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Advice on GPU for CAD/Workstation GPU

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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May 31, 2012 5:31:20 PM

Hello,

I need to get some feedback on this issue. I have built many gaming/general use systems over the years but never a CAD system.

Recently a friend saw some of my latest handiwork on the systems I have around the house (HTPC, gaming system, Silicon Dust Homerun Prime etc) and he wants my help in building a home built workstation system for him.

I compiled a list of various components with options for the mobo, cpu, PSU, cast etc. And after discussing it with him have decided on most of it with the exception of the GPU.

As an aside I am admittedly an AMD fanboy but this will be an I5 Ivory Bridge system, most likely a 3450 with 16 gigs of ram (probably corsair) as I want to give him the fastest possible system for his investment. Since I am doing this pro bono he has more flexibility but his max budget is in the $1,100 to 1,200 range.

Now after looking at the vendors I have some questions.

It appears that the NVIDIA Quadro series is used more commonly than AMD/ATI Fire GL, is this true?

Is there a good budget card that will at least be a good starting card for him for under $200? Recommendations would be appreciated.

I have discussed the benefits of using an SSD (at least a 256 gb) over a traditional HDD, or at least a SSD boot and HDD storage hybrid. Is my assertion that the SSD would improve productivity correct?

Also for posterity sake, why can we not use a good gaming card? I know there is most likely a good reason for this but I would like to actually know the answer as opposed to guessing.

Thanks in advance for any help.
a c 291 U Graphics card
May 31, 2012 5:38:54 PM

First of all, I'd really advice going with unlocked i5-3550k or even i5-2500k system and overclocking it. Trust me, you want overclocking in CAD system. It improves the rendering times TREMENDOUSLY.

Secondly, yes, Nvidia Quadros are more popular, but I have no idea why (maybe they are better?).

Thirdly, I'd recommend Nvidia Quadro 600.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

One of my friends use it for design in Cinema 4d, and it works better with it than my GTX 560 Ti (though I use it for gaming mainly).

The difference between gaming card and workstation card is drivers, mainly. The gaming cards are locked on OpenGL for some reason - they cannot be utilized 100%. I've tried running cinebench benchmark for cinema 4d - it's an openGL benchmark - my GTX 560 ti doesn't go above 40% load. Workstation cards are utilized 100%.

SSD improves loading times. Depends on the work he does, it may or may not help him.
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May 31, 2012 6:10:11 PM

Thank you Sunius,

Those are helpful recommendations. I looked at the Quadro 600 but this helps me to decide, and he can always upgrade later.

I will look into the i5-3550k and see if I can find a bargain on it.

I saw a Crucial 256 gig SSD on Newegg for less than a dollar a gig (I think it was for $209) but that deal has most likely passed on. I like Corsair and have heard good things about Mushkin Chronos but there were also bad reviews on Newegg for some of the Mushkin models. I know I am not going with OCZ for sure as the reviews are horrid for almost every model they provide.

That makes sense regarding the driver issue on the cards, thanks for that explanation. I will update this later and let you know how this turns out.
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a c 291 U Graphics card
May 31, 2012 6:16:19 PM

Okay. Glad I gave you info your required ;) .
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