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Workstation graphic cards vs. consumer cards

By smorga22
Jul 20, 2011
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  1. I am going into my fourth year of architecture school and I am building a desktop. I plan on using my system for Adobe cs5, CAD, Revit, 3ds max, Maya, Ecotect, Virtual Enviroment, Rhino, and Grasshopper. I am having trouble deciding on a graphics card. Is it necessary to have a workstation graphic card to do 3d modeling with these programs? If so, what type of card would you reccomend, Nvidia or ATI?

    List of requirements given by the school:
    Intel® Core™ i7
    12 GB+ Memory
    2TB Hard Drive
    Dual 20"+ monitors
    DVD±RW Drive
    Dedicated ATI or nVidia video adapter with at least 1-2GB memory
    Wireless Network Adapter
    Windows 7 ® Home Premium (64-bit)
     
  2. rockyjohns

    rockyjohns TS Rookie Posts: 80

    The last question is the easiest - I would go with nVidia because their CUDA processing engine accelerates many of the applications you use. I know Adobe CS5 and Maya take advantage of it but don't know about the rest of the applications you listed.

    Adobe CS5 added acceleration for multiple applications with the Mercury Playback Engine which is designed specifically for more recent nVidia cards with the CUDA feature set.

    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/adobe-cs5-cuda-64-bit,2770.html

    Third party review and recommendations for use with CS5 (the card list starts about half way down the page)

    http://www.studio1productions.com/Articles/PremiereCS5.htm

    CUDA (see more info below about CUDA) supported graphics cards (note that the GeForce or mainstream and gamer cards (for desktop and laptop PCs) are listed near the bottom of the page:

    http://developer.nvidia.com/cuda-gpus

    nVidia provides information touting how much their cards accelerate Adobe CS5, including general description about CUDA with internal links to more info for advanced users:a

    http://www.nvidia.com/object/cuda_home_new.html

    Here are a couple of reviews on workstation cards you might find informative:

    Workstation Shootout: Nvidia Quadro 5000 Vs. ATI FirePro V8800
    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/quadro-5000-firepro-v8800-workstation-graphics,2701.html

    AMD FirePro V9800 4 GB: Eyefinity Meets Professional Graphics
    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/firepro-v9800-eyefinity-quadro-5000,2780.html

    The choice between workstation vs. gaming cards is a little more difficult. The higher end gaming cards are very similar to the lower end gaming cards, the difference is primarily in the drivers and service. Workstation drivers have been more finely tuned to the kinds of work done in WS applications - but this can have a signficant impact on performance for those applications. Morever, with the higher price you pay buys you better, generlly quicker support for dealing with issues.

    I think the choice must depend on how and how much you use the cards. If you use the applications for several hours a day, the higher productivity of the workstation station cards may pay for the higher cost several times over. Otherwise you might do just as well with the gaming cards.

    If you decide to go with gaming cards, you might find some helpful information on upgrading video cards at upgradevideocards.com, but they have no information on workstation cards:

    http://www.upgradevideocards.com/index.html
     

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