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Help. I need a GPU for photography and CAD work

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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September 19, 2011 3:24:59 PM

I'm building a new computer and I'm in a bit of a bind. I'm not a gamer, nor am I interested in HT. Nothing in the reviews nor the manufacturers specifications seem to let me know what would be best for my needs.

So far I'm looking at:
CPU - AMD X4 630
MB - Asus M4A88T-M LE
RAM - Samsung 4G stick PC3-10600 1,333ghz (upgrade to 8 later)
PSU - Antec VO550P 550W

This is really all my current budget will allow and I'm pretty confident this will do except for the GPU...I'm at a loss. I could cut down on the CPU I suppose, but the 10 dollar difference for the x3 455 is only a couple of beers...

I often edit 60MB TIFF files (5000X3500) and RAW files either from my DSLR or my Nikon Cool Scan V ED. I also design houses and whatnot from time to time and plan to be running Autodesk for some small home projects. Autodesk recommends a minimum AMD 3GHz dual core 64 bit 2 GB RAM and 1,024 X 768 display resolution with true color. So I think I'm more than good so far but I really hate getting done to some fine window detail or something and finding my computer sluggish. It can make drawing a simple line hard and frustrating. It also makes it tough for me to open several graphic files so that I can compare them.

I have read countless reviews and can't pick if I need a 125$ unit or a 50$ unit.

Gigabyte HD 5750 UDV D5 1G silent - 125$
Gigabyte HD 5570 HDMI D3 1G - 104$
Gigabyte GT 240 UDV HDMI D3 1G - 101$
Asus HD 5670 EAH 5670 D3 1G - 99$
Gigabyte HD 5670 UD2 D3 1G - 80$
Sapphire HD 5570 HM D3 1G - 72$
Asus GT 520 1G silent - 70$
Asus GT 220 ENGT220 D2 1G - 70$
Gigabyte GT 520 D3 1G - 60$
Asus G 210 EN210 V2 D3 Silent 1G - 50$

I've selected only cards with a 1GB cache because it was suggested on a photographic web site (that had little else worth adding unfortunately)

I also want a card that runs cool and uses as little energy as possible. Obviously I'd love to save my pennies for beer and buy the little, silent cool running Asus G210 or the Gigabyte GT520. If however my need for 2 monitors (a 22 and a 19 inch) of work space with large images and design drawings (while listening to tunes of course) then I will be forced to bite the bullet and buy either the Gigabyte GT240 or HD5570...then I'll get to play some games too I suppose.

Any help would be very helpful. I hope to keep this rig running for the next 5 years.
a c 206 U Graphics card
September 19, 2011 3:34:52 PM

What kind of connectors are you using for your 2 monitors (VGA, DVI, HDMI, etc)?
September 20, 2011 7:42:40 AM

COLGeek said:
What kind of connectors are you using for your 2 monitors (VGA, DVI, HDMI, etc)?


Good question. At the moment, only VGA. My monitors can handle DVI though and will be looking at possibly changing once I get a new system. I really have no use for the HDMI on some of the cards I mentioned.
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a c 206 U Graphics card
September 20, 2011 11:24:44 AM

When you change to the new GPU, you should definitely change over to DVI. Image quality will be better (all around). That being said, for best results, a GPU with 2 DVI ports would be optimal (or 1 DVI and 1 HDMI or DP to be used with an adapter). The idea is to use the digital ports vice the analog VGA port.
a c 104 U Graphics card
September 20, 2011 11:45:58 AM

Got this from others ;

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.

The pro (Quadro, FireGL) drivers allow for more control over certain settings in CAD apps, and are geared to accelerate OpenGL pro apps instead of games. The last time I read a review with a gaming card vs. it's pro counterpart playing a game, the pro drivers tended to accelerate games slower than the consumer drivers, and the pro drivers tended to accelerate CAD apps much faster than consumer drivers.


Depends on what you define as CAD. I'm defining it generally as computer aided design - which includes 3d visualization tools like 3dsMAX and MAYA.
In these apps, the GPU makes a huge difference with viewport redraws, even in wireframe only mode with complex meshes. And pro card drivers help alot in viewport refreshes that include textures and transparency.
When doing a final CPU-based render to an image file, the graphics card doesn't matter, at that point it's all CPU and RAM. The graphics card can absolutely speed up viewport renders, though.
September 24, 2011 1:05:12 PM

Thanks for the help. I'm not really in a position to buy a workstation... those things are pricey. The info was helpful though. I have one question, why are the workstation GPUs so expensive? The GPUs I've selected have much higher specs and cost much less. Are they really as good as they say, dollar for dollar?
September 24, 2011 1:08:42 PM

Stupid question,

The GPU I've selected is Directx11.1 while my motherboard can handle DirectX10.1. Will this GPU still work with my Motherboard or will Directx be unable to work?
a c 104 U Graphics card
September 24, 2011 2:57:42 PM

I think when it comes to real professional and very complex CAD use the workstations will be better, but like you say they are the same GPU, only different configured. I think they are overpriced indeed. Don't know why. Maybe because it's not mass production ? Probably don't sell much of them and have to write different drivers and stuff. I dunno.

I think, but am NOT sure, that the card will work as a DX10 card then.
a c 206 U Graphics card
September 24, 2011 3:50:31 PM

earthbound14 said:
Stupid question,

The GPU I've selected is Directx11.1 while my motherboard can handle DirectX10.1. Will this GPU still work with my Motherboard or will Directx be unable to work?

One has nothing to do with the other. You are comparing the capabilities of the on-board video (10.1) to those of the stand alone video (11.1). Since you only use the stand alone when installed, the on-board doesn't matter (it is de-activated).
September 25, 2011 12:06:18 AM

Perfect, that's what I was hoping for. The specs were a little confusing using the same wording for the DirectX as they did for the speed of RAM the board can handle. I was worried that it ment it was only compatible with DirectX10.1 cards.
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