Quadro.vs.GeForce for CAD/Rendering system. Component advice & discussion appreciated

Discussion in 'Video Cards & Monitors' started by enzo_450, Jun 18, 2009.

  1. enzo_450

    enzo_450 Member

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    Posted almost verbatim (by me) on the PCPP forums; I'm trying to get to the bottom of designing a relatively budget (<$2.5-3k) professional computer setup for 2D and 3D CAD projects and rendering. My girlfriend will be getting into the industry in the near future and I'd like to be knowledgeable enough to build the most effective machine possible.

    Programs to be used will predominantly be Autodesk 3D Studio Max and Revit (to be confirmed 100%, though 85% certain of this).

    I realise this is the Video related sub-forum, that is the main point of interest. CPU/HDD details/comparisons have been included for backgrounds sake, and because any thread/article I've come upon in my searching only ever comments about one aspect of the build. Discussion/advice regarding those components is certainly still welcome.

    Useful Links
    Similar thread on [H]ardForum. GTX260 + WD Black + 12GB + i7 win out.
    Sub-forum on [H]ardForum for Multiprocessing Systems

    3DSpeedMachine (seems like a VERY new forum :()
    Graphics Cards
    I've read contrasting bits and pieces, some people say get low end quadros (the FX570 is $300, next one up FX1700 is $800) because they're made for it, well, made for programs which utilise them anyway.

    Whereas some people say you're better off getting a gaming card because the Quadro cards currently available are starting to show their age, and you can pick up a gaming card with a lot more memory.

    I built a work PC for a workmate last year and he opted for the GTX260 over the quadro twice the price based upon the amount of memory they had. (He does 2D and 3D work using SolidEdge or Inventor).

    Example:
    1GB 4870 - $279
    1GB GTS250 - $190
    2GB GTX285 - $530
    vs
    256MB FX570 - $280
    512MB FX1700 - $820
    512MB FX3700 - $1550

    Updates:

    Now, props for the GTX285 - supports CUDA ("What is CUDA?") and 64-bit double precision floating point numbers.

    Softmod GeForce cards to Quadro!!!
    To me, sounds like the best solution. More memory of a GTS250 or GTX285.

    CPU
    What's most effective for 3DSMax and Revit? I'm not sure how Cinebench compares to the rendering process of those....but Cinebench offers comparable results at least. I'll just pull review, easier. Discussion afterwards I guess. I don't see why an i7 would chomp most things?
    Interpretations? Other than the i7 chips carve it up, to be expected though I guess, newest tech.

    Benchmarks etc
    Q6600 vs i7 3DSMax - In summary, the i7 takes half the time of the Q6600. (mine's showing its ages :( lol) Using a scene from 3DSpeedMachine .... :O
    i7 Performance Review - Summary, i7 wins. This contains a 3DSMax test too. Interesting to see they use 4870 for the graphics card.

    Hard Drives

    OS Drive Competitors
    640GB WD Caviar Black - $100 (only $200 for a raid0 setup ;))
    74GB WD VelociRaptor 10krpm (SATA)- $204
    150GB WD VelociRaptor (SATA2) - $235
    300GB WD VelociRaptor (SATA2) - $340
    64GB GSkill SSD - $250
    30GB OCZ Vertex Series 2 SSD - $155
    60GB OCZ Vertex Series 2 SSD - $250
    60GB OCZ Apex Series SSD - $300
    120GB OCZ Apex Series SSD - $450

    Storage Drives
    640GB WD Blue/Black - $90/100
    1TB WD Blue - $125
    1TB Seagate - $125


    ----------------------------------------

    Comments/Discussion?

    I will keep a system build list in here for the sake of it.

    At the moment then (Umart/MSY):
    i7 920 + TRUE ($390 + $100)
    GB EX58-UD4P ($335)
    12GB Corsair TR3X DDR3 ($400)
    2GB GTX285 ($530)
    1 x 640GB WD Black ($100)
    2 x 1TB WD ($250)
    Pioneer DVD ($35)
    Antec 900 (from me)
    Corsair HX-620 (from me)
    Total - $2140 (cheating with case/psu)


    Single 640GB, if she wants to stretch the budget this will be the first thing to get scrutinised I think. Monitors will either be 2x24" Viewsonics ($310 each), or a single Dell 24" Ultrasharp ($900-1000) (add another later maybe I guess, once she's setup). GTX285 will depend on budget too, could get knocked down to a 250/260/275.

    I'm hoping someone reads this and goes and finds (or knows of) a comparison between gaming cards in rendering applications :p

    Please, discuss :thumbup:
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2009
  2. Aetherone

    Aetherone Member

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    NVIDIA has made quadro's avaliable with large memory volumes for a lot longer than their desktop equlivalents (ie: the FX5800 with 4GB of framebuffer). In my experience, the dollars spent on a Quadro are only really worth it if you need that Quadro RIGHT NOW for production purposes.

    Given your limited budget, I'd suspect the equivalent price desktop card will be as fast or faster than the Quadro, especially since the new cards all support CUDA. Although some specific applications may have optimisations in the Quadro drivers that gives them an advantage.

    As for other choices, there's one suggestion that makes a whole lot more difference: SSD
    Any kind of HDD bottleneck will make you love any decent SSD. IMHO the Indilinx Barefoot based drives are very good on the price/performance ratio, esp compared to Corsair/Intel/Kingston offerings.
     
  3. OP
    OP
    enzo_450

    enzo_450 Member

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    Thanks for that :thumbup:

    I'll be off to suss out the Barefoot based drives then :). Seems like these're (SSD) the upgrade to get at the moment.
     
  4. grazhopa

    grazhopa Member

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    yeah, if you can, get a small fast hdd to hold current working files. nothing frustrates me when working on big files and they (seem to) chug due to slow access or if you are jammed working over a network by some knobwit it guy who insists that you need the same specs as the admin girl who does nothing but email and play solitaire...

    its been a while since i had to get a gpu for a workstation but seriously, how far wrong can you go with a gtx285?

    in all seriousness tho - the specs needed depend on the software A LOT.

    ie surpac would need bulk grunt due to the retarded way it would deal with files
    vulcan would need decent grunt purely because the program is goddamn beasty
    minescape - seems to run on a pocket calculator - but its a piece of crap

    etc etc

    i've never used revit or 3d studio and the last autodesk product i used was civil 3d 08 but if you make sure you well and truly eclipse the reccommended specs you should have one happy camper...
     
  5. OP
    OP
    enzo_450

    enzo_450 Member

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    Thanks a lot, I'll be keeping an eye on SSD prices in the coming months I guess. It's a bugger the prices haven't fallen as quickly as most expected (I don't think anyway).

    That, and yeh, waiting for clarification on what the software wants to hog, will make things a lot easier. Find out soon enough.
     
  6. Munki

    Munki Member

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    I built my budget PC last year (specs in sig) for work with Maya and while it isn't professional grade, the rendering times were a lot quicker than what the uni computers (usyd) had to offer.

    I think going with a gaming card would be the go, as the i7 will do a lot of the heavy lifting when rendering. I was definitely very thankful for the quadcore in my rig.
     
  7. srey

    srey Member

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    Generally the graphics card will play bugger all of a part when it comes to processing renderings, it's a CPU heavy task. I haven't done much CAD work in a while, but I was quite happy with my Q6600/EP35/8800GTS setup for Rhino/Vray/Solidworks. I'm sure that a quadro card would offer much better live performance (especially in SW I'd hope) but there was no way I could ever justify the cost of one, new at least.

    Edit: don't discount the monitor in your system either, especially if printing images is going to be a part of her workflow. My girlfriend has a similar machine to mine but the cheapie ASUS 22", whilst great for normal working, has caused huge problems when trying to prep images for print. I found my 226BW was *okay* after it was calibrated, but still left a little to be desired. I'm currently considering ponying up for an 8bit monitor, probably the Dell 22" IPS, and a calibrator to try and improve the situation.
     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2009
  8. proffesso

    proffesso Member

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    ok, time to clarify a few things.

    the only thing that seperates a quadro and a geforce are drivers. (and ram amounts)

    now, pro 3d apps run pretty old 3d engines. they rely on opengl 1.2 , except Max, which runs better on D3D hardware now (used to be software, OGL and Heidi back in the NT days)

    things like ZBrush run thier own API, Mudbox uses Opengl2.0 i believe, but any card in the last few years is 2.0 happy. there are no 3.0 apps yet, so dont worry about that.

    Quadro drivers have profiles for each individual 3d app, be it inventer, rhino, max, xsi, maya etc. all are slightly different. there is no silver bullet.

    also, 3d apps use some more obscure opengl calls, so the drivers are tweaked for precision rather than speed, so unless your app is known to have some funky opengl requirements, it will probably run quicker on a gaming card.

    and the biggest reason why quadro's are popular, and worthy of the price....certification.

    companies dont have time to troubleshoot hardware, so hardware that is garunteed by the software maker is worth its weight in gold.

    now, for home use...i would recommend NOT to buy a quadro. you just dont need that sort of stability for home use. if the machine is being used for paid jobs, then this wouldnt even be a discussion. you would go with the certified hardware, better yet, it would be an actual workstation with buisness day warrenty.

    I run a FX3700 at work, and its solid as a rock.

    however for a home build, i'd be looking at a 260+ OC, it appears to be quicker at raw opengl (remember, no pixel shaders here, no cuda) than the 285

    also, dual gpu cards and sli setups are next to useless. you *might* get a small benefit, but as of yet I havent heard of anyone in production using it. so far using sli has been the domain of large scale displays.

    now onto memory.

    yes, highend quadro's have tons of memory, but this is because they are designed to run upto 32 (or 64) x AA, onto displays that are 3840x2400 (4k)

    also in the past, ram has been high due to people viewing textures in the viewports...this is pretty much a pointless exercise now, as only a select few actually run a scene with all thier textures on, and set to max display size...a 4k texture is 64mb...your likely to only display a couple of those at most during actual scene interaction.

    for a 1920x1080 display, 512mb will be the same as 2048mb for the most part. unless you want to run high aa as well, but then you destroy all the performance.

    CPU -

    home machine - dont bother with dual socket workstations, again, a 10k machine is worth it if it pays for itself.

    SSD is always a good option for a boot drive, 3d / video is all about sequential reads and writes though, so raiding a few mechanical drives will give you the same performance but a lot more space.

    a single 30gb ssd for a boot drive is plenty for windows and a decent array of apps.

    monitor - I cant stress enough to get a IPS display...20 - 24" quality rather than quantity here.


    problem is, im trying to be as informative as possible, but without knowing if this machine will be used for production or just mucking about at home, really changes perspectives.

    just remember - if this machine will make you money, make sure its solid as a rock.

    I use a macbook pro at home, with a ati card in it, and I get some odd display bugs and crashes every now and then. i DO lose time and work, luckily my freelance gigs are games models, and 4 weeks+ each, so I have a little time to make up the time. im quite lucky because of the timelines, I can arse around a bit...but its still painful as hell to lose work. next machine will be a proper workstation as I'd rather spend my time productivly than tearing my hair out anymore than I do :)
     
  9. Annihilator69

    Annihilator69 Member

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    Not to highjack the thread, but I have two computers at work who require the use of Solidworks 08 & Autocad 09, and Autocad electrical.

    One PC has a Quadro FX1700 and the other has a 9500GT.
    I'm trying to figure out if I'd get more performance/If its worth getting a 250/260+ or something. I guess I could do the softmod to make them into a Quadro?

    Is there a way to figure out what % is CPU based and what % is GPU based?
     
  10. proffesso

    proffesso Member

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    again, if its for a work machine, do NOT get geforces, or softmod etc. get certified hardware.

    if you get problems, autodesk wont talk to you unless your running certified hardware.

    work machines make money when they are productive, cutting corners on these things is dangerous at best.
     
  11. Aetherone

    Aetherone Member

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    Agreed.
    With one small caveat: nvidia desktop is still miles ahead of ATI desktop thanks to drivers that aren't entirely crap.
     
  12. Phido

    Phido Member

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    Dual GPU is only worthy for multi montior setups
    IE 2 26-32" displays each being driven by one video card. Or someone running an array of hidef projectors.

    I would be looking for what ever gets through the geometry fastest so you can quickly look for artifacts and junk.

    I would go big high quality screens. 24" 8 bit, pref larger 26 or 30+". Nice mouse with some programmable buttons for shortcuts.

    If your working with animation concider a renderfarm. Its nice when you are rendering a scene or large individual render(s) and your main machine is still useable. A quad with some ram would be useful.
     
  13. proffesso

    proffesso Member

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    if you look at the budget, I dont think a 30" and a renderfarm is really on the cards just yet, do you?

    8bit means nothing if its a crap screen. IPS or nothing. PVA/TN are usless
     
  14. srey

    srey Member

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    Got any opinion on the cheap Dell 22" IPS?
    I've heard good things in passing, but haven't seen any definitive reviews, and sadly its about all the budget could stretch to at the moment.
     
  15. millsy_c

    millsy_c Member

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    Okay, assuming you're well aware of the fact that rendering is creating the final image and that's the cpu heavy part, here's my take on it.
    Get a quadro. Softmodding works well in 3d studio max, that's 100% true, but any open GL app WILL NOT benefit from it.
    IIRC solidworks and 3dsmax are Direct3D, and a quadro is not quite as necessary, but the drivers are better so less chance of a crash occuring.
    And now, a benchmark I did a while back :)
    The system was either a E6300 @ 2.33 or a Q6600 @ 3.2, can't remember, pretty sure it was the Q6600 though. Benchmark was specviewperf 10 64bit on Windows XP Professional 64bit.

    8800gtx (non softmod, it only increased 3ds really, made sweet FA difference overall) (sorry, the spaces aren't coming out right :tired:):

    Test # Weight () Frames/sec
    1 9.00 14.10
    2 9.00 3.31
    3 9.00 7.92
    4 10.00 11.00
    5 9.00 7.49
    6 9.00 21.10
    7 9.00 10.40
    8 9.00 5.91
    9 9.00 7.20
    10 9.00 2.50
    11 9.00 10.70
    Weighted Geometric Mean = 7.94

    FX 570 (8400gs)
    Test # Weight () Frames/sec
    1 9.00 45.40
    2 9.00 37.80
    3 9.00 27.00
    4 10.00 36.00
    5 9.00 24.60
    6 9.00 50.10
    7 9.00 30.00
    8 9.00 19.40
    9 9.00 21.00
    10 9.00 21.20
    11 9.00 28.90
    Weighted Geometric Mean = 29.68

    I think the numbers speak for themselves. With a 3dmark 06 score of 2319 and only a third of the graphics memory I was extremely surprised at the difference in performance, just watching the benchmark it went from a powerpoint to being fluid. Literally the difference between the two in cad performance was as dramatic as their difference in 3d mark 06 performance (gtx was about 5.5x as fast or 13k 3d marks vs 2.56k 3d marks).
    I was using CATIA v5r18 x64 at the time as well and it felt a LOT smoother.
    Really, if you want to do this properly, get the FX570 or save up and get some other quadro card.
    I thought the FireGL's were doing quite well at the moment as well? Don't see them up for sale in the standard Umart, MSY though so can't comment on that sorry, but nvidia aren't the only ones making 'professional' cards. Keep an eye in the FS section as well, sometimes quadro's pop up and the softmod brigade rolls through and a 570 sells for like 50 or less :lol:
    Hope this helps :)
     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2009
  16. millsy_c

    millsy_c Member

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    PVA i'm not sure about, but S-PVA is NOT useless. From wikipedia
    IIRC some of the dell ultrasharp series use S-PVA panels.
     
  17. proffesso

    proffesso Member

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    highend S-PVA is good, but IPS is still king

    got Eizo and Nec at work, the NEC is S-IPS, and hands down the best screen ive ever used.
     
  18. don256us

    don256us Member

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    I replaced a blown video card for a guy last year who did a lot of CAD stuff for his living. I researched high and low to get him a true Open GL card. In the end, he wanted me to get a consumer grade card because he thought that there were boot-leg drivers to unlock the full Open GL potential.

    At that time, I had found that drivers for consumer cards artificially slow processing for Open GL. The reasoning that I found was that only true Open GL cards were certified and therefore guaranteed while consumer cards were not. Manufactures want you to buy the full card.

    I don't know much about Open GL so I'm mostly repeating what I learned.
     
  19. millsy_c

    millsy_c Member

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    Can't argue as I don't have anything to compare with. Bit out of range for the op though :tongue:
     
  20. proffesso

    proffesso Member

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    22" IPS should be around the same price as a 24" dell im guessing,
     

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