desktop pc recommendation?

I was thinking to get a new pc, mostly it’ll be used for CAD, rendering (gpu base) and other 2d graphic works.
I’ve look at dell desktop xps studio 9100 but looking at the graphic card GT200, i dont think it will hang on GPU rendering for long and workstation pricetag is not an option for me. Im not really a hardware guy, so maybe you can help me with other recommendation or suggestion? or maybe custom specs? maybe your own desktop set specs? thanks in advance!

You might be able to find a re-manufactured workstation on somewhere like newegg or tiger direct?

I’ve gotten some good hardware deals there. Workstation video cards, too.

Whats your budget and what GPU based software are you running? Showcase? Shot?

Budget is really the biggest deciding factor. My home desktop runs showcase rather well and that’s all on an i7 with a GTX 460 video card.

Sorry, do you mean that a high pricetag is not an option, or that price is not a factor?

In general rendering depends mostly on the CPU, while the GPU handles the real-time rendering (working on the cad model). It really depends on what kind of 3d models you work with, but unless you do very very advanced and high resolution models (think an starship enterprise replica or a scene from a pixar animated film), any new computer with a decent processor, graphics card and enough ram should do fairly well.

Apparently I was misinformed about what part handles what in today’s renderers, sorry for that.

There are several GPU based renderers currently out there, namely Bunkspeed Shot and Autodesk Showcase. Both of those require a lot of GPU horsepower to get good performance.

If you are using Shot Bunkspeed has a list of tested consumer cards:

Anything from the GTX460-480 should work well. Since it’s a desktop, you could always purchase a machine with a lower spec graphics card and then possibly upgrade the video card later if you need. The GTX460 can be had for around $160USD and the 480 for around $320, though I’m not sure about pricing in Asia.

If you are going to be doing some heavy CAD work you need to look at Dell’s Precision or HP’s Z lines of workstations. The main thing to consider is a professional graphics card, i.e. NVIDIA Quadro or ATI FirePro, you’ll save yourself a lot of grief. Don’t be fooled by the fancy packaging and marketing of gaming cards, it means crap when it comes to 3d CAD.

These days workstation graphics cards do more than just render, in SolidWorks for example, the 3d geometry is loaded, stored and processed on the graphics card.

He said the workstation price tag was an issue, which makes recommending a Quadro/FireGL tough. I’ve personally had BETTER luck with the recent “Fermi” chipset Geforce cards than I have with my $1500 Quadro 4800. The Quadro is incredibly finnicky with drivers - updating drivers from a previous version has caused me nothing with headaches in Alias, and the Quadro still isn’t correctly supported in WinXP 64 for Adobe CS5, which means whenever I try to transform an object in Photoshop my display handles don’t show up. It’s extremely painful.

My home machine under Win 7 with a GTX460 has cranked against some extremely, extremely complex scenes in real time rendering without any of the usual graphic anomolies that often show up. I can’t say the same for the new AMD/ATI cards. Still have a lot of driver issues on those so I can’t recommend them.

Again, going with non workstation hardware is always at your own risk and will depend on your applications, but some applications are very forgiving. Keep in mind most students are running 3D software and none of them are using approved hardware. If you’re a professional and it’s your lively hood you should make the investment, but if you don’t have the money going with consumer hardware isn’t the end of the world, in fact I know many professional 3D studios that exclusively use consumer hardware. Especially in the ad and gaming spaces.

Some FirePro cards start at under $100 and some of the entry-level Quadro’s cost slightly more, and if $$$ is an issue, think about the lost time/productivity troubleshooting something because of the wrong card. By the way, FireGL is now obsolete, replaced by the FirePro line. :wink:

The GPU power you get out of an entry level FirePro/Quadro will be completely incapable of handling ANY real time rendering software that is GPU based. The Professional hardware is all using the same physical GPU’s as the gamer hardware, so for programs like Shot which are completely dependant on the # of CUDA cores you can get $2k worth of performance out of a $250 card.

The original poster can chime in on what software he’s actually using, but I can tell you from first hand experience and testing with a half dozen Quadro cards, ATI consumer and Nvidia Consumer cards that the Nvidia consumer cards work very, very well in the 3D applications that I’ve tested, and to my earlier point - my $1500 Quadro has a major bug with CS5 and Windows XP64…do you know what Nvidias response was?

“Upgrade to Windows 7” . Which is a great response for a professional line of cards that should know that 3/4’s of the enterprise world is still on Windows XP.

That’s also not to mention that most of the Quadro cards in our “Certified HP Workstations” have frequent issue with the still flaky Display port connectors (monitors will turn off, corrupt video, etc).

Low End Quadro/FirePro cards are primarily designed for 2D applications like Autocad. The $130 Quadro FX 380 has 16 CUDA cores…the $130 GTX 260 has 216 cores, not to mention a 64 bit memory pipe on the Quadro and a 448-bit pipe on the Geforce. Those translate into performance differences that will be massive in real world usage.

Unless you can tell me a specific application that has known compatibility issues (which there are, but not everyone uses the same packages) then I can’t recommend a cheap professional card to someone on a budget.

You could also “soft-mod” a GeForce card into a Quadro.

Check out the SolidWorks benchmark.

Unfortunately soft modding died around when that article was written. The last card I’ve heard of doing a successful soft mod was the G80 which was the 8000 series of Geforce cards that are now several generations old. Since then new cards have had hardware locks that prevent soft modding.

Another thing to keep in mind that the Specviewperf benchmark just measures framerate when all you’re doing is spinning a model in the viewport, and that is typically less noticable to most users. The performance you’d get out of a gaming card is no worse than the performance I deal with every day on my 3 year old Quadro based laptop. It’s certainly a nice to have, but not a deal breaker to have choppier panning if your rendering tool works much quicker. Once again, it’s a useless argument to have until discussing what apps you are actually running and what your budget is. Prices, especially overseas can be insane when you consider that salaries are a fraction of what they are here in the US and the hardware is just as, if not more expensive. It’d be like someone coming and telling you that new workstation can either cost $5,000 or $10,000. I’m sure that would make the decision much easier for any of us when you consider relative costs.

This is another article which goes into this same subject in detail:

wow thanks all for the comments, and thanks cyberdemon for feeling my pain living with 3rd world country currency rate :wink: (thanks for the jeffpatton site, it really help me to understand better)

Workstation cards used to be a lot more expensive than a normal “gamer” card, but remember these days you can get affordable workstation-approved graphics cards for about the same price as a gamer card if you pick one that’s low-to-mid range. I don’t think graphics performance is so important for cad anyway, but a card with drivers that are practically certified and guaranteed to work, that’s what’s it all about.

I wish you could’ve sat behind me yesterday while my Quadro threw a fit with Pro E and I had to roll back to drivers that were 2 years old to get it to work right again. :smiley:

I’ve already beaten this horse - you will not get better real world performance out of a $200 Quadro, and in the original posters first post they specifically said they were doing GPU based rendering which requires horsepower, not just “Certified” drivers. The low end Quadro on my laptop is completely useless in Showcase working on anything more complex than a simple object. On the other hand, I’m working on the Geforce card as we speak and an 8 million polygon scene with 40 instances of my model is still tumbling around at 60fps.

Professional card support is not always as good as it’s made out to be.

I’ve been having the same issues with a ‘certified’ workstation graphics card… a Dell M65 with a nVidia Quadro FX 350M

ProE used to work fine, but during an upgrade to Win7, the drivers made ProE freeze every 30 sec for a second or two. You know, the kind of freeze where youuuuuuuuuuuu type like thisssssssssssssss when it freeeeeeeeeeeeeeeezes

I wasted months trying to fix it. Rolled back to XP, but the upgraded drivers did the same thing. Changed hard drives. Even imaged a build that seemed to work error free for a couple days, then started freezing again (I would just re-image twice a week). I tried different ProE build revisions, but no luck. The computer was un-usable due to the the freezing.

I ended up getting a new computer and same ProE installer worked fine, and I’ve had zero problems since - right now, I think it was all the driver.

To those that know: Can you recommend a specific desktop graphics card that can be used error free w/ ProE, Showcase, StudioTools, Rhino? I see many mentioned, but just want to ask… for instance, Cyberdemon - what GE force card are you using that is working so well?

I would like to build a strong desktop for CAD and rendering too, but can’t bear to waste more time with crap equipment…

I am using a GTX 460 for all of the programs you mentioned on my home PC, performance is fairly good, the biggest performance hit I notice is when any anti-aliasing is going on (the Quadros have much better optimization for line anti-aliasing) but I have not seen any show-stopping issues and Showcase support is actually very very fast. I am running a Quadro 4800 at work and I have some support issues with CS5 on xp64.

If you had the budget you could try to go for one of the new Quadro 4000 cards which is probably the most competitive price for a “fast” quadro (not one of the 2D optimized cards that are at their low end) but it’s still around $700 or so.

Build your own.

You can use to buy the parts, from the Motherboard up.

You’d be surprised how cheap components can be, especially the ones that aren’t the new IT thing. You can achieved about 90% of the performance of the highest end component out there for very little money. Plus, each bit of hardware is reviewed by hundreds or thousands of users.

I built my desktop PC workstation a few years ago for a few hundred bucks, and it is still faster than most PCs or Apples being sold out of the box. Reliable as ever, never got a BSOD, plenty of RAM (16 GB), strong processing power (currently a Core 2 Duo, but going to upgrade to a Quad sometime soon), and 2 TB of disk space (soon to add a SSD for my OS to make the machine scream with speed).

It is by far the most economical, rewarding, and cost-effective for power to dollar ratio. It takes some research here and there, but that is what makes it economical, because most people don’t like using their brains or spending time to solve complex problems (sounds a lot like ID, right?).

I still only recommend building a PC if you feel comfortable doing it, or if you have someone to oversee you or put it together for you.

There are still a lot of things that are not trivial in building a PC - I’ve had to clean up several messes when friends built their own machines. One didn’t properly position all the standoffs between the mother board and the case and wound up grounding out half the motherboard, one snapped the DIMM mount off trying to insert the memory without the motherboard being on a hard surface, and some other similar simple to make but costly mistakes.

But - if you have someone who can give you guidance or are very patient at reading how-to’s then it’s not that bad.

Theres also a world of used PC equipment out there that can often be had for a great price. I just got a 6 core, water cooled monster of a desktop for only $600 from some kid on Craigslist who didn’t want it anymore…$1500+ worth of hardware for less then half.

Build it yourself with parts from Newegg, and buy your graphics card off ebay. I just built this 2 weeks ago:

New Components:
Motherboard: Intel DX58S02 ($250 Newegg)
Processor: Intel i7 970 6-Core 3.2 gHZ overclocked to 4.3 GHz ($600 Newegg)
Memory: 12GB Corsair Dominator DDR-3 2000 MHz overclocked to 2650 MHz ($250 Newegg)

Old Components:
Video Card: Quadro FX 4600 (bought in 2008 $400 ebay)
Hard Drive: Intel SSD (bought 2010 $300 Newegg)

I model in Alias and render in Keyshot. The Quadro card is a survivor, no obsolescence in sight. Keyshot uses processor so I spent money on that.