Picking low-mid range workstation cards today?

I am planning to build what is probably my first worthwhile system and I became absolutely lost when I started looking at video cards. At very least I am asking for guidance (what to look for, performance breakpoints, etc...) and value specific suggestions for workstation cards (because I barely game and do a lot more photoshop/ableton/cad). Here are is my situation / requirements from most important to least:

- $300-400, preferably less
- Ability to give more streamlined performance to using Photoshop CS 4, Ableton Live and major 3D/CAD programs (last one I can't be more specific on, but it would be something upcoming)
- Worthwhile advantage in converting video (I have an AVCHD camcorder and soon will be editing/converting a bit of video), audio (I do a lot of FLAC>MP3) and other math (MATLAB?)
- Two monitor desktop, probably via DVI (I have a Samsung 2333SW and will either get another or better)
- Watching Blu-Ray (I am sure this doesn't need much)
- Linux support to some degree, I do most work in Windows but would like to see stuff work easily in Fedora
- Some gaming, but hardly any
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More about picking range workstation cards today
  1. Best answer
    I'm not an expert here, but i was picking out parts for a friend who was going to use a workstation card, and I discovered the softmod to convert geforce (gaming) cards to quadro (workstation) cards. The different series are basically the same hardware wise, they just have different drivers to make them perform better at different things. I'm not an expert but here's the article:

    It might be a good way to save yourself $100+ though
  2. I am honestly not even sure if getting a very low end workstation card would give better performance then a high end gaming card. That is something you should look into. Hardware wise the low end $400 workstation is far far lower in specs then the gaming cards for the same price. If this softmod Fallen linked to works for the drivers you might come off better that way. Still might be better with the gaming drivers letting the raw power fill in for the lack of being designed to do it.
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