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DirectX 9 for CAD: which card?

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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September 25, 2008 2:47:40 PM

Hi all,

I'm new and trying to get informed. I am shopping for a video card to be used primarily in a CAD workstation. The target application is MicroStation (see specs http://selectservices.bentley.com/en-US/Support/Support+Tools/TechNotes+and+FAQs/MicroStation+V8+XM+Edition/9007+-+Requirements+for+MicroStation+XM.htm). It states it needs a card with DirectX 9c support. I prefer a card with optimum support for 2d antialiased graphics (most architectural design is done in wireframe view) than fast 3d visualization.

I took a look at the benchmarks for the same app here http://appsnet.bentley.com/mstnbenchmark/reports/VideoCardBrowser.aspx and the best card listed is the nvidia 9800gtx followed by the 8800gtx. I exclude quadro cards because of the steep price difference and because they are not explicitely supported.
Overall the whole 8800 family performs fine (pure geometry tests http://appsnet.bentley.com/mstnbenchmark/reports/Default.aspx put the 8800gt in front).

So the question is: which card is the best value for money? What if I try to stay in the 180$ range?

TIA,
pecus

More about : directx cad card

a b U Graphics card
September 25, 2008 4:21:43 PM

Well, the best value for the money is the ATI Radeon HD 4850, which falls right around the $160-$180 mark.
a c 106 U Graphics card
September 25, 2008 4:54:19 PM

^+1
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a b U Graphics card
September 25, 2008 4:58:13 PM

It would seem to be optimized for Nvidia cards. Maybe they use CUDA? It is quite odd that the 9800GTX outperforms the 280GTX in Drawing performance, but it is in your price range.
September 25, 2008 9:30:05 PM

Thanks to all. While reading reviews I second cjl, I agree with DXrick. The 9800GTX is twice as much as the 8800GT but unless it becomes an issue, I'll probably stick with it.
September 25, 2008 10:30:43 PM

Get 8800gt. Since you wanted best value, this is it. $110, no rebates, free shipping.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

4850 is a good card, but that "one size fits all" approach some people takes just doesn't work. If the application is optimized for Nvidia cards, then it can't be helped. Complain about Nvidia's mafia-like business practice all you want, at the end of the day, you'll still have to stick with what works.
a b U Graphics card
September 25, 2008 10:41:17 PM

Yeah those results seem to be very driver affected with the GF8800GTX changing about 15+% based on drivers. And the tests are pretty suspect, if you look at 'ALL tests' then you see further down the X1950Pro outperforming the GF8800GTX, and GTX280, and HD 4800 series and 3870, etc.
Sounds like it's just reading performance off a system which happens to have that card, not that it's dependant on it for performance. Like if it's an app that favour 60% CPU poiwer and 40% GPU power and it's hooked up to a dual Xeon-quad setup with a X1950pro then it's 8 cores destroys the single Dual core Opteron hooked up to a GTX280, but the difference isn't atributed to the real cause, just that the X1950 outperformed the GTX280. It also doesn't make much sense based on the geometry advantages of the HD4K > GTX280 > HD3870~GF8800 > X1950.

IMO the GF9800GTX+ would be the way to go simply due to less heat and power. Some of them are selling fro the $160 range on NewEgg right now. But the GF8800GT is ok too, and definitely can be found cheaper.

As for Quadros they had a few in the tests, and FireGL as well, the advantage of Quadros is access to the 32XAA support they have. The thing to do might be to get a Geforce and then try the SoftMod conversion to a Quadro for the added AA.
a b U Graphics card
September 25, 2008 11:11:24 PM

DUH !!

Click on the links, THEY AREN'T ALL RUNNING THE SAME DEFAULTS !! :heink: 

They are running different resolutions, colour depth, etc.
The first HD4800 series card on the list runs the test @ 1280x1024, the first GTX280 on the list runs @ 1024x768, and the GTX+ that tops the list is testing at 800x600 !!

BRUTTALLY USELESS LIST !! :pfff:  :pt1cable:  :pfff: 

I kinda thought something was wonky when further down the list the results show a GF8600GT and X1650Pro beating, the GF9800GX2, HD4800 series, Quadro FX 5600 and GF8800GTX.
September 25, 2008 11:14:58 PM

TheGreatGrapeApe said:
DUH !!

Click on the links, THEY AREN'T ALL RUNNING THE SAME DEFAULTS !! :heink: 

They are running different resolutions, colour depth, etc.
The first HD4800 series card on the list runs the test @ 1280x1024, the first GTX280 on the list runs @ 1024x768, and the GTX+ that tops the list is testing at 800x600 !!

BRUTTALLY USELESS LIST !! :pfff:  :pt1cable:  :pfff: 

I kinda thought something was wonky when further down the list the results show a GF8600GT and X1650Pro beating, the GF9800GX2, HD4800 series, Quadro FX 5600 and GF8800GTX.


ROFL, good eyes. :na: 
a b U Graphics card
September 25, 2008 11:17:17 PM

dagger said:

4850 is a good card, but that "one size fits all" approach some people takes just doesn't work. If the application is optimized for Nvidia cards, then it can't be helped. Complain about Nvidia's mafia-like business practice all you want, at the end of the day, you'll still have to stick with what works.


That only applies if it mirrors actual performance, and not simply people's conclusion based on a flawed list, eh! :kaola: 
Nvidia's cards are list optimized running at 800x600 instead of 1280x1024, must be because of CUDA. ;) 
September 25, 2008 11:22:23 PM

TheGreatGrapeApe said:
That only applies if it mirrors actual performance, and not simply people's conclusion based on a flawed list, eh! :kaola: 
Nvidia's cards are list optimized running at 800x600 instead of 1280x1024, must be because of CUDA. ;) 


Bah, hey, I didn't realize that at first. You didn't either. That seems like a list compiled from different sources rather than a real benchmark. :p 

8800gt for $110 is still better bang for the buck than 4850 though, so that part still applies.
a b U Graphics card
September 25, 2008 11:54:10 PM

dagger said:
Bah, hey, I didn't realize that at first. You didn't either... :p 


Oh I know, but even at first it looked wonky.

I was just poking fun at how people were looking hard to explain the benefits of the nV cards over ATi, without actually stoping to think GF8800GTX+GF8800GT+GTX280 = nV = CUDA. So optimized for nV? 'Oh yeah, that's a given obviously, must be because of CUDA'. And not saying WTF is a GF8800GTS-320 doing outperforming an GTX280? 'Cause it ain't due to CUDA.
And I still ask that question since the GTS-320 is running 1152x864 vs the GTX280 runing 1024x768. WTF!?! It's gotta be other stuff like CPU differences as well.

I definitely didn't pick up exactly what it was at first, but I did think it was wonky, and I also didn't jump to conclusions first, only theories once looking into the anomalies further.

Quote:
8800gt for $110 is still better bang for the buck than 4850 though, so that part still applies.


Based on what though?
If we had standardized tests, then you'd know for sure, but geometry performance even in standardized tests flip flops depending on type of geometry calculations, see here (overall though HD4K has raw geometry power, with a bunch of notable exceptions when using different geometry tests elsewhere);
http://www.digit-life.com/articles3/video/rv770-3-part1...
It's obviously a solid card, and a pretty good deal for most situations, and likely the GF8800GT will be more than adequate for the job, but until we really now how they perform with the same systems, I couldn't tell you what would be a better buy because all we know is price, not really relative performance. So it's $/? for value?
September 26, 2008 6:44:11 AM

I love posting to this forum!

I did see that those tests were not standardized, but I simply wrote it off when looking at the top card.

Thanks a lot to TheGreatGrateApe for the insight. I have no clue as to why the GTX280 scores so low. The technical requirements for the application merely list DirectX 9c as a requirement and I have searched both on Bentley and on Nvidia websites for optimized drivers, and found none. So that is an open question (which I won't answer, the 280 is waaay over budget :-)

I'll shop for the best deal on the GF9800GTX (in Italy, where I live), and downgrade to 8800GT just in case of budget.

Thanks everyone!
a b U Graphics card
September 26, 2008 3:46:02 PM

Yeah, despite all our initial guessing, I think you're still on the right track, and there were sound reasons behind the recommendations for the GTX+ and GT as a whole. (Although I am tempted to get either the HD2400Pro here at work or GF8600GTS I'm testing a CUDA app on, and slapping it on one of our higher end workstations here to see if I can run it at 640x480x16bit and knock off one of those top 10 with such a weak little card. :evil:  )

Living in Italy, kinda changes the NewEgg mentality, it may be tough to find the GTX+ (which is really a different beast than the plain GTX card IMO), but the GF8800GT should be fine for your needs, sure you might get slightly better performance from another card (maybe even an ATi card), but really by the looks of things we aren't talking about dramatic differences other than primarily statistical differences, from a practical perspective, I'd say any solid DX9c card (* more on that lateR) seems to give you good performance even older generation mid-range cards. The GF8800GT should be perfect, and even let you do some light gaming and other things should you need a break from the grind. :sol: 

Really both the GT and GTX+ are good solid cards, with solid geometry performance, good memory size and bandwidth which should do well for CAD related apps.

The only thing I would double check is 3D acceleration in multi-monitor situations, it was an issue with older drivers, but I haven't kept up on whether there's been an update to fix it. But really, based on the posted performance of second monitors on their site (very nice that they do show dual monitor performance), there doesn't seem to be much issue with this app for the drivers listed in those results, which still provide north of 100fps.

Good Luck, Eh!

* Just FYI, not sure how much DX9c is 'required' considering there are results further down involving the GF2MX and even a Rage 128 pro (which doesn't even have vertex shader supposrt [although there is a geometry engine for OGL] , I have an AIW PCI version and it struggled with a good 3D desktop from the DX8 era [it's DX6]), pff and in those results they're outperforming a GF8800GTS at the same resolution ?
Just weird, I'm thinking they're running in software mode of something and being hobbled by being hooked up to weak CPUs.
September 26, 2008 4:34:28 PM

Quote:
Just weird, I'm thinking they're running in software mode of something and being hobbled by being hooked up to weak CPUs.


Yes, they state the app falls to software mode emulation failing to find DX9c or a board that supports it.

As for value for buck, Asus/Pny/Gigabyte 9800GTX+ 179€ = 261$ @current exchange, but rates don't reflect affordability (using a perceived exchange rate, it would be 199$ or so). And I think this is an average price on newegg before rebates.
a b U Graphics card
September 26, 2008 6:31:55 PM

pecus said:
Quote:
Just weird, I'm thinking they're running in software mode of something and being hobbled by being hooked up to weak CPUs.


Yes, they state the app falls to software mode emulation failing to find DX9c or a board that supports it.


Yeah, but the GF8800GTS is DX9c (DX10) compliant, as are a bunch of other ones in the area running similar resolutions.
I'm not surprised that the ones running at higher resolution or the older cards are slumming in th basement, but someone seems to be running that GTS in software mode too, or else it's hooked up to something like a pentium2 and hecka bottlenecked.

Quote:
As for value for buck, Asus/Pny/Gigabyte 9800GTX+ 179€ = 261$ @current exchange, but rates don't reflect affordability (using a perceived exchange rate, it would be 199$ or so). And I think this is an average price on newegg before rebates.


Yeah I never work on raw exchange rates, heck even a few km across the US border from Seattle in Vancouver, you can't get anywhere near equivalent deals to the sales on NewEgg here in Canada.
Well if the GF8800GT better fits your budget, then it's definitely a solid choice for this kind of work.

edit- BTW, also, if it's not a work machine, and more for working from home you can try using the SoftQuadro mod option if it gives you the Extra AA support. I mean if you're geting 100-200fps anyways, heck see if you can get solid viewable at 32XAA as well. I'm not sure what the particular app supports, but the Quadros do have that nice option for some apps.

http://www.techarp.com/showarticle.aspx?artno=539
!