workstation graphic card Vs dual gaming card for CAD

im purchasing a new workstation and i cant decide on which graphic card to get, would anyone know which woulld be better for doing 3D/2DCAD work - StudioTools/Rhino/3DMax.

Option A:Two Asus extreme 7800GT 256MB (PCI Express) graphic cards in SLI connection = AUD$1150 or

Option B:One 3Dlabs 256MB Realizm500 (PCI Express) Graphic card =AUD$1240

i have enough in my budget to purchase either options, i have used 3Dlabs cards before and have found them to be awesome but i havent had any expirence with these dual SLI gaming cards, and the thought of two 256MB cards running parallel = to 512MB sounds very temping. I know the 3Dlabs have certifed drivers to run the softwares im using. Would anyone know which would be my best option and would i notice a huge increase in speed when im working on really heavy geometry with option A because there is two cards??? am i better off sticking to option B (workstation card)…

Go with the workstation card. They’re developed specifically for commercial applications like AutoCAD, Solidworks, CATIA, etc. The gaming cards may work depending on what you are doing, but in most cases the workstation card will be vastly superior.

I run Pro/E Wildfire and Maya on an AGP 6600GT game card. A workstation card would run better, but for my design work it’s unnecessary.

If money is no object, get the workstation-level hardware. If you’re watching costs, the new game cards can probably do most of what you need.

I can almost guarantee the CAD software will NOT take advantage of two cards running in SLI. It’s like having a Dual Core or multi processor system, and then using software that will only take advantage of one processor.

If you feel like spending that amount of money on the workstation card, and are doing VERY complex 3d work I’d say go for it. For most cad work, a card like a 6600GT will cost $100 and let you get away with the majority of what you need.

My 6600GT handled 2 monitors @ 1680x1050, ran Maya, Rhino, etc with fairly complex models no problem. If things got really sluggish I would just hide the data I wasn’t using on a new layer, but in Maya that wouldn’t happen until after several million polygons.

nVidia GeForce cards are identical to their Quadro counterparts when it comes to hardware.

The only difference is in the drivers which optimize the hardware differently and tweak memory timings.

You can soft mod a GeForce with a Quadro flash update and effectively turn it into a Quadro. This process has been documented over and over again on the Web. Do a Google search.

The same applies to ATI Radeon and FireGl cards.

Moral of the story - there is no point to spend extra $$$ on workstation grade video cards.

Ditto what he said about the Geforce->Quadro softmod. I have never bothered doing it on any of my cards simply because I game too much and I’ve never really had any problems with the cards performance in Maya, Rhino, or any other 3d apps.

Although I did recently upgrade from a 6600 to a 7800 and Maya sometimes develops a viewport glitch if I have any directX apps open on my second monitor. I can fix it with a couple changes of the windows, but its mostly just a small nuisance.

I’ve never used or seen anyone use those 3d labs cards. I’m guessing they must be pretty top of the line for serious CAD visualization, but I honestly wonder if you’re going to be using that much power if you aren’t in the CG film industry or dealing with huge scientific datasets.

a few notes:

  1. both ati and nvidia use similar or even identical boards for their CAD cards as their consumer cards. the drivers are what make the difference in opengl performance, as stated earlier. however, that difference is actually noticeable, if not tremendous, according to several articles i’ve read online from reputable sources.

  2. recently nvidia changed their production method (or pny, the co that actually makes the quadro cards) to prevent people from soft modding a geforce to a quadro. i don’t know if ati has done this as well or not. here are some links about softmodding from consumer to CAD:

  1. 3dlabs just announced it will no longer make workstation video cards, so it would seem that the realizm card prices might go down rapidly. of course, stock might go down too as the remaining cards are sent to HP, IBM, etc. to fulfill contracts. don’t know how much inventory exists of the realizm cards.

  2. studiotools is very picky with video cards in sketch and shaded modes. check the qualification chart for studio 13 in the support area of the alias web site to find out what features you’ll have in shaded mode with your card of choice.

I’ve been using an nVidia 6800/256 for Maya, Solidworks, Studiotools, etc – and performance-wise, it’s fine (1920x1200 @32bit, sometimes driving another monitor at 1680x1050 simultaneously).

The main issue is that the card’s AA is not completely compatible with the Alias programs. If you really care about having 4x hardware-antialiased lines in your viewport – then splurge on the Quadro or FireGL. In my case, the school required that I get a laptop, and the one with a Quadro card had a smaller, lower-res screen, less RAM, and no DVI port, and cost 50% more. With my particular card, I haven’t had any problems with shaded or sketch mode with Studiotools 13.

I know of only 5-6 people in my entire faculty (120 people) who are actually running Quadros or FireGLs, and they have zero detectable advantage over the people running Radeons and GeForces. They just paid more.

What to take away: 90% of the time a gaming card will do just fine. Just make sure you get enough RAM (256+ preferably) and DO NOT get the “intel integrated” solution, which shouldn’t be sold as a graphics accelerator anyway if you ask me.