Quadro Vs Geforce - Video Card Comparison

So one thing I’ve seen a lot of talk about over my time is the comparison between workstation class video cards (ATI FireGL, NVidia Quadro) and Gaming class cards (Radeon/Geforce) cards. There is a decent amount of info already out there, but most of this compares different brands/different models. So I thought I’d try and put some more info out there comparing a gaming specific card with its close technological counterpart in Workstation form.

The general conclusion I’ve reached in the past (and most likely will not change) is that if you can afford a Quadro, then by all means get it. For amatuers, freelancers, and students however, it isn’t so easy. So the purpose of this is to try and get some empirical data and give a little bit of comparison and between the two.

Background: Now that I finally have a job I can have access to both types of hardware, and both workstations are similarly equipped. This is in no way a highly specific scientific test, and my benchmarks have yet to be fully determined. The hardware itself will be:

Geforce 7950 GX2 vs a Quadro FX 4500
Similarities: Both use a very similar GPU core (G70 vs G71), each card is equipped with 512 megs of ram and PCI express based. In terms of physical hardware advantage the GX2 is the more powerful board.

Differences: The 7950 GX2 is actually two cards bolted together, for the purpose of these tests SLI will be disabled.

At the moment I plan on installing whatever software packages I can get running on both machines (IE anything I either have 2 licenses of or can download free trials for).

Currently that most likely covers:
Autodesk AliasStudio
Autodesk Maya PLE
Rhino 4

In addition to trying and get some frame rate figures (to see which card handles the graphics smoother) I will try and identify differences in on screen rendering quality (shaded viewports, evaluation views, antialiasing, hardware rendering) as well as bugs (features that don’t work correctly on gaming cards).

This will all take place over the course of the next few weeks most likely, but I figured I’d post this while I had some free time and remembered about it. You can use this thread to ask any other general computer geek questions as well and I’ll do my best to answer them. :laughing: [/b]

Awesome. I’ve seen people go back and forth on this topic for years. It will be nice to see someone test it for themselves. I look forward to the results.

One other thing I failed to mention for those that aren’t aware:

Physically speaking Gaming cards and Workstation class cards are nearly identical. It is cheapest for the company to design 1 physical board, then enable or disable features via hardware locks or software drivers depending on what that board gets used for. In the past you could “soft mod” - hack a Geforce card using software to “unlock” the Quadro features. However eventually Nvidia caught on and that is no longer possible.

The end result is paying a very substantial premium for a piece of electronics that is nearly (or completely) identical to it’s gaming counterpart. For the purpose of this test the FX4500 ran for roughly $1500, while a 7800GTX (it’s true counterpart) sold for around $400.

yeah this would be nice to see. We mod the high end gaming cards in the machines we sell, which are used to run an OpenGL application for video and film work.

Well the first attempt to test failed miserably.

Tried seeing how AliasStudio handled a model - wouldn’t even go into shade view, just got huge amounts of redraw artifacts. Probably a driver issue, though it’s interesting since Maya runs fine.

Though the Quadro card was handling this model disappointingly slowly as well. I’ll need to figure out if theres some kind of driver or modelling issue on that machine (since I didn’t make the model and I’m still new to Alias I’m not sure yet)

studio is picky about driver version, use the qualified driver listed on the alias support site with the correct configuration settings.

here’s the page listing the links to the video driver qualification pages for versions of alias:

one test that you might employ is the spec.org apc and viewperf tests. i’ve been using the solidworks apc benchmark to rank our systems. if you can get a license of solidworks that would be quite useful to many people who read this forum.

since you have maya you can download the maya test and use it right away, though it is for maya 6.5. if you have a more recent version then the license file should allow you to run v6.5 as well, the licenses have been backward compatible in the past.


as a final note you might also try the same tests with different video driver versions. i found a 5-10% difference in the solidworks benchmark simply by installing a different driver version.

oh yeah, if you have real time shading issues in alias and it isn’t the video driver rev or config, try opening the options in the hardware shading and switch modes from “Fast” tesselation to “Accurate”, or whatever they’re calling it these days. basically, the fast tesselation algorithm is borrowed from maya, the so-called accurate method is surface by surface based on each node’s min and max subdivision parameters.

also, the quadro fx 4500 x2 would be an apple to apple comparison with the 7950 gx2, but i don’t expect you to fork over $1500-$2000 for that card simply to get a more accurate test.

Yeah, I’m sure it’s a driver issue, just haven’t had enough time to dick around with the different versions at the moment. I’m running my current card in non SLI mode. So windows is only using one of the GPU’s - that should keep it fairly balanced.

Been in the middle of an automotive crisis so I haven’t had much time to spend at the computer this past week. But I’ll keep people posted.

I am shopping for a laptop right now and looking for what will best suit my needs. This is a tough one, I use mostly Adobe CS3 and Painter… however I use Rhino when needed. I need something that will do both well. I currently use a P4 3.6gig Alienware with a Nvidia Quadro FX1400. Runs Rhino pretty well, but this system tends to be glitchy with Adobe. I have crashes every few days and Illustrator almost never will close properly. My IT department and Alienware Help has been through the laptop several times with no real success… I am looking at computers with Gforce cards but am really worried about getting the wrong thing (Quadro?)because these systems are very expensive and my company has very demanding time frames! I have to be up and running and mobile. Well, any suggestions would be helpful, I will keep watching this blog and also start another asking about comparing Mac to PC laptops for Industrial Design. Thanks for asking the tough questions.

Yeah - unfortunately work caught up to me and my work system is incredibly unstable, so until it gets fixed and I have free time (probably a long time away at this point) the comparison was on hold.

What I can say though is I changed drivers on my home system and Studio tools seems to run great. No crashing, no glitches that I can tell (haven’t checked the paint side of things). Unfortunately on my workstation I get tons of glitches so it’s hard to compare anything.

As far as a laptop - anything with a dedicated video card will run Rhino just fine. They did a good job with the compatibility on Rhino. I wouldn’t worry about a Quadro card as much - you’d be better off spending the extra cash towards a faster HDD or CPU.

Mac laptops are fine if you want to use OSX and pay the premium. I personally have always had great luck with Dell machines as they often have the best bang for the buck.