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Sapphire 100225L Radeon HD 3870 and 3ds max 9.

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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March 5, 2008 3:45:01 PM

I believe that I can have my cake first then my green beans.

I am putting together a system and know I will be able to run 3ds on the system.

(Intel X38, Intel E8400, 2 Corsair 2GB DDR3 – PC3 10600, 2 WD Raptor 150, Thermaltake 750W PS and a VA8003BWS case, Thermalright IFX-14 w/1 Scythe 120mm and 1 92mm fans controlled by a Zalman MFC2 and 2 Dell UltraSharp 20’s).

Since a workstations cards drivers are geared to better and more exact color representation that is given a monitor’s ability to reproduce color based on color depth and ICC profiles – how close will the image I see be to the file I save from the rendering?

I am trying to justify using a $250.00 card verses a $$$$$ workstation card. Who doesn’t want to be able to work then relax while using the same system. My goal is a printed image using an Epson 4800 colorburst printer filtered thru Corel Painter and Adobe Photoshop.

I know that we/they have not genetically created an apple-orange video card yet, but from an electrical specifications point of view these high end video cards are different but seem to be close to the workstation cards. Workstation cards exist to create and then there are the video cards we use to experience the creations.

Can I have my cake first then my green beans?
a b U Graphics card
March 5, 2008 6:16:11 PM

Workstation cards and their destop counterparts are the same except for minor tweaks like shutter glasses support, everything else is in the drivers.

Your colour paletter will be the same limited to the true 10bit per channel (despite support for 16 bit in the render for both the output is 10bit).

As long as you calibrate the monitor/system then you should see similar images on similar systems. If course if you look at work on a CRT or HDR LCD then you'll not see the same on a cheaper LCD at home.

Most LED lit LCDs will get you over 100% Adobe RGB colour space, and both sets of deasktop/gaming cards will support the full colour gamut for those monitors. With HDR monitors you need the specialized drivers simply to give you the access to the 48bit (12 per channel), which is really the interface maximum (I think you even need it you may be interface limited). The full 64bit internal support will be available based on the app.

Internally the HD3870 supports full colour with 16bits per component, but you'r still restricted to the interface support which I believe is 8&10bit in DVI, and potential for 12 bit (but currently only 8&10) in HDMi and up to 12 bit in DisplayPort.

My laptop with the HD2600 does fine, and once everything is calibrate with a colorimeter I would be surprised if it's any different from the Matroxs and Quadros (newer ones) at work or the FireGLs at the Uni.

What are the types of applications (ie useage) for the work you'll be doing with these cards and PS&Painter; are you looking more for colour accuracy or support for extreme HDRs?
March 5, 2008 7:04:52 PM

Thanks for the reply.

I still use paint and brush and since the early 80's have been upgrading various painting programs. I support my habit as a graphic designer and have a gallery for the fine art. I recently created a few pieces at the office using that high end stuff and tried it at home on my well let's say new high end computer I bought when I was very young (Circa 1995). I drink alot of wine waiting for the images to render and the painter brushes take forever to respond.

The system I have researched seems to be an OK platform to relax with in the gaming environment (got some young ones at home) and should give me the needed power to flex the painter/photoshop and 3ds program.

I look at it this way - Yes color accuracy is important but my take is I see the color RED differently than you do. So even with a zillion dollar monitor calibrated to the max it is still digital and coming from canvas it has it's own characteristics. The Lacie monitors at the office still leave alot to be desired.

Will the HD3870 give me better than average color representation on the Dell UltraSharp something I can live with or get used to - or - Will I be blown away by a super dupper 1GB workstation card on a Lacie?

When we photograph existing images (example a magazine cover) and download them into the system, manipulate them, print them and hold them up to the originals there is a difference. They are very close even using the same printing medium - that is every generation changes.
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a b U Graphics card
March 5, 2008 8:02:43 PM

Well I understand the idea of you perceiving red differently, but as long as both monitors are calibrated to someone else's standard equally then they should be equally 'off' to you, and as such allow you to chose your pallette as you see it. As long as the printer is is synched up throught the colour table and outputs as expected, then they should reproduce what you expect. The problem of course is others will see whatever they experience as Red, so it unfortunately doesn't help you there. And if you're working with values like 72/249/12 you still see it differently, and it doesn't matter how the card/monitor display it, in that case you'd want to ensure that the gradient and transitions are accurate which both the interal and display support levels will help.

For reproduction work like you mention then you'd be sticking with more of the former type of requirements where even if you were perceiving colours differently that difference should remain consistent when you tweak pc/monitor/printer for yourself.

The Dell UltraSharp is good, the newest 30" having the nice benefit of Displayport connectivity for future cards.

I think you'd be fine with an HD3870 or even a passive HD3850 or HD3650 for that matter. I think you're still going to focus on CPU and memory power/restrictions, but the memory size of the card and the general simple 'pipeline' strength should be fine even with a lower end card, but one of the benefits to consider will be for both effect processing as well as the potential of future GPGPU assistance in processing, that to me would recommend you stay in that range and not go to the HD3400 series, which would likely suit your need now, but offers no additional potential.
March 6, 2008 12:45:57 PM

Right on...With all things equal - I think this may be a good alternative choice to a workstation card.

I like what I have been able to create so far using the digital medium from a fine art perspective. Naturally 99% of the graphic design work is digital.

I have a few additional questions as to my choice of the hardware platform the video card wiill interface with - if you have the time...

Moving to an intel X38 platform I feel positions me to upgrade to a better processor, that is an extreme, as the prices adjust. Is the E8400 a good match for the HD 3870?

Going to 4G of DDR3 at 1333 should give me a little more than 2GB after the system requirements are satisfied. Is this also a good match for the health of the system?

I do not feel that overclocking will be an issue yet I feel that the Thermalright solution should keep the processor and video cool. Is this resonable?

The need for 2 WD HD's are because photoshop and painter swap to the hard drive often and I don't feel spliting one drive into multiple partitions is the right way to go.

Last thought 750W should cover the power requirements for now providing I do not get several more drives or purchase a higher end video card. If you think going with a larger wattage is a good move I think I can fit it into the budget?
March 6, 2008 1:38:13 PM

You should google 2600xt (2900) softmod to firegl. Those are the last ATI cards that could be softmodded to workstation cards.

I dont know how good hd3870 is with 3ds max and I didn't try the 2600xt.

I have an nvidia 6800GT softmodded to quadro fx3400 and I think it will be faster than your system in 3ds max.

In 3ds max you wont notice the difference between ddr2 and dd3 so save your money. For rendering time you better try the q6600.
March 6, 2008 2:20:14 PM

NaDa - Thanks...

After the softmod is it possible to still get a game to run. That is I understand that most workstation cards do not like games....or will I have to load and then reload drivers to taste the cake before the beans....

Just another thought...

Is it possible to put a workstation card AND a gamming card in the same system and to diable one or the other say by let's say loading two versions of the operating system and booting to one or the other with the required hardware configuration. Or can you go to the device manager and disable one enable the other and then reboot?

I know the DDR3 is overkill...I wil take a look at the q6600...thanks again.
March 6, 2008 2:36:21 PM

Workstation cards can run games just fine. You need to understand it's just the difference in the drivers not the hardware. There is usualty a small decrease in performance when using a workstation card with games.

The 2600xt isn't a good card for gameing, the 3870 is far supperior but for 3ds I think the softmodded 2600xt would be better.

You could put two cards. I was also thinking about this, cos I use the 6800GT and it's getting old for games. With two graphic cards you would just have two adapters and you could switch between the two.
There is a problem if some application would work with a secondary adapter or if you could switch to it at all.

Get the hd3870 and if you aren't satisfied then get a cheap (used) 2600xt with 256ddr3 and softmod it. I dont know how complex your models are in max and the adaptive degradation is getting better in max these days.

Are you using 3ds max or you are referring to 3d apps in general?

For rendering the q6600 would be almost twice as fast as the e8400 if you were using mental ray or vray.
March 6, 2008 2:36:50 PM

Do not get a Sapphire. They have the worst customer service in the video card market. They will NOT respond to RMAs or Tech emails.

I would suggest getting another manufacturer; HIS, Diamond, etc. Anyone but Sapphire.

I like the 3870, i just don't like Sapphire. they ignored my RMA request for 6 weeks. thank god, Newegg.com manned up and RMA'd my card, even after the 30 return policy.
March 6, 2008 3:38:32 PM

NaDa - I am going to do a little more research on the workstation card vs gaming. I am a flight sim junkie - and like civ...so my requirements on one side are frame rate driven and not so high in the world domination in civ...Also the two card idea may be worth some more investigation.

From years gone by I was told that processor speed was the cornerstone to rendering and why I picked the 3Ghz chip. Now, I do not render amimations so all of my work is single frame and not very complex. But I do like to crank it up as far as mental ray is concerned. I will try the CPU charts on Tom's and cruise the forums for more insight. Does mental ray utilize multiple processors in the rendering process when it is only one frame? This would explain why my single slow processor takes so long. I have done extensive technical illustration in wire frame and some 3D mod in AutoCAD and I have had limited exposure to 3ds - but I like it. I looked at Strata, Caligari, and Maya also.

50bmg...I will look into the support issue as in todays world it is very nice to have at least some outstanding support after the sale. Newegg rep seems to be the way to go. I do like the HD 3870 specs...thanks for the heads up....
a b U Graphics card
March 6, 2008 8:03:08 PM

First to NADa's comments, I agre softmod i a nice combination of both worlds, but I've had limited positive feedback of the HD2K softmod. I haven't used it yet myself though as I haven't even had time to make re-installing Maya and 3DSmax worth it for me (currently just sticking to CS3 until I full roll back to XP) let alone try to make these work mobile.
Here's where I got my copy of the moded drivers;
http://www.techenclave.com/graphic-cards/hd-2600xt-mod-...

3DSMax performance depends alot on the render mode, OGL shows a noticeable difference between Workstation and Gaming card, so for low complexity 3D models should be fine, for DX mode they are much closer to almost draw even with good gaming cards (IMO the HD3870 would beat a moded GL in DX but be slower in OGL, however they handle the vector nature better out of the box IMO than their counterparts, which was the case before too where nVidia got huge boosts from their drivers, and ATi only mild ones where the ATi's would start off stronger and then get destroyed by mediocre driver boosts. Of course this is all viewport acceleration, and the output files take about the same time.
This review will give you some insight into the differences;
http://www.hothardware.com/articles/ATI_FireGL_V7600_51...

In OGL 3DSMax the drivers are everything, and as you can see in gaming the Quadro just nose dives (although the FireGL does fairly well playing like it's HD2900Pro counterpart). However it really does depend alot on the app as to the effectiveness of the card.

Softmoding is nice because you can flip back and forth between gaming and workstation profiles. There is a huge difference though in performance between the HD2600 and HD3870, in games though, so if you're looking for good game performance you may want at least an HD2900Pro, but that does increase the power and heat issue a bit and still gives you about only 80% of the performance of the HD3870.

So the major queston becomes how important is your viewport acceleration?
If they update the SoftGL mod to include the HD3850&3870 that would be the clear winnner with the best of both worlds. So you could game on that too, I haven't actually checked if people were succesful with an updated mod.

HPINitro said:

Moving to an intel X38 platform I feel positions me to upgrade to a better processor, that is an extreme, as the prices adjust. Is the E8400 a good match for the HD 3870?


Cetainly, I think that would be the best match-up, of course aSkulltrail would be nice, but likely a bit of overkill for a home system. I agree with NADA though a Quad over dual core, the Q6600 is a great value with lotsa potential.

Quote:
Going to 4G of DDR3 at 1333 should give me a little more than 2GB after the system requirements are satisfied. Is this also a good match for the health of the system?


Yeah I think 4GB is a good current position, and if you have free slots for more later that would be good to, although more for the 3DsMax side of things than the photoshop. Of course if you support higher resolution captures and higher bit depth either captures or process files you'll find no amount of memory is too much. The speed of the memory depends, I would be surprised if faster memory didn't help with some 3DSmax titles, but it always depends on where the bottleneck is.

Quote:
I do not feel that overclocking will be an issue yet I feel that the Thermalright solution should keep the processor and video cool. Is this resonable?


Quote:
The need for 2 WD HD's are because photoshop and painter swap to the hard drive often and I don't feel spliting one drive into multiple partitions is the right way to go.


Oh definitely, RAID makes alot of sense, you choice of method depends on your weight on speed or speed and redundancy. If you're going with those Drives, I'd recommend a very large external storage unit though as well, heck even ploping a large 'internal' HDD outisde the rig would be a cheap solution that gives you the benefit of more archice space and not affecting your heat profile.

Quote:
Last thought 750W should cover the power requirements for now providing I do not get several more drives or purchase a higher end video card. If you think going with a larger wattage is a good move I think I can fit it into the budget?


Yeah I'm a fan of PC Power&Cooling's PSUs for serious work. You can find alot of other models out there, the Thermaltake looks ok.

EDIT to add other reply;
Quote:
I am a flight sim junkie - and like civ...so my requirements on one side are frame rate driven and not so high in the world domination in civ...Also the two card idea may be worth some more investigation.


If those are the games you'll be playing then the focus on them is the CPU too, go with a moded HD2600XT and spend more on your CPU then. The HD3K series would be better for FPS games like Crysis and such but for flight sims and games like Civ, really the benefits of more powerful cards is really for things like increasing AA levels etc.

Quote:
From years gone by I was told that processor speed was the cornerstone to rendering and why I picked the 3Ghz chip.


Yeah but workstation apps have always been very multi-thread aware, and they are the few apps that truly shine going from dual core to quad core. Sure an Extreme QX6850 would still outperform a Q6600 due to the speed boost but a Q6600 should outperform the faster but dual core E8400. Of course the EQX9650 with the same speed as the QX6850 would likely still outperform thanks to the increased Cache size, but the most important benefit will remain the number of cores to share the workload.

3Dproffesor is a good sight for additional information about the workstation cards and apps.

Also I believe the last THG review included both OGL and DX performance number for 3DSmax.

Yep, here it is;
http://www.tomshardware.com/2007/11/09/workstation_shoo...

First two tests are DX mode, second test is the standard OGL mode in SPECViewPerf's tests IIRC.
March 7, 2008 2:59:20 AM

I think ya'll can spend my $moola$ faster than I can....

For a few dollars more (as mr. eastwood would say)...I think I can justify the QX9650. This should satisfy the apps that will take advantage of the multi cores. It is a shame notepad won't -HA HA.

Is 750W going to be enough? If not, then aside from the mfg what wattage should I shoot for?

I am going to stay at 4GB of RAM and fill all of the slots, 1GB each, since I am running XP PRO at 32 bit. I believe it will not see the additional RAM over 4GB.

With a 1333 Processor and DDR3 1333 RAM this should get me close to a 1:1 read across the FSB. Stock timmings being what they are.

I think that the HD 3870 is going to be a nice middle of the road card. I am going to look at the ability to softmod it - if it is possible for the 3870. Since this is the first I have heard of softmoding, I've got alot of homework to do. Maybe even add another one later, since the board supports crossfire - you know setting on high. I use a toshiba tecra tablet to sketch with in painter. It has an intel M 2.13 and a nVidia GeForce GO 6600 with 128MB. I ran 3ds on it (well it loaded and ran) and it handled the modeling just fine. The rendering was not fast in mental ray but ok otherwise. This gives me an indication that I will not have a true workstation (Dual xeon's with 16GB or more of RAM) with my present configuration but a very nice gaming platform that can do a little 3D stuff now and then. Yummy cake.....just can't leave the table until I eat my beans - the slow part.

The HD's are going to be set up for speed as I hover over the ctrl+s keys and save all of the time -habit. An external 500GB drive is already available, coupled with a double layer DVD drive.

Since there was no response to the thermalright addition and case I assume that everything should stay way kool....

I have looked at the new dell 30's but at the $2000.00 level and the processor upgrade I have to have a little left to buy the misses something or else....so I am looking at the samsung 204B-BK as a stepping stone to the 30 and will pass it along to one of the children.

I'll be back - by the way thanks....!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
a b U Graphics card
March 7, 2008 4:55:35 PM

Don't go with the QX9650 unless you truly feel you HAVE to, like most higher end products, it's a really high premium (you could almost buy 4 Q6600s for the price of 1 QX9650). Of course the jump from QX6850 to QX9650 is nothing and likely worth it IMO, but be sure you really feel the money is better spent there and not elsewhere. Remember it's like $250 vs $1,000+.

750W should be enough Thermaltake is good quality power so it's fine, and you're not running multiple graphics cards which would really chew more energy than even 2 or 3 of thsoe QX CPUs. You should be fine.

Yeah if you're staying with 32bit then anything above 4GB is waste (you'll only see 3.5).

For the softmod go to the Guru3D or 3Dprofessor forums, there's people there that do it all the time. It's essentially some modifications of the driver device ID files, pretty easy once you have the driver. Since there currently isn't a FireGL card that matches the HD3850/70 you may need to wait until that happens. But you never know.

If you're certain of the desire to softmod, then the HD2900XT would be a better choice, but of course it's a little hotter and more power hungry and a little slower in games, but it is the basis of the high end FireGL 8600 and it can be softmoded. Main issues I've heard have been with Maya (what I teneded to use more) but seems ok with 3DSmax.

Cooling should be fine, even something like the HD2900XT ejects the heat out of the case, so the main thing will be keeping the CPU well fed with fresh air as well as the pretty warm HDDs.

Anywhoo, looks like the additional reading is what will help you decide on the GPU, and like I said for the CPU you really need to think about it, in a few months you could probably replace the mobo with a Skulltrail X48 model and add a second Q6600 all for less than just the price of the QX9650, and that will give you 8 core instead of the 4.

Anywhoo, it's a great processor, but I just want you to stop and think about it just to be sure.
March 8, 2008 8:38:28 PM

The QX6850 was not in the initial budget but I wanted a platform that would perform well and with the ability to upgrade to it later - if I do not miss the chance because there are none left after the price drops a buck or two.

I have run all of Tomshardware CPU chart tests again for the QX6850, Q6600, E8400 and E8500:

QX6850 - 22 1st, 9 2nd, 1 3rd and no 4th.
Q6600 - no 1st, 13 2nd, 2 3rd and 17 4th.
E8400 - no 1st, 1 2nd, 17 3rd and 14 4th.
E8500 - 10 1st, 9 2nd, 12 3rd and 1 4th.

For the Q6600 4th place 9 were significantly lower than the E8400 and for the E8400 4th place 4 were significantly lower than the Q6600.

So I think the E8500 will be the CPU choice (for now) - if I can find one. They seem really hard to get - any ideas?

I am going to just wait and see about the availability of the softmod for the 3800 series. Stay in touch with the Guru's and Professor's. The HD 2900XT is right behind the HD 3870 in all of the VGA chart tests but I get a little more icing on the game side of the cake for now. With crossfire on the Mobo I can just get another one.

If 3ds eventually become the program of choice - that is I find myself using it more than photoshop and painter then I can always get a nice workstation card as this platform should suit it well. It will run now on this platform - with it's short falls. I have created some nice very simple pieces with a system that is no where near the quality of the one to be and since I save them into a tiff format from 3ds and manipulate them I should be ok for now.

I have been waiting and during my built process I looked back and forward a few years and decided that this is an great time to step up and in. They never stop getting better and if we all waited - WELL... I want to build on now and not again in a few months. (I forsee only a processor upgrade to complete this platform)

Not sure if it will be from Sapphire - more homework...

....HD 3870 and 3ds max 9...I think so...

Get my cake first and then my green beans....cold beans for sure....
July 18, 2008 5:23:50 AM

which latest ati cards can be softmodded is there a list

if ATI softmod working and Nvidia Softmod do not

I might try to RMA

PALIT 8600GT Sonic+ nVidia GeForce 8600GT; PCI-E16X; 256MB/128bit DDR3; HDTV-out, 2xDVI 86 dollars

with

POWERCOLOR HD4870 ATI Radeon HD4870; PCI-E16X 2.0; 512MB/256bit DDR5; HDTV-out, 2xDVI 320 dollars

SAPPHIRE HD3650 ATI Radeon HD3650; PCI-E16X 2.0; 512MB/128bit DDR2; HDTV-out, 2xDVI 68 dollars

SAPPHIRE HD4850 ATI Radeon HD4850; PCI-E16X 2.0; 512MB/256bit DDR3; HDTV-out, 2xDVI 215 dollars

any suggestions welcome
!