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Best Professional Graphics Card (~$300): Soft-modded or Genuine

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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September 1, 2010 6:29:39 PM

Greetings.

I wanted to know which professional graphics card to buy. My budget is $300.

I would like to use the following software:

SolidWorks, AutoCAD, Inventor, CATIA, Maya, 3ds Max, Blender, Adobe Premiere, eyeOn Fusion, AfterEffects, Nuke, Photoshop and similar software.

If I go in for a Quadro or a FirePro, the options (sub - $300 category) are pretty sparse.

1. NVIDIA Quadro FX 580
2. AMD FirePro v5700 / v4800
3. (Haven't come across any other decent ones, so please add to this list.)

On the other hand, if I purchase a Radeon 4870 and soft-mod it, at-least theoretically, it is supposed to perform like the FirePro v8700.

Or a GeForce 8800 GTX (or Ultra) and soft-mod it to Quadro FX 4600/5600.

[I wonder if the soft-mods will work with Windows 7 64 bit though?]

So I have 2 questions:

1. Should I go in for a soft-modded card or a genuine Quadro / FirePro?
2. If you answered soft-modded card to Q1, then which one?
If you answered genuine card to Q1, then which one?


Thanks a lot.
September 1, 2010 7:59:57 PM

That's quite a list of software! Are you planning on doing professional, paying work with it, or are you a student or hobbiest?

If professional work is what you are after, go with the Genuine Quadro/FirePro solution. Check E-Bay for older models, especially Quadro 3800's now that the new Quadro's are coming out. Prices are dropping rapidly as people sell off older cards to upgrade. I've seen Quadro FX 1500's for $40.00! Jam 2 of those into and SLI config and you got some decent power rolling out for less than $100. The older FireGL's are still good as well (ATI went from FireGL to FirePRO sometime in 2008). These older cards are cheap, work great and are tried and true for professional applications like you mentioned.

As for hobbiest or student use, go for the softmod. You have the luxury of not depending on the card to perform correctly in the throws of a huge project with a looming deadline (well, maybe as a student you might, but you can always use the schools system). Again, you can pick up a card on EBay very cheap to test the softmod. And, you can undo the softmod and play games with it, something the workstation cards cannot do very well.

Not sure about the Windows 7 softmod issue. Sorry.
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Best solution

September 2, 2010 11:46:56 PM

After some more research, I would recommend the FirePRO V4800 over a softmod.
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April 5, 2011 9:55:59 PM

Best answer selected by hmdhruvarora.
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