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Graphics 'Workstation' Cards vs 'Consumer' Cards

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by cjmUK, 26 Jan 2007.

  1. cjmUK

    cjmUK Old git.

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    Some colleagues are looking at getting new PCs for 2D/3D CAD work, and I'm helping review the spec of machines they are asking for.

    I was asked by the management what the difference was between the workstation cards and the consumer cards, and I couldn't answer them. On paper they seem to be almost identical.

    They are asking for an Nvidia Quadro FX3500 which is about £700. Yet according to Tom's Hardware it's little better than the FX1500 at half the price.

    It also has the same chip as a GeForce 7900 (G71) and the same memory; yet some of the key metrics seem to be worse.

    A 7600GT seems to have very similar capability as an FX1500...

    So what is the difference between the Quadro and GeForce ranges? Is there a real difference? If there is, is it worth the incredible price premium? I certainly think the FX1500 is a better choice than the FX3500 because the performance difference is dwarved by the price difference.
     
  2. rowin4kicks

    rowin4kicks a man walked into a bar ...

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    i thought that the workstation cards were designed to be on all the time and much more stable and reliable than the consumer cards, i maybe wrong, but i am sure i heard that some where
     
  3. Lazlow

    Lazlow I have a dremel.

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    For a start their drivers are a lot more reliable and stable - afaik they have to go through a strict series of tests prior to being released. So you're pretty much guaranteed that they'll work with all the 2D/3D programs.
     
  4. LVMike

    LVMike What's a Dremel?

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    the are also optimised for 3d rendering. I have used two workstations set up exactly the same excet one had a consumer grade card and the other had a ws version of the same card. THe work station card was able to do ProE Wildfire renders quaite a bit faster than the consumer card, and didnt use as many system resorces to do it. The drivers for the cards are ones that are universal in most CAD CAM CAE programs, and theirfore they cand performe operations related to those programs better.

    Additionaly they tend to be far more robust designs, intended to hold up for much longer times while operating at 100%.
     
  5. Sloth

    Sloth #yolo #swag

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    If they want to use the ever popular and wonderful AutoCAD they'll need a workstation card, most consumer based cards don't work well and display various things incorrectly on that specific program.. but they are specialized for what they do, and are top notch. I used a FireGL card in the PC at school and even though it's weaker in specs than my 7600GT it perform admirably (for it's price, my PC is still better due the better CPU though)
     
  6. oasked

    oasked Stuck in (better) mud

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    Many "Workstation cards" are identical to consumer cards, but they have specialised drivers for CAD and other design work. Normal consumer cards are crippled in this respect.

    There have been a lot of tools in the past to fool the drivers to work with consumer cards, not sure for the latest cards though.

    If the company is paying, get the workstation cards. :)
     
  7. Pointy Burdz

    Pointy Burdz What's a Dremel?

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    if you can, source the quadro cards elsewhere and save some money if you are budget restricted.

    a common practice is for people to "camp" in the dell outlet pages looking for a workstation with a decent video card, they buy the system stick a consumer card in [7900gtx etc] sell it, then separately sell the quadro on ebay for a decent profit due to the ridiculous retail price of the quadro cards,
    seen a few 3500's go for around the £300 or less mark recently.

    I just ordered a Dell Precision 390 Workstation from Euro PC [for a work colleague unfortunately, I'm still stuck with a 3 year old Precision 360 :(] , with a 512 meg quadro 4500, 6800 extreme core2duo, 4 gig ram, SAS HD's, and 20" tft for the ridiculously cheap amount of £1800 plus vat

    so you can see the opportunity for reconfiguring and making good profit
     
  8. cjmUK

    cjmUK Old git.

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    We're not short of cash, it's just that we don't want to waste money. I think I'm happy to recommend a workstation card, but more along the lines of Fx1500 rather than a Fx3500 given the price/performance difference.
     
  9. Pointy Burdz

    Pointy Burdz What's a Dremel?

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    for what its worth I'm currently using a P4 3.0 northwood/1 gig ram/quadro 700gxl for ProE/Wildfire/Solidedge at work :(, just about does the job, but it hurts when I have to order a system with the spec I listed above for a work colleague, never mind tho my time will come shortly for a new workstation :), if not I can see me using my laptop at this rate :wallbash:

    so you are correct that an fx1500 will most probably do you for now and the forseeable future.
     
  10. cjmUK

    cjmUK Old git.

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    Cheers Pointy....
     
  11. Pointy Burdz

    Pointy Burdz What's a Dremel?

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    configured the above workstation Monday, and although there is no doubt at the sheer power of the machine, the 4500 quadro would indeed appear to be overkill with the day to day stuff [average 30-50 parts per assembly excluding std fastenings], it did however handle multiple parts in ProE, and having NX3/Proe/Solidworks all opened at same time, but I'd put that down to the cpu and 4 gig ram more than the gpu.
     
  12. Pointy Burdz

    Pointy Burdz What's a Dremel?

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    ooh double post
     
  13. cjmUK

    cjmUK Old git.

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    Pointy,

    The number of apps has little to do with your GPU, but often you'll find the CPU/RAM *does* have a big impact on how things are rendered.

    I think the bosses are looking at a Precision 390 with an FX1500 for around £1200 which makes much more sense than the Xeon/FX3500 box costing £2000 that the CAD guys wanted.

    I'd love to see how a consumer card performs. I reckon it would be fine... but it's not the kind of thing you want to gamble on at work! :worried:
     
  14. Pointy Burdz

    Pointy Burdz What's a Dremel?

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    I've got an 8800gtx in my shuttle, but due to the performance of my laptop [fx1500m] I've never gotten around to installing ProE on it

    p.s. make sure you spec a core2 duo on that 390 if you haven't already
     
  15. cjmUK

    cjmUK Old git.

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    I got a 380 a year ago, which has a Pentium D, but my colleague has a 390 as of a few months ago and AFAIK they come the D2D as standard.
     
  16. Fozzy

    Fozzy What's a Dremel?

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    Maybe this was already said but back in the 6800 days people would bios flash to the quadro bios when benching because it gave them better numbers. I would think that means they they have their programs written differently to maximize their performance with cad and graphics crunching. In video games all of this has to look good too so maybe that's the difference. That's about all I know though.
     
  17. Pointy Burdz

    Pointy Burdz What's a Dremel?

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    fair enuff, I wasn't 100% sure as we have bought our last 4 precisions from Euro PC/Dell Outlet, so I dont go through the dell web configurator anymore, as you know cosmetically the 380 and 390's look pretty much identical externally, but I suppose thats the main reason they changed the number from 380 to 390 :)
     
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