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3D CAD (SolidWorks) Graphics Card

Posted on 2011-09-06
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2012-05-12
We currently have some workstations with ATI Raedon HD 4550's and are looking to upgrade. We are getting SolidWorks but our CR's don't require us to use 3D models as we build machines not make parts. We are looking to start putting the machines into 3D models for our future reference, so we are basically intro to 3D CAD. What graphics cards would you recommend as this won't be a daily thing for us. We could get nVidia 460 fermis or ATI 5770's for under $200 but how would those compare to spending $400-500 for the ATI 6970's or nVidia  580 or something around those?

Just need some direction as how much better the higher end cards are and if they are worthwhile. Also, newegg has "Professional" cards but they don't look better than the cards mentioned above, thoughts?
Question by:rpmccly
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LVL 27

Expert Comment

ID: 36490503
you get what you pay for. if you get the cheaper cards they will do the job fine, but wont be as responsive as the better ones when dealing with big, detailed 3d models etc.
you'll probably be able to get better screen resolution without losing performance too.

if your doing big complicated models constantly, get the better cards.
if you'll rarely make complicated models, or wont be using CAD constantly, the additional cost just isnt worth it.

also,ensure the pcs has as much memory as they can handle, as 3d modeling is very memory hungry.

Author Comment

ID: 36490544
How much memory should there be? 8GB/16GB? what would you recommend?
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LVL 27

Expert Comment

ID: 36491162
>Good card but probably aimed more at gaming.
>Not bad for the price and would be fine for reasonable CAD work.

>Nice. pretty good and definately better and faster, much more memory, faster processor with more streams.
>I think this is better value than the 1st one in many ways

>damn nice card but a bit pricey. if youre looking at huge screens and massive resolutions, this would be the best one. not cheap though and would depend on what budget you can justify.

I like the middle one is damn good for the money and would do for the majority. only heavy processing would be a struggle with this.

Memory, assuming youre going 64bit, i reckon 8gb is ok for most situations. any heavy CAD use and 16gb would definitely help but isnt necessary. anything more than that is likelly to be overkill.
LVL 34

Expert Comment

ID: 36492414
The only video cards that are certified to work with solid works are Nvidia Quadro cards and AMDs FireGL and FirePro. These cards were designed for applications like solids works, the gaming are not and will chug. It's true most of these Professional cards use the same chips as their gaming brethren but the difference in firmware, drivers, and support is whats makes them perform better in these apps and its also why they cost more. Here's a good article that compare 2 cards a gaming card and a workstation card that use the same GPU, yet the workstation card leaves the gaming card in the dust in solidworks.
For your price range I recommend this card the quadro 2000

Author Comment

ID: 36495540
That chart seems a little unfair to me, the V8700 is a pretty nice professional model and a more current model where as the 4870 is an older model. Any idea if there is a comparision with one of the 2 cards above? We really don't have a validation in spending $800 on the V8700. I would say $500 would be the max.
LVL 34

Accepted Solution

jamietoner earned 2000 total points
ID: 36496320
The chart was just to show that the workstation cards perform better in CAD compared to gaming cards. In that chart the V8700 and the 4870 use the SAME gpu(rv770) and the 4870 even has a higher memory clock so I don't see how the comparison was unfair.
Here's a review of the quadro 2000
Another good option in that price range is the firepro V5900

Expert Comment

ID: 36497986
I agree with what's been said. I had a customer that needed a purpose built machine for AutoCad Revit 2011(Architecture) and another customer needed some machines ordered for AutoCad 3d Civil ,while yet another had to build one for SolidWorks.

I believe all three of these machines ended up having the high end FX580 cards, and it was my experience that the best way to run these were ideally sitting on a Precision Workstation, 64bit OS (either XP or 7) and as much memory as you can throw at it (16gb) though should be sufficient for most.

Prior to upgrading one of the video cards from what was a decent gaming 3d card, putting in the FX was a night and day difference. This was comparing a mid $250 card compared to the $700 card they upgraded to.

As they have said above, the vendor certifies cards for this purpose. If you have further questions, there are toll free support that can answer if you by chance are looking at a newer card than what may be listed. The best cards ARE pricey, but worth it when you're talking about taking seconds to rendor as opposed to minutes at a time to model things.

I would also suggest looking at aftermarket cooling solutions as well. A number of those OEM fan solutions are not of the highest quality and can certainly benefit from better cooling..

Hope it helps.
LVL 27

Expert Comment

ID: 36498477
These guys are right, the bigger budget will make a huge difference, bit its down to what you can afford/justify.
Good point about cooling mentioned above, by the way. These things will need extra cooling bigtime.
LVL 59

Expert Comment

ID: 36923016
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