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Card for 3D Solid Modeling

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
a b U Graphics card
March 10, 2002 6:35:18 PM

About ten pages back Shmeggegie posted "What card for 3D modeler?" I’ve been searching everywhere for similar posts. Let's open up the topic again. I will be using SolidWorks and/or Think3 (still under eval), Illustrator, Photoshop, InDesign as my main apps. I don't do much gaming.
Here are the system spec.’s which I’ve put together on paper and am about to purchase:
CPU: INTEL P4 1.6a S478
MoBo: ASUS P4S333 SiS 645: P4-S478 3DDR/PC333 5P/4USB 2XATA100 AUDIO AGP4X
RAM: 512 DDR-PC2100 266 MHz
HD: Seagate 40G Barracuda 7200RPM
Case: 18” Tower with ATX-300W Fan
I’ve pretty much eliminated all but three cards to suit my price range <$300CDN:
3D LABS OXYGEN VX1 AGP 32mB SDRAM R3 chipset Open GL1.2
NVidea GF2-ti 64mB DDR or GF3-ti200 64 MB DDR
ATI Radeon 8500 64mB

I’ve been impressed with the rave reviews the R8500 has been pulling in the gaming world. What I’ve been trying to find is performance information on the Radeon8500 under OpenGL geometry conditions. The ATI site literature claims the R8500 is an OpenGL 1.3 card –anybody out there using this card for solid modeling and graphic applications? How’s it running? Do you recommend it? I know the R8700/8800 are ATI’s budget OpenGL workstation accelerators but they are a bit out of my $range today.

I’ve talked to one person running SW2001 using the MSI NVidea GeForce 2-ti 64 mB—he’s happy with the spin/rotation/refresh performance, although he says every once in a while his desktop will disappear, so he’s learned to save frequently. The guy sitting across from him runs an ELSA Gloria III—he says he’s not happy with the card for the price he paid and recommends I go with the NVidea GF2 as well.

On the other hand, I know of an entire engineering office that uses the 32 MB SDRAM 3D Labs Oxygen VX1 for their AutoCAD, SolidWorks, ALIAS and PRO-E stations. The tech guy says for the money it’s the best for stability. I’m leaning this direction personally but am worried about the fact that the card is a 32MB SDRAM.

What do you think about the 32 MB SDRAM Oxygen VX1 versus a 64 MB Nvidea GF2/GF3 or Radeon 8500? Which would you recommend? Where are other good discussions on this topic?

More about : card solid modeling

March 10, 2002 10:39:43 PM

First of all, you look like you're gonna do anything involving math, graphical and rendering. Get that 1.6GHZ off your list now.
You won't get the best performance in rendering. You need an AthlonXP for that, trust me, the benchmarks show it all. I suggest a low cost AXP 1700+, should be significantly faster than the 1.6A and is at an all time low price. Keep the same RAM you were to get.
Now as for video card, the Radeon 8500 is indeed the best bargain, its price and performance is definitly the best right now for bargain. Even as a Ti200 owner, admit the Rad 8500 is the better buy.
However I am not expert at programming graphics, so I am wondering if maybe you'd need a professional 3d Card like a Quadro DCC or a FireGL. But those things cost in the 1000s$. I live in Quebec, so I know prices here and they are not low like US ones. So definitly follow my suggestions, because if not,you would likely end up paying up to 100$ CDN more. Tell me what you think.

For the first time, Hookers are hooked on Phonics!!<P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by Eden on 03/10/02 07:40 PM.</EM></FONT></P>
a b U Graphics card
March 11, 2002 1:43:22 AM

Thanks Eden. I had originally put two systems together on paper: The 1.6 described above and an Athlon XP 1700, like you suggested, with an Asus AMD A7V-266E/KT266A MoBo/chipset. I did some comparisons and, from what I have read, the AMD system performs better in all the benches and will probably smoke the P1.6a . My main concerns, however, are heat generation, software compatibility and stability of performance issues. To be frank, I've never used an AMD workstation before and I don't know anyone who's using one for these types of applications either. I'm a bit hesitant, therefore, to make the big purchase solely based on speed specifications. The tech guys I spoke with have all recommended the Intel as the better 'workstation' system. I guess in the end I opted to play things a bit conservatively. FYI I'm in British Columbia. If I go the R8500 route the pricing for the Intel sys is approx. $1287.00 (inc. tax) and the Athlon about $1326, so the difference is negligible.

I have to admit I'm a bit hesitant on the Oxygen VX1 because it's such an old card (32MB SDRAM to boot) but I know it will do the job--there's the conservative thing again ;)  That's why I put this post up. Honestly, I've just spent the past 5 or so days trying to justify the Radeon 8500 for my system because my logic figures that if the R8500 beats the pants off a GeForce 2-ti in all the benches, and I know for a fact that the GF2 is recommended by some of my peers as an entry level OpenGL board, then the R8500's OpenGL 1.3 should be a solid performer. Unless someone out there can agree or disagree with that I guess the only way I'm going to find out is if I just buy the board. About the Quadro and FireGL boards--I know they're the type I really need to buy, but right now they're out of my price range. I will probably upgrade next year; right now I'm breaking the bank shelling out for a whole new system upgrade.
Related resources
March 11, 2002 5:09:14 AM

Athlon has no software incompatiblties, anything that Intel runs AMD can run. That is a myth that needs to be put to rest.

I've built both Intel and AMD workstations, and Intel isn't worth the price. Both run and work well, but the Athlon's superior fpu cannot be ignored when compared to the P4.
I would look at TI geforce 3.....its cheaper than the 8500, not quite as fast, but is a lot faster than the GF2.

A7V is a good board, not my favorite though. Going with something like the A7N266-c or K7N415 Pro would be a better choice imho......they are faster and I've found more stable usually.........

Both are very stable platforms, but for your type of work you may want to look at getting a dual mp system. This will easily cut your rendering time almost in half.

The Asus A7M-D board is a good board, along with the other MP boards, The 1700+ mp is a good cpu and isn't a bad price, putting in a geforce3 ti200, you have quite a the workstation.......

a b U Graphics card
March 11, 2002 12:11:06 PM


Maya is basically my main reason for using a computer and for me too is imperative to have a good card with rock solid OpenGl implementation.Ive got some experience in this area that hope it can help you with your decision.
In my experience Gforce cards are the best bet,they work FAST and very Stable thanks to their so long time developed drivers,Maya can really be a big pain if the card drivers are not well implemented in the "serious" area of Opengl (no games),its there were i found the problem with the ATI cards... ive got at home two graphic cards,one is a 2 years old Gforce 2 GTS ,recently i bought a second Monitor and decided to try an ATI radeon Dualhead card...My impresions are not very good, i will swapt it for a Gforce 4 as asoon as they are available in UK (by the way,Dualhead is SOOOOO GREAT!).Im using the latest leaked drivers with it(6043),this card really works nice with OpenGL games,BUT it has some problems within maya,not very annoying but annoying anyway...Im pretty sure the ATI 8500 uses similar drivers (if not the same) and so from my experience i would not advise an ATI card if Maya or good "serious" OpenGL is what youre after.Maybe once ATI focuses more in tweaking their drivers for Serous software they would be a good option but quite frankly,if a Gforce 3 and 8500 are so similar in speed and the Gforce has much more matture Opengl drivers i will pick the Gforce without hesitating...

Hope this help.

PD: Dont even bother thinking about a Oxigen Vx1... that card is an old Permedia 3,which sucks comparing to any Gforce 2-3 (i had one loong ago...)
March 11, 2002 2:05:44 PM

Yes, I agree. While the Radeon 8500 is a good gaming card, it was never designed to excel in 3D animation. I'd personally get a GeForce3 Ti200 or Ti500 and use turn it into a Quadro. While there are some ways to turn a Radeon 8500 into a FireGl 8800, this causes some compatibility problems with games.

AMD technology + Intel technology = Intel/AMD Pentathlon IV; the <b>ULTIMATE</b> PC processor
a b U Graphics card
March 11, 2002 2:27:55 PM

I have a GF2-gts and it has been working great for Alias and Maya as well as everything else. There have been a couple times when it has locked up, but thats when the system has been heavily taxed. I will be getting a GF4-Ti 4400 when they are available. My models have been getting more complex and the GF2-GTS 32mb can't quite keep up as well as I'd like, so GF4 is the next upgrade. This has been my experience, so I'm sticking with nVidia. My 2 cents.

Athlon 1200c 512Mb
Creative Geforce2 GTS
March 11, 2002 2:35:59 PM

Have you tried installing the drivers for a Quadro on your GTS? That should significantly boost performance.

AMD technology + Intel technology = Intel/AMD Pentathlon IV; the <b>ULTIMATE</b> PC processor
a b U Graphics card
March 11, 2002 5:48:33 PM

Someone sent me this link which supports the GeForce3 consensus in this post: The benches basically confirm the GF3 as a solid OpenGL entry level performer.

AMD Man: this link talks a bit about the 8500 and 8800 board similarities… I’d like to find out more about modifying the 8500 to FireGL—know where I can find talk about that?

I guess for GF3 the question is which brand to choose. Of these, which would you guys recommend?:
ASUS V8200T2 Pure GeForce 3
MSI G3 Ti200
Leadtek GF3 ti200
March 11, 2002 7:40:14 PM

Well I have the Asus one and I'd say it's nice!
There's no difference if you plan on using the Nvidia drivers instead of Asus' or the supplied brand ones. The Asus Deluxe edition gives you tons more for video editing software and TV OUTs as well as Video IN. It also comes with 3 games, and 3d Glasses.

For the first time, Hookers are hooked on Phonics!!
March 13, 2002 9:48:41 AM

I'm in the situation. I'm also looking for new graphics card for high-end graphics development. Such as applications like Maya 4 and 3ds max 4 for 3d development, but also for games like the unreal series. This is because I'm making graphics and models for use in games.

in my research, I find it useful to check out the graphic card requirement and tested card list that are available on the aliaswavefront (maya) and discreet (3DS Max) sites

in the maya site Getforce 2 & 3 card are listed as UNQUALIFIED cards for use with Maya 4 software

and the only card they have tested on and suggests are all the workstation card such as the Fire GL series, Quadro series and the Wlldcat cards.

However are these so card workstation cards worth the price..? especially since that they all sot of seem to be in the OLD cards category. IF u compare the specs a Quadro DCC card seem to much slower than a Getforce 4 Ti card

so what is the deal..?

March 13, 2002 7:58:46 PM

That's cuz there's a Quadro 4 out, using the GF4 Ti series chip, but is of course extremly powerful at OpenGL and would likely be your best bet for those programs. Otherwise FireGL 8800 sounds ok.

For the first time, Hookers are hooked on Phonics!!
March 13, 2002 9:02:30 PM

GF can be converted to Quadro, and it'll work. For 3d s max, quadro is the way to go, b/c teh maxtreme drivers which give better image quality and performance. Maya will run on GF cards, actually, but I know it has probs w/ ati gaming cards. The Quadro 4 series of cards really are giants, and they beat the wildcat. They also have hardware lines.

Sig of the week.
March 13, 2002 9:45:56 PM

How does the quadro do when it is used to play games like unreal series or other games. I'm doing some developement work in the unreal engine i need to be able to make models in 3ds max, then turn on the unreal editor to import the new models and update the map, and go right into firing up the UT tournament and test out the new level.

So if I'm to shell out for a Quadro 4 i'm hoping that it can handel the games too... by the way i can't seem to find any Quadro 4 card listed on

March 13, 2002 10:18:42 PM

they haven't rly started to ship em yet I don't think. The quadro 4 is basically an OpenGL optimized GF4. It'll handle games just as well (although in D3D performance will be slightly less). I have a Quadro DCC and it runs games very well.

Sig of the week.
March 15, 2002 1:27:37 AM

i just got this bit for a review of the Elsa Gloria 4 (quadro 4) card...

Price and Availability
The Gloria4 XGL family of products will be available in April 2002 from ELSA Authorized Dealers for Suggested Retail Prices at SGD$4,599.00 (GLoria4 900XGL) and SGD$2,599.00 (GLoria4 750XGL)

full article:

CHrist!!1 can anyone afford that..?
for that price i can go get a few computer computers..!

March 15, 2002 1:33:10 AM

lol, damn, that's expensive. Just buy a Ti4600 and I'll show ya how to make it Quadro 4. hehe, damn that's expensive. dare me to buy one?

Sig of the week.
March 15, 2002 1:39:50 AM

So how easy is it to make them such cards and why hasn't it been a trend recently? Are there side-effects?

For the first time, Hookers are hooked on Phonics!!
March 15, 2002 5:39:15 PM

It's reallky not that hard, but the side effect for a harware mod is that it vois your warranty.

Sig of the week.