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Which card is better for CAD work?

post #1 of 30
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I'm a relativley new engineering student who is going to need to do a lot of work with Pro-e and Solidworks and Autocad and such.

The rig I built now was meant to serve most of these needs, but since I am still within my refund period I want to return my 8800gts and spend the extra 100 dollars to get a GTX 260 or an HD 4870. They are roughly the same price now, and I know the 4870 is a better gaming card (by 6 percent), but does anyone know which card would serve me better in CAD work?

I'm hesitant to get the 4870 becasue I feel like having the 896mb of memory in the 260 would be better for huge part files. I'd appreciate help from anyone with experience in this area. I know I already posted somethign like this but that was for gaming. Thanks!
    
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post #2 of 30
I find that when in use in Mechanical CAD software most GPU's are fine, i can run SW2k7 easily on my 8800GT, its more a point of CPU and RAM power in mechCAD which i can see you have plenty of, usually for CAD work you need a card with openGL capabilities such as the Nvidia Quatro Cards and ATi FireGL's
    
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post #3 of 30
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Armadi110 View Post
I find that when in use in Mechanical CAD software most GPU's are fine, i can run SW2k7 easily on my 8800GT, its more a point of CPU and RAM power in mechCAD which i can see you have plenty of, usually for CAD work you need a card with openGL capabilities such as the Nvidia Quatro Cards and ATi FireGL's
Well I thought that the only difference with the Quadro and FireGL cards was that they had better driver support and were twice the price I used to run Inventor on my old mobility radeon x1800 (albeit poorly). My whole quesiton was if 512mb would be significantly worse than the 896mb on the GTX 260.
    
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post #4 of 30
I don't have experience with those two cards specifically, but I can make an educated guess for you and say that you are right, the GTX260 would technically be better because of more memory but very little difference in GPU performance. It will especially be helpful if you want to run at super high resolutions.


And yes, the only real differences between the gaming cards and the professional cards are the BIOS and drivers. But mostly the drivers. Gaming cards are tuned more for matrix math (like texture filtering), while Pro cards are tuned more for vector math (like shading and AA).

You can actually trick your computer into thinking a gaming card is a pro card using rivatuner, and then install the pro drivers (but watch out, each program has its own set of drivers that are optimized for it). Sometimes it helps, sometimes it doesn't, all depending on which card it is and which drivers you install.
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post #5 of 30
If my p4 (i think 1.6g) with 512 of pc133 and 32mb xabre ag200 gpu can run sw2007 then any of the newer cards should do fine. I've only done simple 1-4 part drawings but have tried to load some complicated drawing files that didn't go so well.

Like armadi said opengl is recommended.
http://www.solidworks.com/pages/serv...uirements.html

Here are some recommended cards
ATI
Nvidia
Edited by junkxp - 7/6/08 at 5:11pm
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post #6 of 30
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Manyak View Post
I don't have experience with those two cards specifically, but I can make an educated guess for you and say that you are right, the GTX260 would technically be better because of more memory but very little difference in GPU performance. It will especially be helpful if you want to run at super high resolutions.


And yes, the only real differences between the gaming cards and the professional cards are the BIOS and drivers. But mostly the drivers. Gaming cards are tuned more for matrix math (like texture filtering), while Pro cards are tuned more for vector math (like shading and AA).

You can actually trick your computer into thinking a gaming card is a pro card using rivatuner, and then install the pro drivers (but watch out, each program has its own set of drivers that are optimized for it). Sometimes it helps, sometimes it doesn't, all depending on which card it is and which drivers you install.
yeah thats what seemed to make sense to me too. i guess it shouldnt be that big of a deal, but i've done work in Autodesk inventor before on my laptop with 2 gigs of ram and a mobility radeon x1800 256mb and after you get an assembly with a couple hundred parts it stars to bog down a lot. i think i'm going to go for the GTX 260 then, something about having more ram just makes me feel better haha.
    
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post #7 of 30
The FireGL cards work really well if SolidWorks is using the SpaceBall or Space Navigator dynamic control.

For CAD work the ATI cards have mostly taken the center stage for the rendering required.
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post #8 of 30
Stick with the GTS, it will cope with pretty much anything you throw at it. Driver choice might be tricky, I found certain drivers for my 8800GT at work did not play ball under Vista with AutoCAD and Inventor, do a bit of research for what's best.

Spend some money on a bigger monitor - essential for CAD work!
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post #9 of 30
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by moward View Post
Stick with the GTS, it will cope with pretty much anything you throw at it. Driver choice might be tricky, I found certain drivers for my 8800GT at work did not play ball under Vista with AutoCAD and Inventor, do a bit of research for what's best.

Spend some money on a bigger monitor - essential for CAD work!
Well the only reason I'm ditching my GTS is because that the day after I bought it all of the new cards came out, and also dropped prices. And I'm within my 30 day refund period, so I figure I should upgrade now for 100 instead of waiting to long and spening 300 on a new card. I

know my GTS is adequate but as a money-challenged college student I need a few years I'm kicking myself for only having 512 VRAM with the newest programs, when I could have had 896. I just don't know if it's better to have more VRAM and a bigger bus in CAD (and i know the 4870 is a better gaming card).

As for the monitor, that's coming in a few months.
    
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post #10 of 30
work station cards are better:
ie:
ati Fire GL
or
Nvidia fx quattro

but these are expensive and probably not in your price range.

so i would go with the ati HD4850, since the ATI cards i believe are better at rendering, atleast the fireGL workstation ones.
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