Graphic Cards: Workstation vs. Gaming

By cyrusroe · 7 replies
Mar 12, 2005
  1. Whats the difference between "workstation" and "gaming" graphics cards?

    Even though I don't know much about coding and instructions, is that the main difference? Do workstation graphics cards handle programs such as maya and 3dsMax better because of the way they are built to process code and instructions? And do gaming cards handle games like Half-Life2 and UT2k4 because they are built/coded in such a way to perform better for those applications?

    Please go into depth to explain and try to give analogies if at all possible.

    I happen to be an Animation/GraphicDesign student so I don't wanna waste my money on a graphics card that's meant to be used for something else.

    And even though this is the video/audio thread, would you suggest Intel or AMD to combo with the according graphics card? So far from what I've read, it seems like Intel is the way to go.

    Thanks in advance for your input !
  2. shadow_29

    shadow_29 TS Rookie Posts: 211

    so a comparison between mainstream graphic cards and workstation only cards.let see,graphic cards nowadays are focused on only being clocked higher to give higher fps scores in demanding games,they are designed ground up focusing on direct3d applications like 90% of the games.however workstation graphic cards are clocked slower for stability reason and focus heavily on opengl applications.some of them are optimized and carry special plugins for 3dsmax and the mainstream texturing or prgrammatic vertex or fragment shading would be considered high ends in workstations however AA lines and points, overlay plane support, two-sided lighting (fixed function path), logic operations, fast pixel read-back speeds, and dual 10-bit 400MHz RAMDACs and 2 dual-link DVI-I connectors supporting 3840x2400 on a single display are high end.needless to say they are for cad designing for programs like proengineer/autocad and not to mention animation programs like 3dsmax and maya.

    now there have always been softmod that you could do on a mainstream graphic card that can make it a workstation one like a geforce to quadro and a radeon 9800 to a firexl through freefirexl but you wouldnt see the perfromance increase and would be bugged continously by its drivers.these workstation cards offer features like occulsion culling,lossless depth z-buffer,line anti-alaising,accelarated clip region,clip planes.two sided lighting,opengl logic and overlay planes.a quadro for example can achieve 80 million lit and textured triangles per second fillrate.they also carry third generation vertex and pixel is a qute from the manufacturers"Alias|Wavefront, Discreet, Softimage, and more. End users can take full advantage of the programmable NVIDIA Quadro FX architecture by enabling sophisticated real-time shaders to simulate a virtually unlimited range of physica l characteristics, such as lighting effects (fresnel effects, chromatic dispersion, reflection, refraction, BRDF models*, etc.) and even physical surface properties (such as casting effects, porosity, molded surfaces, etc.).

    For example, car models can be modified on-the-fly to change their clear coat and metallic reflective paint properties; the sheen of a character`s skin can be adjusted through a dynamic range from oily to dry by interactively adjusting a few sliders; or objects can be programmed to dynamically self shadow. Real-time shaders allow these effects to be combined and modified interactively-impossible with simple 2D static texture maps."
    there is also the issue of subpixel precision-"Sophisticated real-time effects typically involve multiple mathematical operations that demand high precision to maintain image quality. The NVIDIA Quadro® FX features 128-bit IEEE floating-point precision, making available millions of colors in a broad dynamic range. This results in the highest level of accuracy and the ultimate in visual quality.
    High subpixel precision is another major contributor to image quality, addressing visual anomalies that cause models to "sparkle" or "crack." The NVIDIA Quadro FX virtually eliminates this problem by providing 12 bits of sub-pixel precision¡Xfour times higher precision than the nearest competitive product.

    Precision continues to be a critical factor when rendering high quality antialiased images-for both line and full-scene antialiasing (FSAA). The NVIDIA Quadro FX architecture accelerates antialiased points and lines in hardware, and supports up to 16X FSAA. And unlike other competitive hardware, NVIDIA Quadro FX products drive FSAA up to a phenomenal 3840x2400 resolution"
    besides these feature they carry the same old 8 pixel pipe line and are'nt clocked high compared to there counterpart mainstream i guess the mainstream cards and the workstation cards would run maya and 3ds max at pretty much the same speed but if you wan to make use of the above listed features your going to have to spend that extra amount on a workstation only card.

    what must concern you the most is the premium that these cards carry easily priced over 1000$ as opposed to 450$ highend in you want to justify there prices,well workstation graphic cards have other features as well like overlay plane support which is crucial in maya and 3ds max otherwise you'll see a definite performance hit.earlier you could softmod a gf4 card to a quadro but today they are two different chips.ati has fire gl/xl line up while nvidia has quadro fx line for graphic card,latter offering feature like sli for workstatio grahic cards.however the bottom line is buy a workstaion card only if you want the workstation class features,if you are expecting a huge increase in performance if you were using a 150$mainstream nvidia geforce6600 gt to a 1000$ quadro fx or ati fire gl than forget it,you wouldnt see it both the cards will be able to run most of the applications but the latter are designed for those application ,yes they do carry huge premium over the other but that's what you get.they have added features and support for your field of can get a sub 500$ workstaion graphic card today from nvidia or ati(there are other manufacturers too like creative,3dlabs).i would suggest you to consider the workstation graphic cards becasue you dont want to be held back just beacuse of mainstream appoach,get a quadro or fire but with a lot of video ram more than 128 if possible and a lot of ram for the system.3ds max and maya make use of hardware rendering optomized for the workstation cards,while there minimum requirement is any card with atleast 64mb ram that supports direct 3d and opengl,a 256 mb card is preferred.

    so hope this proves helpful,post back if you have any other questions.
  3. shadow_29

    shadow_29 TS Rookie Posts: 211

    oh about workstation graphic cads running games.....well ut2k4 is based on direct 3d and opengl so it should run smoothly on a workstation graphic card and hl2 uses different directx version depending on the card so it should work just dont excpect mind blazing performance.
  4. znet

    znet TS Rookie

    Unlike the original post, I only had the choice of a Fire GL v5200 (256MB) or an X1400 (128MB+hyper) BUT I want the GPU for purely gaming purposes and would like the card (out of the two mentioned above) to be able handle nice graphics and last for at least a year, technolgoy wise. Will the Fire GL v5200 play older and newer games well????? It seems to be direct 9 compatible.
    thx for the help.

  5. DonNagual

    DonNagual TechSpot Ambassador Posts: 2,406

    Znet, it is best to start your own thread if your question changes the topic of the original post.

    But to answer your question, no. A 5200 will not play newer games very well at all, even though it is direct 9 compatible. It just doesn't have the bandwidth necessary.
  6. CrossFire851

    CrossFire851 TS Rookie Posts: 766

    It will play BF2 with about 20 fps. Wich would be scarry sorry mate, but I will be honest with you It would look and even play horribly.

    If you can't afford a desent card ($120+) get into console gamming.
  7. znet

    znet TS Rookie

    Thanks for the feedback. I actually did start a new thread after posting here, but since you two have been the only ones to respond, allow me to ask one more quick question:

    As compared to the Radeon X1400 (128mb), will the fire gl v5200 (256mb) run better than that?? Also these are mobility gpu s.

    Thx again.

  8. pjbang

    pjbang TS Rookie

    sorry to resurrect an old thread but...

    what is the difference between workstation and gaming cards, and what's the detectable features from looking at the card spec
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