I see a lot of conflicting comments on how much SolidWorks (general large assembly functions) actually uses the video card.
Please comment on what video cards to use and why.
I think the people who know the most about this issue aren't answering you because it has become equivalent to religion in the 14th and 15th centuries, or politics today. Everybody has an opinion and nobody is listening to anyone on the other side. Personally, I side with Anna and Charles, that the CPU is more important than the graphics card, but I don't work with large assemblies.
My own reading of the various threads that I have seen is that ATI has better hardware but they are slower than Nvidia to get the drivers through the SolidWorks certification process.
At least some of the people who work with large assemblies claim that the high end cards are worth the cost. I don't remember seeing any people who felt ripped off by the expensive cards. It seems to me that there are more Nvidia users among the high end card people. I suspect this is due to Nvidia's earlier lead in high end cards, inertia and conservatism amongst the users, and the "Ford-Chevy" mentality so prevalent.
Thanks for your reply. I agree that the first emphasis should be placed on the Processor, then the video card. I'm trying to leave brand names out it. I use nVidia for comparison only.
What I'm after is..how much difference will there really be, and how much can SW really use of the video cards shown in the nVidea catalog?
Quadro 2000 1G/128 bit
Quadro 4000 2G/256 bit
Quadro FX4800 1.5G/384 bit
Quadro 5000 2.5G/320 bit
Quadro FX5800 4G/512 bit
Quadro 6000 6G/384 bit
Would you put more emphasis on VRAM, bits, Mem bandwith?
Keep in mind a machine life cycle of 3 years min (sometimes 5 or 6).
What is a good test/benchmark?
How to get some real science behind it, instead of marketing hype?
We have an ongoing trial between the Quadro 4000/AMD v7900 and AMD v4900/5900. We have been looking at the GPU utilitzation during benchmarks from solidmuse.com and our own fairly large and complex models. What we have found so far is that most of the time an increase in CPU yields far more than what the video card is doing. Most of the time the Quadro 4000 and a V7900 we have were barely doing any heavy lifting. Most of the time we could get by with the v4900, but we will probably be switching our standard to the v5900 so that we have more ram on the card to use when our people have multiple large assemblies open at one time. BTW in our tests only one core on CPU was being utilitzed by Solidworks no matter what we threw at it. We had the Quadro 4000 as our standard card, but that looks to be changing. Does this help you any?
I agree with what Steve has seen. The CPU has a greater affect on the video performance along with overall software performance.
I have run Spin500Mouse tests using a macro from Josh Mings, SolidSmack website with the lastest Nvidia Quadro series cards and see no real difference in the spin test performance with any of the video cards I have run on my datasets on the same computer hardware setup. See the macro at the bottom of the post linked below.
Take those same cards and same datasets and run Spin500Mouse with them on a more powerful cpu/workstation and you get much faster video frame rate results. All the cards outputting almost the same frame rates. Not enough difference to account for the price difference between the cards.
I also have experience using the Quadro 600, 2000, 4000 and 5000 on my production datasets over several months with each card. I can say comfortably in day to day usage the 4000 series and above work better. With datasets that were feature rich I had video issues with the 600 and 2000. Nothing huge, but the video would be laggy at times. You could tell the video card was working hard. Those issues went away when I installed the higher end cards.
First and foremost spend your money on the fastest cpu you can afford. Then I would make sure to have a lot of RAM and a fast hard drive. 10K Western Digital Velociraptors or my preference these days an SSD drive. Then I would go for the best video card you can afford. I prefer Nvidia, but the AMD FirePro's work great as well.
If you ever plan to use a GPU renderer like Bunkspeed Shot you will want to go Nvidia. Shot uses the cuda cores in the Nvidia card when rendering.
Stay away from the FX4800 and FX5800 cards. Those are a generation older then the 2000, 4000, 5000, 6000 Nvidia cards. I also expect that Nvidia will be out with new workstation class GPU's sometime later this year. Just a guess on my part based on the fact that their current series of cards were introduced in mid 2010.
For production work my current preference are the Quadro 4000's or the equivalent AMD FirePro.
Thank you for your detailed reply.
How does "Sandy Bridge" processors affect graphics, and does this only apply if using onboard graphics?
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