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Help choosing graphic card for 3D modeling

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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January 14, 2012 2:41:10 PM

Hi all,

I really need to replace my 2005 computer and thought of getting one custom made.
I don't have much experience with hardware, and reading different forums give me contrary informations... So I thought to try out posting a question myself :) 

My two main questions are about the processor and the graphics card.


I don't play any games at all (except the odd online game, Farmville and the likes ^^), my main occupation is 3D modeling.
The programs I use most are, of course, SketchUp and VRay and Kerkythea for rendering, but I occasionally use AutoCAD and Blender and I'd love to try out CityEngine.


This is where the doubt sets in...

Most people agree that the nVidia cards are way better than the ATI/AMD ones.

But while some say the Quadro (FX) series are especially designed for modeling and rendering and are the best you can get, others say that they are overprised and have the same power as the GTX series.

I have a total budget of about $900 for the computer (excl. monitor etc), so I guess I shouldn't go over $250 for the graphics card.
My first choice was the Quadro FX580 or the Quadro 600, but any advice is welcome...

Second part is the main processor.
While Intel is supposed to be the "best", I noticed it doesn't support OpenGl very well...
Should I opt for an AMD chipset, or will an Intell Core i5 be ok? (I chose not to get the i7 to save some money so I could spend more on a decent graph card)

Thanks for any tips, advice or remarks!
Tom
January 14, 2012 3:13:10 PM

I'm not sure, my buddy does 3d rendering, but I think he just uses regular GPU. It is mostly about your ram when it comes to compiling them anyway so more ram is better.
January 14, 2012 4:35:07 PM

my advice is, if you do modeling in open gl (autocad, maya and major industry wide softwares use it for example)- buy firepro v4900. it is one step newer generation than quadro 600 and two step generation newer than quadro fx 580. has better performance than quadro 600 and has same price as fx 580(strangely fx 580 costs more than quadro 600). but nVidia is known to have better optimized and more stable drivers than AMD, but I guess v4900 with its performance advantage will still overcome nvidias' better optimization, plus it will also give you better overall experience if you do like gaming. don't know about amd's stability, but with nvidia's drivers you will never experience driver-caused crashes in autocad(difference between driver-caused and program bugs you can easily see - if it's caused by program it asks you if you want to save scene file as it was before error had its place, and when it's caused by driver it just crashes and error reporting window spawns), I have not tried amd gpu yet, so don't know about their drivers.

plus there also are hyper-optimized drivers for specific application(for example autocad).

but if you want GPU rendering, or want GPU accelerated adobe software - buy nvidia gaming card, with as much as possible Cuda cores(don't think about amd cards - nothing uses their streaming processors...). but I don't think 280$ card will give you same result as even good I5.

and again, you can search on youtube somehing like "quadro 600 vs gtx specviewperf test", it's open-gl test. you'll see performance difference. then search firepro vs quadro test and it will show you performance difference between them, but usually because of better drivers by nvidia - same generation cards work similarly(for example quadro 600 and firepro v4800 in reality were working similarly, but v4800 had better performance in benchmarks and non-pro stuff).


and yes - they are overpriced, but much little bit than some say they are, then if it has some problems contact warranty center and you'll have reason to ask them what you will have to ask.

but, you still will be able to play games on mid. settings
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January 14, 2012 4:52:44 PM

and by the way it takes same amount of ram if you do GPU rendering on card as it would take for CPU rendering, difference is where it takes - from GPU(VRAM) or from CPU(RAM).

so, good scene will take more than 1 GB ram on rendering, and if you'll do GPU rendering it will crash application(or at least freeze for hours), adding vram to card is unrealistic, you'll have to buy card with more than 1 GB ram. when adding basic(motherboard) RAM to your system is cheaper and is good for overall computing.

but again, if you're using Direct 3d applications you'll get better optimization and much better stability on workstation card than same performance gaming card, but price is much different, with same price you can buy 3 times faster gaming card for Direct 3D(directx), you'll buy only stability from pro card in this scenario. but as your card's generation is getting older you'll see huge difference between gaming and pro card on its stability side(6 years old Ws card will be as stable as 6 months old gaming one).

so its up to you. if you want stability buy Ws card, if you want it for long term buy Ws card, if you want gaming buy gaming card, if you want to play games in linux buy Ws card :D 

(Ws=workstation)
January 15, 2012 9:19:13 AM

janiashvili said:
and by the way it takes same amount of ram if you do GPU rendering on card as it would take for CPU rendering, difference is where it takes - from GPU(VRAM) or from CPU(RAM).


Hey, thanks for that!
I thought rendering was always on the GPU memory, that's why I was so keen on getting a pro card. but I could stick to 1GB GPU as long as there's enough CPU then. that helps a lot! cards with 3 or 4GB ram on it cost up to $4000....
I had read about Quadro 600 vs Firepro 3D 4800, in which the Quadro was clearly superior. But I'll have a look for the V4900, it's quite new and I'm curious to see...

About the stability: since I'm not buying a hugely expensive card, and in two years it will be old anyway, I don't have a problem if it would need replacement in a couple of years or so. As long as it doesn't crash on me it's ok ;) 
And yes, I already decided on getting a workstation card and not a gaming card. like I said: I don't really play games so...

Cheers!
Tom
January 15, 2012 10:47:57 AM

also,

all content really displayed on screen is stored in VRAM, all textures you display, all geometry software displays(for example 3ds max optimizes its performance by hiding unseen geometry and taking it to RAM instead of storing it to VRAM, this feature on max forks only on Direct 3d modes(so if you use 3ds max as primary software there's no big point buying Ws card)(this is only for 3ds max, and don't think the same for other softwares)
!