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Need Advice on a GPU for Autocad.

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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April 21, 2008 7:17:38 AM

My pop has a building planning business. Right now he runs with a HP laptop that has some low level nVidia card. A 6150 I think.

He may be ready to shell out for a desktop and I'm his go to guy for that.

We use Chief Architect X1. It's an Autocad program.

I need some advice on what workstation card would be good for us. I have been looking at the nVidia Quadro series but i am much more familiar with the gaming cards and whatnot. I don't really have any idea about AMD's offering. What is the big difference between a Workstation and Consumer card?


I would suppose the budget for the card is a few hundred. Should I just get a 8800 GT or GTS? He isn't gonna be impressed by tech talk.
I figure that after running his business for two years on a laptop he will be blown away but anything in the 8800 series.

Opinions please and thank you.

More about : advice gpu autocad

April 21, 2008 4:37:31 PM

Pretty Please
April 21, 2008 4:47:51 PM

One would be safe to assume that if your going to be doing alot of video editing and such, then a graphics card with more memory would suffice, as you dont need all the fancy stuff for games like stream processors n such. Quad cores also offer increased performance in video editing but show less performance in gaming and standard applications.
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a c 147 U Graphics card
April 21, 2008 5:04:08 PM

Nvidia has the Quadro series and ATI has the FireGL series for Workstation graphics. You are going to want to do your homework on these cards to get what you need. The workstation cards are physically 99% like their gaming/desktop counterparts however they are engineered, mostly by drivers, to be optimized for 2d/3d applications. Gaming cards are meant to give you fast action graphics, workstation cards are ment to give you accurate detail and spend more "time" creating such. Don't be supprised if the gaming card runs $200 and the workstation counterpart costs $1200. Here is a thread I started a while back asking about this because I was curious. Should be good reading for you:
http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/246658-33-gaming-prof...

Just don't get a gaming card to act as a workstation card, you won't be impressed. I bought 2 workstation cards for the CAD guys at my previous job and they specifically asked for a certain Quadrio series and they ran about $700 a card.

Depending on what you are doing you won't need a card that runs more than $500 or so. Just DO YOUR HOMEWORK! Some cards may be vastly better at doing one task than another.
April 21, 2008 5:23:01 PM

Thanks for that post jay2tall.
April 21, 2008 5:44:42 PM

Depends really... Are you going to be running 3D rendering with this program or are you doing line drawings and just making redline corrections?

I am using a Matrox Millennium P650 Low-profile PCI right now and its working fine. I do piping, electrical, and structural drawings for Duke Energy (uses Micrstation - but I have more exp on AutoCad) and its plenty enough for what I do. At Home I have an 8800gt and I can't tell a difference in performance.

Never understood the pro cards really...unless they are better at rendering lots of things like, landscapes/buildings/people/cities in one drawing and having to present it rendered in a meeting, I'd say they are a complete waste of money for what you are going to be doing.

I have also done, roadway, geotechnical, a little architectural, but never have done 3D stuff. None of the PC's I have worked with had any high dollar cards in them.
April 21, 2008 6:24:06 PM

Yeah. Right now the strongest card we have in the business is my Go 7600. We do rendering but never more that one or two full houses in a picture. The program we use is a bit of a median programm between Hardcore Engineering Autocad and a Design program. We can do some of both but our business is mostly just homes and remodels so we don't need much.

I am starting to think that a 8800GTS (G92) is gonna be more than enough.
April 21, 2008 6:42:34 PM

Also. I am looking at the 1GB 8800 GT cards. Are there AutoCad advantages to be gained from more memory like there are with games?
April 21, 2008 6:45:47 PM

Check on the graphics card manufacturers' web sites for certification. I know that the ATI/AMD cards are certified by AutoDesk for their various programs. Am pretty sure that the nVidia ones are too. You have to check to see which card is certified for which specific program, and be ready to read through long, l o n g lists of programs. These professional cards are taken very seriously by both their manufacturers and the software companies, so there is plenty of effort to certify them by industrial-strength software companies that you have probably never heard of.

BTW, I run an ATI FireGL V3300, a relatively low powered and "small" card, and it works very well with AutoCAD 2008, SketchUP, all Adobe CS2 and CS3 apps, and everything that I throw at it. Its big brother, the V3350 (twice the memory at 256 Mb) is certified by Adobe and I think Autodesk. Both are quite inexpensive for 2D and 3D applications. These are both 2006 models, I think the current equivalent to the 3350 is the V3600. The V3300/3350 is still available from places like Newegg, and all of these cards, including the V3600, should be in the $150 to $200 range, more or less.
April 21, 2008 7:00:52 PM

on this thread: http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/244909-31-autocad-autodesk-build-suggestions bga seems to have a pretty good handle on the hardware requirements and why multicore is a good idea even though the program itself itself doesn't fully support multiple cores.

The idea of using lesser cards with the Quatro drivers is interesting and worth checking out.

Yes - as others have said, check out the AutoDesk forums and sites for good ideas for hardware and especially monitors and recommended outputs.
April 21, 2008 7:48:13 PM

Thanks all. 8800 GT or GTS is gonna do it for us. Turns out we are buying today.
a b U Graphics card
April 22, 2008 3:24:20 PM

Engineering Workstation Cards are designed to do 256 Bits graphics resolution. It cost a lot of money. The quality of video details & the amount of information is on another level. Some video algo use fractal-math to process the image as you ZOOM in...


The common cards that we use even the high end 9800X2 are designed for 32 bit graphics.

You need to consider and have a better assessment of what you need.

Personally i think the 8800GT or better will work for you...

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