Graphics card importance

I’m not exactly the tech geek so don’t kill me for asking stupid questions…

I’m confused about the importance of the graphics card in modelling and rendering. I understand when playing games, editing video, or animating you need good graphics card performance, but when rendering, is it not the actual CPU doing the work instead of the graphics card?
Would you not be able to render as good an image, and as fast with a shitty card as with a good one?

It’s not about the rendering as you are correct, most rendering applications (with a few exceptions like Showcase) are CPU based.

The issue comes when you are actually modelling. Whenever you see a shaded 3D object on the screen, it is being rendered by the video card. This means if you’re doing simple, basic objects, you can probably get away with a consumer grade gaming card like a Geforce. The issue comes as you move up the ladder - if you are working on highly complex assemblies of parts then your machine will take a very big performance hit when rotating or moving around your model.

For the most part - if you are a student you can get away with a gaming card, but don’t get a machine that has integrated graphics - this is simply incompatible with almost all 3D software. A cheap sub $100 graphics solution should be fine though.

Thanks for the reply, makes sense.

I got an iMac a couple of months ago so that’s mainly the reason i was asking. And yes I know you are asking why the mac for 3d/cad, but I really just can’t say no t these things, also they’re less a hassle than PC’s IMO. And with Rhino and Solidworks releasing Mac native versions… But that’s all beside the point.

There are a bunch of new real time rendering software popping up now that use the GPU (the processor on the graphics card) instead of the CPU and they’re pretty cool.

Check it out:

And some more:
http://www.google.com.hk/search?sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8&q=gpu+rendering