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mainstream graphics card for cad/everyday use?

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  • Graphics Cards
  • CAD
  • Graphics
Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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March 27, 2005 2:24:48 PM

I need help choosing a cad/opengl graphics card for a mate which will also run mainstream games etc. I live in Australia. Its very hard to find comparisons of mainstream cards VS professional cards for obvious reasons.

He has a small budget of about $1600 to buy a computer, which he is buying because he is in his second year of a building design/drafting course. I've allocated about AU$400 (roughly US$300) for the card.

Considering he will be in ArchiCAD most of the time, i need a card which will turn out smooth rotations etc in intermediate complexity opengl. Of course, starting off, he will only be engaged in basic models.

The problem i have is that for the price point i mentioned, in australia, i can either get an entry level quadro/fireGL OR a mid range mainstream solution. Here are some examples from www.techbuy.com.au

Professional Solutions

Leadtek Quadro FX500, 128MB DDR, AGP8X $428.85
Leadtek Quadro FX540, 128MB, HDTV/DVI, PCI-Ex16 $385.85
ELSA FIRE GL T2, ATI 9600, 128MB AGP8X, DVI $365.70
ELSA Fire GL V3100, 128MB, PCI-Ex16, HDTV/DVI $379.50

Mainstream Solutions

NVIDIA-----------------
ASUS V9570-TD FX5700, 256MB DDR, TV/DVI $304.85
Gigabyte N66T128D 6600GT, 128MB, TV/DVI, 8X $345.35
XFX 6600, 256MB, Dual-DVI, TV-Out, AGP8X $266.90
XpertVision 6600GT, 128MB, DVI, HDTV, 8X $305.90
XpertVision 6800LE, 128MB, DVI, TV-Out,8X $388.70

ATI-----------------
Abit RX700 PRO, 128MB, TV/DVI, PCI-Ex16 $273.70
ASUS Extreme AX600XT-TD X600XT, $277.05
128MB, TV/DVI, PCI-ex
ASUS Extreme AX700PRO/TVD, RX700PRO, $416.20
256MB, TV/DVI, PCI-Ex
PowerColor Radeon X700 Pro, 256MB, $339.00
PCI-Ex16, TV/DVI

Apologies for listing so many but it may give a better understanding of the many choices here for that price point in AU$$.

agp8x or pci express is fine, if i build a p4 system for him, performance from a 865p or 915p is similar. If you think an athlon64 system would bet better then by all means make a suggestion. Budget can afford a cpu to go with the card at around the 3.2ghz mark.

I guess what i am looking for is a mainstream card which will handle some intermediate stuff in archicad smoothly. I dont think the entry level professional cards will provide enough power to perform other tasks outside of archicad.

If you made it through to this point then thanks a bunch! Would love some reccommendations!

More about : mainstream graphics card cad everyday

March 27, 2005 10:01:42 PM

6600GT is your best price/performance choice for CAD I reckon.

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March 28, 2005 12:29:50 AM

Out of the nvidia cards, would a 6600gt or a 6800LE run quicker? Its always written never to buy an LE. and also, if you dont recommend the 6800LE, would it be wise settle for a 6600 with 256mb or a 6600gt with 128?

XFX 6600, 256MB, Dual-DVI, TV-Out, AGP8X $266.90
XpertVision 6600GT, 128MB, DVI, HDTV, 8X $305.90
XpertVision 6800LE, 128MB, DVI, TV-Out,8X $388.70

im thinking about getting a pci express version of the card to go with:

915p
3.0 prescott
1 gig corsair value ddr2
80 gig sata
19" crt

After the 300-400 dollars spent on the card theres not much left out of 1600 bucks for everything else. So im trying to keep the cost of the card down.

Seeing as the prescott will only be used under full load for rendering final designs, something around 3ghz should be fine shouldnt it? From my point of view it would be desireable to work fast and render a bit slower, than have archicad run like a dog because i spent more on the cpu for an extra 200-400mhz and less on the vid card. Would a 3ghz cpu be able to feed a 6600gt with enough data under extreme load?
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a b U Graphics card
March 28, 2005 2:35:53 AM

My 9600 Pro has more than enough OGL power for very complicated models in Solidworks. The 6600GT I'm guessing is about twice as good as my card, which is twice as much as what I need, so you're talking about a lot of excess graphics power with the 6600GT. And you DO want excess.

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March 28, 2005 3:17:13 AM

ok great, real world experience is most valuable, thanks. I'll head for something around the 6600gt mark, but wont be to worried if i settle for something a small step down.

Is your 9600 pro a 256mb or 128mb card?

One last question... this has probably been asked 2 billion times and ive been reading up on it...and this is kinda off topic i guess so ill make it short..

915p and prescott, or 865p and northwood?

all the reviews say the northwood is a little faster, yet they seem to sit on the fence as to which to buy. The pricing of the parts is about the same, although motherboards for the northwood seem to be quite a bit cheaper. Can anyone please recommend some budget full sized boards for 915p please. I have a p4p800 with a 2.8 northwood in it and its been great so far. My friend does not need raid, but needs built in sound and ethernet.

The features in a 915p board will not interest him and there is no performance gain so im having a hard time justifying a new prescott system. Upgradability is the only positive i can see.
a b U Graphics card
March 28, 2005 3:47:59 AM

My 9600 Pro is a 128MB card, most 265MB versions are using slower RAM!

I'd definately pick a Northwood over a Prescott, it outputs around 1/3 less heat and often performs better.

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March 28, 2005 4:34:46 AM

ok sweet, your a great help.

now ill just read for countless more hours on if a s939 3200+ or a 3ghz northwood would be better. So many choices..
March 28, 2005 5:07:17 AM

Another option that you could go with, if you use AGP, is to get the 9800Pro and softmod it into the FireGL card. They are actually the same card, but just need a softmod to change from the 9800 to the FireGL.
March 28, 2005 5:54:07 AM

oh man..i tried softquadro on a gf3 ti200 and a g4 ti4200 and had no success... is soft modding the 9800 pro to a GL easily done? I've never owned an ATI card before, always wanted to try one tho
March 28, 2005 2:21:34 PM

Every softmod I've ever seen is a pain in the ass.

If CAD is your thing, and game's aren't a priority... well, a hardmod is much easier - assuming you can or know someone who is comfortable with soldering tiny resistors on the GPU packaging. :) 

The 6800LE has 8 pipes like the 6600GT, but it's clockspeed is much slower. The 6800LE has a better memory interface, but that's not as important in CAD apps.

6800LE's can be modded to 12 or even 16 pipes, but that's a big risk...
________________
<b>Radeon <font color=red>9700 PRO</b></font color=red> <i>(o/c 332/345)</i>
<b>AthlonXP <font color=red>3200+</b></font color=red> <i>(Barton 2500+ o/c 400 FSB)</i>
<b>3dMark03: <font color=red>5,354</b>
a b U Graphics card
March 28, 2005 5:31:38 PM

Ditto.

The GF6600GT is a good choice, should be more than capable, especially considering the price range. For saving money maybe a plain jane GF6600, but I think the GF6800LE is a fair bit more expensive, and really without the successful mod, is usually a worse card overall.

Depending on the app he may find some benifit out of more memory, even at a slightly slower clock (but made up for with 256bit), some applications really benifit from having that kind of texture storage space, even when somewhat core limited. It's funny we mention the core limitation since seriously the GF6600GT have more raw core power than the FX5900/Quadro3000, so maybe the GF6800LE might offer some benifit in some situations. But overall I agree, not worth the usually very large additional cost for what is lilely to be somehwat limited benifit, and a definite loss in game playing power (which granted is somewhat secondary here).


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March 29, 2005 1:37:18 AM

To be honest I never tried it when I had the 9800pro, but I have friends that have done it and they said it was fairly easy. They don't know too much about computers but found the sites with instructions and were able to do it with ease.
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