1. #1
    Fluffy Kitten llDemonll's Avatar
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    Which GPU for Gaming / CAD Desktop

    Building a computer for my brother (Industrial Design student) who will be using it for gaming and CAD work (3-D work, not easy 2-D drawings) and wondering if the GPU matters what I go with. The three/four I'm looking at are the 6950, 6970, GTX 570, and GTX 560 Ti.

    What I'm wondering is which card will perform better in a CAD environment. I know the nVidia cards have CUDA cores on them but I don't know how well they actually perform compared to the AMD cards. I'm not worried about the gaming performance of these cards, I know they will all be suitable for his needs, but the CAD stuff is where I'm lost.

    Does it matter which one I get, or will they mostly all perform about the same in comparison to each other?

    How big of a difference will there be between a CAD (FirePro / Quadro) card and the cards I listed in CAD work?

    An example of his work - he's not doing assemblies or anything like that as far as I know so it doesn't have to be a card that would render a fully-functioning 787

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  2. #2
    The Patient Nivius's Avatar
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    i recommend buying 2 abit cheaper cards for crossfire/SLI i did, got 2x5850 once they ware new (i'm studying game development)



    GPUs are quite simple, then it come to rendering like you consider... thats more CPU/RAM dependent, but if you are worried if the power isn't enough or so, go crossfire/SLI, its a 100% safe bet!
    Last edited by Nivius; 2011-08-25 at 08:35 PM.

  3. #3
    CUDA acceleration will do something, but for small projects there probably isn't gonna be much difference. What you should be looking at is OpenGL performance difference between the cards and pick based on that. Should be easy enough to find OpenGL benchmarks with the FirePro/Quadro cards along with mainstream gaming cards. The professional cards will suck big time on gaming because they're gimped on purpose so those arent really recommended for gaming/3d dabbling use even if the price is not an issue.
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  4. #4
    The problem is that consumer gaming cards are meant for gaming. Now you can use them for casual CAD work and the like, but it's like using a Quadro for gaming, hope the game is old. Quadro cards as an example, have features that consumer gaming cards do not, or the gaming counterpart is severely limited intentionally.

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  5. #5
    The Lightbringer Asera's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vesseblah View Post
    CUDA acceleration will do something, but for small projects there probably isn't gonna be much difference. What you should be looking at is OpenGL performance difference between the cards and pick based on that. Should be easy enough to find OpenGL benchmarks with the FirePro/Quadro cards along with mainstream gaming cards. The professional cards will suck big time on gaming because they're gimped on purpose so those arent really recommended for gaming/3d dabbling use even if the price is not an issue.
    AutoCAD (good chance this is what they will be using) actually renders through Direct3D. Much like Maya and 3DSMax do now.

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    CAD software, from my experience, is generally very efficient and not very demanding. I'm pretty sure we're running AutoCAD at work on an old Pentium 4 still.

    AutoCAD 2011 on the other hand uses OGL rendering, and coincidentally, there is a CUDA performance driver for it here:
    http://www.nvidia.com/object/AutoCAD-2011.html
    Problem with it is, it only works on Quadro GPU's.
    Last edited by Asera; 2011-08-25 at 08:41 PM.
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  6. #6
    Fluffy Kitten llDemonll's Avatar
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    Yea, dedicated CAD card is out of the question. What I'm mainly asking is if there will be a difference between AMD and nVidia gaming cards in a CAD environment, or if they will be indifferent (within 10% of each other defines indifferent for me here)

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  7. #7
    For 2D work there will be little difference(supposedly). 3D work on the otherhand.... Plus you have to see if the software will even support said Card. AutoCAD 2012 seemingly doesn't support any non Quadro nvidia card being the 280 line.

    http://usa.autodesk.com/adsk/servlet...12&id=16391880

    The main thing is drivers. The cards are very similar, but drivers are not. For Professional things you need accuracy in your work, gaming drivers might forfeit some of that for performance.
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  8. #8

  9. #9
    This might be a stupid question, but how do gaming cards drop accuracy for performance?

    And more importantly, will any of the various cards actually offer meaningful differences in speed? Even a 200% speed increase is about completely meaningless if it's already doing the job so fast I can't get up and make a sandwich.

  10. #10
    Not the card itself, but the drivers, because the cards are almost exactly the same, nvidia just uses the BIOS and such to prevent one being used for the other and such.

    "The algorithms on a CAD-oriented card tend rather to complete all rendering operations, even if that introduces delays or variations in the timing, prioritising accuracy and rendering quality over speed."

    Taken from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nvidia_Quadro
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  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Drunkenvalley View Post
    This might be a stupid question, but how do gaming cards drop accuracy for performance?
    The gaming cards don't have error correction technologies, since small errors are irrelevant to the gaming experience.
    The professional cards can't afford this, since they are used for sophisticated calculations and a single error might ruin the whole thing.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by haxartus View Post
    The gaming cards don't have error correction technologies, since small errors are irrelevant to the gaming experience.
    The professional cards can't afford this, since they are used for sophisticated calculations and a single error might ruin the whole thing.
    On that note, some of the higher end cards even use ECC on the on board RAM.
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  13. #13
    If he intends to use the card for any kind of hardware raytracing, go nVidia. OpenCL support is pretty much non-existent among rendering engines, while CUDA is available for pretty much every major application. Bear in mind here that OpenGL / D3D isn't used for raytracing, it's generally only accurate enough for your viewports
    All of the cards you listed should be powerful enough for just about any real-time compositing, but really, having the option to use something like Furryball is worth it. If you're hitting any kind of viewport rendering limits with any of the cards you listed, you're probably doing something really wrong.
    I learned the hard way, go nVidia for shiny raytracing. ATI's currently just about worthless in this field.
    Last edited by Aley; 2011-08-25 at 10:13 PM.

  14. #14
    Fluffy Kitten llDemonll's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aley View Post
    ...
    That's what I was thinking. All of our engineering computers where I work are Quadro cards, and having the CUDA cores and such just makes it seem like nVidia would be more compatible with CAD applications. As much as I liked AMD, nVidia definitely seems like the way to go here

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