Solid REALLY benefits from a pro card. I don't know if AMD is good for Matlab, though I'm pretty sure it's OK for Solidworks. Quadro is good for all pro apps, but there's a price premium, so if FirePro works well, you can save money. AMD likes to use red PCB on their cards though, so it would ruin the aesthetics
Then again, it seems Nvidia likes green PCB
The 5900 is a little aged, but it's one of the best values.
The Quadro 4000 is about the area of Nvidia I recommend you go, after that it's just charging you for more VRAM and incremental core upgrades. The Quadro 2000 is OK. Still, $700 for the 4000 is a big investment with a lot of payoff if you can use the additional horsepower. If not, the 2000 is the way to go.
Like I said, the only reason you get a professional card is for their drivers. If those drivers don't play nice with your specific programs, you have no choice but to go with Nvidia. You can opt for a Kepler-based K5000, though I hear mixed reviews about the increased price and the benefit over Fermi. But chances are, you don't need anything more than a $500 card. If you work with 10 million or more polygons, you NEED the Quadro 4000. With 0-5 million, you should be perfect with the Quadro 2000 or FirePro 5900, provided the FirePro plays nice with your specific apps.Edited by 267267123 - 12/25/12 at 2:01pm