get 6800 Ultra or 7800 GT or GTX VGA cards and activate Quadro functions with Rivaturner, them U will get top VGA Quadro cards paying only a fraction of real value of Quadro cards, as GPU is the same and Riva turner unlock the Quadro features (some VGA cards as MSI ones ) can be found by your system as real Quadro cards after using Rivaturner... Try this and get the best of 2 words ( By the way I unlock one 6800 ultra and it is really fast on Catia... and when I play doom 3 ...is is fantastic !)
March 17, 2006 11:31:27 AM

That's interesting. Do you then load the quantro drivers, or does it matter?
March 17, 2006 11:32:38 AM

Thank you for replying!

I have never heard of "Rivaturner". What is it? I tried looking online but everything I see is either in Spanish or French.
March 17, 2006 11:35:57 AM

http://www.guru3d.com/rivatuner/

It's a utility to get into the nuts and bolts of nvidia cards and mess around with the default settings, unlocking locked features, overclocking, etc.

http://www.guru3d.com/rivatuner/softquadro/

Sometimes the disabled features are disabled because they don't work, so they turn them off and sell them as lower models. Sometimes the features work perfectly and they might have needed a batch of lower models, so they just sell them as lower models. It's luck of the draw really. I do not know that much about quantro chips, but for consumer grade chips, as Forest Gump would say, you never know what you're gonna get.
March 17, 2006 11:48:48 AM

Sure some GPU for games are from rejects from Quadro VGA cards, but as most of GPU market is for gamers , U can be sure that for top VGA cards , GPU are exactly the same as for Quadro VGA cards. Rivaturner will unlock these features (somebrands U cannot see it unlock (as showing in Nvidia pannel , as quadro, but even those U will see the improve in performance when compared to pre rivaturner mode) .
Rivaturner is easy to set up and will not broke any warranty police as U are not oc the Vga card , but unlocking current features with a software.
As U noticed, quadro vga cards do not have an extensive product line, so stick to high end VGA game card to use rivaturner, some GPU will not be turned into quadro,as there are no equivalent quadro. Check the links mentioned by Pain for that.
March 17, 2006 11:58:53 AM

I get around on a PC very well, but I am not experienced when it comes to tweaking BIOS settings, hardware settings, etc. Would you recommend me not dealing with this at all? Or is it pretty straight forward? Also is this reversable if I have problems?

I trying new things out, but spending $500 on a video card and possibly wrecking it to tweak it scares me. My total cost for the PC will be around $2000-$2500. That's roughly 20%-25% of my total cost!
March 17, 2006 12:03:44 PM

It's a software tweak, so it is reversible. Read that site I gave you and also google up rivatuner and look for tutorials on using it, perhaps specifically for enabling quantro features. I'm sure you will find something about it.

Like I said though, sometimes it will work as you expect [hope] and somethings it will not. As chen said, if you buy a top end game card, chances are good that it's one of the better quality chips and therefore the extra features will work fine...but, it might not. I do not, as I said, know much (anything) about quantro chips so I don't know what features are available that aren't there on game cards. Perhaps those features are software only and require no hardware to function, and rivatuner will just enable that feature. If that is the case, you are safe. If it is not the case and it requires extra hardware that is disabled, then you aren't sure that hardware functions until you try it.

One older article I found:

http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/article/72
March 17, 2006 12:34:30 PM

Most of quadro features depends on softwares, as hardware features are present on both Gaming and Quadro cards (same PCB project), but Nvidia just lock the features as Professional VGA cards market are more profitable per unit . Nvidia used to use hardware lock in 5900 series VGA card , but with 6... family GPU the hardware lock were not instaled , using drivers to lock it up, rivaturner will skip the VGA id to unlock quadro features. So as I mentioned I use 6800 Ultra MSI vga as Quadro, as Pain mentioned, must test the VGA as some really may not be unlocked . Maybe the best way for U is get one from Ebay (and probably will be older batch , and more chance to respect Nvidia project layout). But I can tell U somenthing (I have 3 unlocked Quadro, 2 running Sli) it worths the try as U can check to FX3450 prices (at least in Brazil , quadro prices are at least 5 times over regular vga cards if product available) I bought 3 Vga and all are working as quadro, more, 2 6600 GT , 2 6800 from EVGA , were also turned into quadro for my fellows so chances are good , or get a smaller quadro model as fx 540 or fx 1100 (but it really depends on your needs, as in my office I have one engineer modeling on Catia , car parts for MB , volkswagen etc so in my case , better vga really makes diference ( our Quadro FX500 workstation is just for checking project... running models ...well we choose the 165 station...)
March 17, 2006 1:48:47 PM

Hey! I was reading this interesting post and got really curious: Are you saying that you can also unlock the 6600 GT to make it work like a Quadro?

I have a XFX 6600 GT (AGP) with me, is it possible to unlock it and make it work like a Quadro? If so, what software can I use to notice the difference? By using the method shown on hardwaresecrets.com I could do this and have the best of both worlds, right? Is there any side-effects?

Thank you so much for sharing this info. :wink:
March 17, 2006 4:49:58 PM

Yes , with after using Rivaturner U will have a game VGA turned into a Quadro Card. I have never seen any trouble and get all the benefits from this mod. I have never tried to turn 6600 GT into Quadro, but it worths the trial. Regarding benchmarks , there are some ways to benchmark the benefits, but for me the best way is to redenring one CAD file , them U will see the difference... if Ur GT accept the change (some 6600 have a diferent GPU NV series and newer model probably will not work) it will reduce the rendering time at least 30 to 50% ( using 6800 ultra, I got 90% time improvement in Catia 3d rendering ) . In 2d situation (as games) no diference will be noticed. So Quadro will be usefull for real users that require that , no for showing off ... really . Check web for NV series that can be turned into Quadro...
March 17, 2006 4:55:48 PM

Sorry... I forgot to print ... 6600GT AGP , I have only turned 6600GT PCIexpress into Quadro, but it should work well on AGP slot... .. nothing is harmed when using Rivaturner... the worst thing that would happen is nothing... them uninstall rivaturner and re-install VGA driver to prevent any bug from the uninstall ... but chances are good.... really good...
March 17, 2006 5:01:31 PM

Mmm... I think I'll try when I get home... it's worth it. Thanks, man...
March 17, 2006 6:02:01 PM

I will probably get a PCI-E 6800 GS in the future. Do you know if this one can be turned to Quadro too?
March 24, 2006 4:48:52 PM

Really did not tried any 6800 GS , but chances may be lower as with newer models with older GPU , some features are removed and sure they will lock fisically the quadro features as they did in 5xxx gpu series. Good news is that we turned a EVGA 7800 GTX into quadro... so at least 7xxx GPU can be converted into Quadro so upgrades can be done also ! Should always keep in mind that Quadro are top of chain in VGA cards line, so must use top gaming cards to get better chances to convert to quadro... if there are no economic quadro (that's why fx500 and fx550 are still in the market and they are not cheap when compared to fx5200) ... so get the best to receive the best...
March 27, 2006 5:10:11 PM

It would be interesting to find out if the new 7600GT can be unlocked too. Right now they are priced like the 6800 GS was. How about that? 8O
March 27, 2006 5:17:45 PM

never tried with 6800 gs and probably this gpu will not accept quadro change , only pure 6800 and 6800 gt/ultra will be turned as quadro (newer releases may be locked as due time, Nvidia could change the project or place phisical lock as they did with 5900 cards) . U may try to convert 7600 , but to my knowledge only 7800 gtx and 7900 gtx gpu have been used in quadro family (we converted a 7800 gtx this weekend and it is awsome in catia) ... so U may try with 7600 , but may not be sucessfull ...
March 27, 2006 5:33:04 PM

Ok, man. Thanks for your time!
March 27, 2006 7:11:48 PM

Quote:
Really did not tried any 6800 GS , but chances may be lower as with newer models with older GPU , some features are removed and sure they will lock fisically the quadro features as they did in 5xxx gpu series. Good news is that we turned a EVGA 7800 GTX into quadro... so at least 7xxx GPU can be converted into Quadro so upgrades can be done also ! Should always keep in mind that Quadro are top of chain in VGA cards line, so must use top gaming cards to get better chances to convert to quadro... if there are no economic quadro (that's why fx500 and fx550 are still in the market and they are not cheap when compared to fx5200) ... so get the best to receive the best...


Three questions for ya:

1) What series of the Quadro did you turn the 7800GTX into and was it the 512 version or the 256 version?

2)When you turn the 7800GTX into a Quadro card does it preform exactly like a brand new quadro out of the box?

3)Can it be done on any of the mobile 7XXX GPU's?
!