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Dual (passive?) CAD graphics cards for SILENT system with 8 monitor array

Question asked by Steve Elliot on Oct 4, 2016
Latest reply on Oct 6, 2016 by Craig Schultz

I want a SILENT (i.e. sub 12 dB LOADED) computer suitable for low-mid level CAD work in a non-commercial setting.


I want to use 8 x 24 inch Dell UltraSharp monitors - 5 x portrait (one row) + 3 x landscape (another row)


My CAD needs are minimal – mainly 2D architectural & mechanical visualizations.


My 3D work involves simple (i.e. non-photorealistic, non-presentation) architectural and mechanical views.


I have OLD versions of many CAD programs – SolidWorks / AutoCAD / Pro Engineer / ArchiCAD / Revit / VectorWorks/ etc.


My hardware/operation constraints are:


            Digital TV tuner that won’t work with nVidia graphics cards


            8 x 24 inch Dell UltraSharp monitors - 5 x portrait (one row) + 3 x landscape (another row)

            Did I mention NO NOISE?


5 of the 8 monitors would be dedicated to a specific, non CAD applications, at all times –

1 – email / internet

1 – word processing/text editor

1 – spreadsheet/database

1 – TV (via external digital tuner & Windows 7 Media Player – note: this unit is NOT compatible with nVidia chips)

1 – pdf/imaging

3 of the monitors would be available for CAD (perhaps 2 spanned in landscape + 1 individual in portrait)


32 dB is the quietest fully loaded graphics card listed in TomsHardware test charts. 32 dB is a LONG way from SILENT.


Puget Systems tells me that their quietest CAD system would be at least 15 dB when the graphics card is fully loaded.


So; a passive graphics card solution (performance permitting) would be best approach to insure a SILENT system.


I assume that I will need to use dual graphics cards to drive 8 monitors in the array configuration I desire.


Being limited to AMD/ATI I am only aware of two passive workstation graphics cards in my price range –


          The V7900P – a 138W card made for server use.  This has 1 x DisplayPort (so daisy chained active adapters would be needed).


          The 2460 – a 20W card made for display walls. This has 4 x mini DisplayPort (individual outputs to each monitors).


The V7900P has so much more power than I need that most of the time it would be idling along and NEVER stressed to the limit.


The 2460 has (perhaps?) JUST enough power, but would most likely be running full tilt and highly stressed all the time.


Back in 2011, in the Thread ATI FirePro vs nVidia Quadro


Charles Culp said the ATI FirePro V3800 was adequate for small assemblies for the average user, and the V4800 was overkill for most CAD users.


Clearly, the V3800 is a more powerful/capable card for CAD use than the 2460. And the V7900P easily eclipses the V3800/V4800.


But assuming the V3800 was indeed adequate for small assemblies for the average CAD user in 2011, how much less real world performance would a pair of 2460 cards, driving 4 monitors each, provide with older, mainly 2D, CAD programs in 2016?


Does any forum member have any experience cooling the V7900P in a non-server installation?


Would it be possible to cool a pair of V7900P cards in a mini tower case with 9 x 120mm slow speed, sub 9 dB case fans?


Any comments, guidance, or alternative 4 monitor capable graphics card suggestions that would enable me to configure a SILENT CAD capable system would be much appreciated.