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CAD card or regular?

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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May 28, 2005 6:01:23 PM

I am buying a new system and agonizing over whether to buy a workstation specific graphics card vs. a regular one. I do not play games, not concerned with overclocking, am doing a lot of AutoCAD 2d, with more and more 3D, using other CAD programs as well, playing with VIZ a bit, so that's my direction, plus normal MS office stuff, internet, many programs and windows open at once, 19" LCD for now, someday with two. I want two DVI plugs, seems like PCI-express is the way to go for a new system. I am configuring my new system via Cyberpowersystem.com (every time I add up the parts at Newegg, seems like I can get a already built one for not much premium). Pricing thru Cyber is about $188 for 6600 GT 128MB 16X, $329 for X800XL 256MB 16X PCI EXPRESS, and $339 for ATI FIREGL X1 128MB DDR (Cyber only offers AGP for workstation -- could buy PCI system and get FireGL 3200 via Newegg for $300) So, what do I get for a $300+ card in workstation vs regular? Do I get better software behavior? Better drawing performance? It seems like the tech specs of workstation cards a always less than regular cards, but always cost more. My instructors who use CAD all day long (and all night) just use regular cards and they work fine. Will a $200 card work "just fine", or will I get more for my system by spending the $300-$350 for a workstation card? Your opinions and knowledge are much appreciated....

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a b U Graphics card
May 30, 2005 5:50:39 AM

A $350 workstation card compares to a $130 game card. Often both use the same hardware. Drivers are different, but I've NEVER had a problem with ANY of my game cards in Autocad, Solidworks, Unigraphics, or Catia.

The 6600GT will likely be more than you'll need for your work, anything faster will boost both work and games.

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May 30, 2005 1:56:39 PM

Workstation cards are gaming cards with different drivers.

Having said that, those different drivers that are specific to the pro CAD cards make a COLOSSAL difference in professional app performance. Screen redraws and refreshes are much, much faster.

I'm usually a proponent of Ati cards in the $300 price point, but I'm a 3d professional and, in my opinion, Nvidia's drivers - both on their pro cards as well as their gaming cards - are wayyy more stable and fast in pro CAD apps.

Don't bother with the FireGL X1. Get the 6800GT if you can afford it, otherwise get a cheap FX5700 or FX5900 if you're not going to do any gaming. There are even software mods that allow you to use the professional quadro drivers on FX series cards, you should look into that...

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May 30, 2005 2:20:16 PM

The high end CAD cards compute more precise and are not as fast in gaming, but excel in CAD.
On the other hand, a high end Gaming card costs less, is faster in games and has more support, and I have never had a problem using CAD all day.
Actually, a $500 Gaming card seems to outperform the $900 pro CAD cards, IMO...
I quit the pro CAD card route, unless I can discern an advantage myself...

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June 4, 2005 12:45:20 PM

This is where I am on my video card decision:
1)Quadro FX 1400 pull from a Dell worksstaton for $370 on ebay (new about $700 or so). No drivers or cables -- will downloaded drivers from nvidia be ok and work well? (Has anyone had or heard of folks having luck buying CAD card "pulls" such as shown on e-bay?)
2)New 6800GT
3)New 6600GT with an SLI motherboard so if I choose I can add another one down the road.
$350-400 is my max for a video card, and while I am leaning toward a CAD card, I'm feeling that game cards noted above will probably serve me quite well.

Thank you for your insight....
!