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Video Card Conundrum

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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March 19, 2009 12:16:20 PM

Okay... here is my setup:

Asus P6T Deluxe (non-OC)
Core i7 920 - 2.66GHz
6GB (3x2GB) Corsair DDR3 RAM @ 1333MHz
PNY nVidia Quadro FX1700 512MB RAM
300GB 10,000RPM WD VelociRaptor System HD
1TB 7,200RPM WD Caviar Black Data HD
Samsun 22X DVD+/-R Burner w/ LightScribe
Linksys WMP54G Wireless Card
Coolermaster V8 CPU Cooler
Noctua NF-P12 Fans (x2)
Hiper Anubis Mid ATX Case
Corsair CMPSU-750TX 750W Power Supply
Vista Ultimate x64
Dell 2408FPW 24" Widescreen Monitor (1920x1200)

I bought the Quadro card because I expect to be running Solidworks from time to time and I was under the impression that SW would straight up not run with a GeForce card. I have since learned that my coworker is using solidworks with a GTX260 and despite some multiple-window performance issues, he is having no problems with the software.

I have another week or two before my return-window though Amazon closes and I am stuck with my Quadro. My thinking is that a card like the GTX285 (unsure which make, XFX, BFG, etc...) would be better suited for general use with occasional CAD, have more onboard RAM and processing power, and save me ~$80 versus the Quadro.

My question to the masses is: Which card would be the best bet for me? I'm not a benchmark junkie or a power-gamer, so I don't need bleeding edge. My thought process is as follows:

1. GTX295 is nice, but probably overkill for what I need at this point in time. Also, would cost an additional $80 over the quadro (~$500).

2. GTX285 seems to be significantly better than the FX1700, is cheaper, and I can buy another one when the next gen of cards comes out at an even lower price. My hope is that I would have a good performer now and then a setup better than a single GTX295 when I can have two 285s in SLI. If the prices come down enough, the total cost may be similar to 1 GTX295 (at current cost).

Any recommendations?

More about : video card conundrum

March 20, 2009 2:34:15 PM

Where is everone? No opinions on this?

Very close to pulling the trigger on 2x XFX GTX260 Black Edition... wish I could trade the second bundled copy of FC2 for something else... :-/

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a b U Graphics card
March 20, 2009 2:57:36 PM

Wheres that confounded Ape?
March 20, 2009 4:23:54 PM

???

Thanks for the input! :-P

I believe Plant says "Where's that confounded bridge?"... but you get an A for effort!
a b U Graphics card
March 20, 2009 5:28:34 PM

He must be over the hills and far away
March 20, 2009 6:29:21 PM

Led Zep kick?

Any opinions WRT the video card dilemma?
March 20, 2009 6:56:30 PM

I'm not familiar with Solidworks, their website lists only the Quadro cards as being compatible. If you are sure that a GTX 260 will work, don't hesitate to pick those up, they are great cards at a great price. If you ever plan to use Adobe CS4 though, hang on to the Quadro (only Photoshop will work with a GeForce, the rest of the apps require a Quadro for hardware acceleration).
a b U Graphics card
March 20, 2009 7:04:33 PM

If SW works, then the 260 sli would be a great setup, tho remember, youll have the sli problems, while the 285 wont have them. If I wanted the best? Id sli the 260s. Least problems and great perf? 285
March 20, 2009 7:11:44 PM

Wifey has a Macbook Pro for her adobe pshop and illustrator. It would be nice to be able to use those on the new tower though... :-/

My coworker swears he can run solidworks with a 260 even though some of the "realview" graphics are disabled (this is advanced texturing that isn't 100% necessary, IMO.

What are the "sli problems"? I've been reading as much as possible about this stuff but no one mentions explicitly what those problems are... I'm guessing its just driver support for SLI? My mobo, psu, etc... all say "SLI ready" in some fashion...

It's really frusturating that I need to choose between being able to do freelance on the side, and having a computer that can handle newer video games. :fou: 
a b U Graphics card
March 20, 2009 7:23:21 PM

SLI, ok, well, as you said, if theres no optimization for a game, or sometimes poor scaling, youre stuck with what you get. Ill mention micro stuttering, it does happen, but not usually if your fps are high enough, and the G200 series is powerful enough where MS isnt seen much, if at all
March 20, 2009 7:50:00 PM

In that scenario I could always disable SLI and use it as a single GTX260, right?

I'm not planning on maxing out Crysis at highest res or anything. 1920x1200 with moderate settings would be fine... although I do plan on playing games like HL2, FC2 and Crysis - Warhead.

a b U Graphics card
March 20, 2009 8:18:49 PM

Youll be fine. Yes, you can disable sli also, but most new games work fine, tho sometimes theres problems with drivers, just like any card, except having 2 cards does increase problems. Im not trying to over state driver problems, but they do exist. Check this link, it may be helpful http://www.anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=3517
March 22, 2009 5:06:01 PM

Decided to put the Quadro to the Game test today... Installed Crysis: Warhead and spent a few minuted poking around the system setup.

I was having an issue where I couldn't use the mouse pointer correctly in the menu, regardless of what resolution I tried, when the game was full screen. Finally managed to get things working by turning all settings to minimum and trying my native resolution of 1920x1200.

The game has a lot of promise, but I was having a tough time playing due to the choppiness. I turned on the frame rate display and saw that I was only getting ~12-15 FPS in the first chapter of the game (not a lot going on). In the menu I only see 20 FPS, which is not a good indication for playability down the line. Also, with the rest of my computer being pretty damn good, it kinda sucks to have to dial everything to minimum and still not have a playable framerate because of the Quadro video card.

Now I'm going to try HL2, and see if I can get some better results. Either way, it looks like I'll be ordering the 2x GTX260 tonight.
March 22, 2009 10:50:57 PM

Half Life runs great (relatively)... pegged around 60 FPS most of the time but I see it hit 1xx occasionally and 30fps during explosions, with everything maxed out, full AA and AF.

I do have occasional trouble getting Portal to start, but other than that it works great.

Now hopefully I can get much better results with the pair of 260s in Crysis, cause that game looks sick!
March 23, 2009 1:49:23 AM

With 2 260's in SLI, everything will be smooth, including Crysis. I built a very similar system to yours (but with only 1 260 for now) and Crysis is rock solid maxed out. HL2, and other Source engine games average 150+ fps. What brand/model cards did you order?
March 23, 2009 2:34:13 PM

Okay, the order is in... 2x of the XFX Black Editions.

Now I just have to move things around to get them in the case. :) 
March 23, 2009 3:09:21 PM

Question: My Corsair 750TX has four PCI-E 6/8-pin connectors on a single cable. What is the best way to route this between the two cards?

1) First two connectors to slots A and B on the first card, third and fourth connectors to A and B on the second card?

2) First connector to card 1 slot A, second connector to card 2 slot A, third connector to card 1 slot b, fourth to card 2 slot B?

If there is no difference let me know, I'm a mech guy not EE. :p 
March 25, 2009 1:06:30 PM

First build w/ Quadro vs. Cleaned-up wiring w/ SLI 260s.



edit* oops, just noticed my EATX12V connector isn't plugged in... computer still booted up and ran fine though? :??: 

Side-by-side, Quadro & Geforce:



Ran Crysis:Warhead right after install and update to latest nvidia drivers. Bumped all settings up to enthusiast and set AA to 8x. The game is very fluid and looks great, although it gets very blurry when i turn quickly or am taking hits, I am guessing this is part of the game though?

I do notice that when the level starts it takes a few seconds for everything to be rendered. It will start with basic shapes and then everything kinda gets filled in. Every once and a while it will hang slightly, like the first time I tried switching weapons. Also, when I'm taking heavy fire the screen flashes black. Not so much a flicker, almost like the player is blinking or the frame drops out... really weird. I do have SLI enabled through the nvidia control panel... but I'm not sure what else to attribute the glitches too. Any ideas?

edit* When I quit playing Crysis and went back to desktop, my Asus PC Probe was showing CPU and mobo at ~62C. This seemed really high for the mobo (CPU not so much), and in fact had crossed the default alarm threshold. The 260s were running high 60's which seems okay, although I still want to tweak the fan speeds with n*tune, or whatever I was reading about yesterday. The bottom 260 is really close to the floor and I want to make sure its properly ventilated.

Anyways, when I get home I'm going to fix the EATX12V connector and pull the cards so I can get the serial numbers and register with XFX... perhaps they have their own drivers?

One frustration with the install was that I can no longer use the Q-Connectors that merge all the loose connectors from the front panel to the mobo. I had to leave the HD Audio connection to the front panel undone because the cable want long enough to snake around the cards!
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