View Full Version : A New GPU...

02-08-2011, 02:17 PM
I should have asked this question a long time ago.

I'm getting closer to buying another video card and am wondering: Eyeing Quadros and/or GeForce cards I'd like to know if the appearance of
any render from any card visibly improves the higher up you go or are they just pretty much the same. I'd think they would improve as you
check the snapshots (and animations) of various models as you move up the scale. I know they are faster but is the image quality better?

02-08-2011, 11:20 PM

My Mac Mini onboard graphics is just as good as my 8600 & GTX280 & 260. The Mini will run a 30” screen perfectly ok.

The top end cards help when you have a lot of polys being moved around the view ports.


02-10-2011, 01:40 PM
I just upgraded from an ATI 4750 to an Nvidia 560Ti, and i don't see a massive improvement for a LOT of things in light until i hit the higher poly threshold.. then its a marked difference. I was planning on getting a quadro card but after some reasearch (and thanks to fellow lw'ers on this board) i voted against it.

Really happy w/this card... it has enough power to deal w/most of my day to day and didn't cost me an arm and a leg.

BTW i've overclocked it per a post i saw on bluesnews (can dig it up if ur interested) that gets it closer to a 570 in core speed. Didn't see much if any of an improvement.

02-10-2011, 08:50 PM
JonW and bpritchard, that PassMark site has enlightened me to reconsider my own personal objectives regarding any video card. Thank you. I was thinking of getting one
of the higher-end quadros like the 5800 or maybe even a pre-purchase of nVidia's yet-to-be released Quadro Plex 7000. Both of you can see
where I was at here. I mean they're tabs reach up into the $3000. I don't want to start to be just throwing things "right out the window".

The gtx 580 Fermi is around $500 and has my eye. But others too. I like the "new" gtx 560 Ti Fermi for around $250. I not a gamer but the only question that
that comes to mind is are its "stills" left uncompromised from designs for speed? If there is any noticeable 'noise' I might wind up being disappointed.
I am under the impression that the quadros are for different applications, which includes 'stills'. If I do get a GeForce it would be between the one
you have, the 560, or the 580. A Quadro? ... I'm looking at the 5000.

Oh, here are my PassMarked computer benchmark results:

02-11-2011, 12:24 AM
Lightwave doesn't use the GPU to generate or assist in renders. It's all done by the CPU so your video card shouldn't have any effect on output quality.

Even in the areas where the GPU does make a difference, namely the Open GL Previews, you shouldn't see a quality difference unless there are certain Open GL features/functions that a particular graphics chip doesn't support. You shouldn't run into that problem with the cards you are looking at.

02-11-2011, 12:59 AM
If you have the desperate need to spend some money get a SSD. This will make a bigger difference than an expensive graphics card.

02-11-2011, 09:12 AM
Agreed on all counts... the gpu will ONLY help w/viewport in layout. So things like texture memory and general gpu speed will help but its its a diminishing curve between the midline and the high end consumer level cards. The 580 is indeed a fantastic card but i don't think you will get 2x the power out of the 2x cost from the 560. Even give a look at the 570... its between the 2.

The Quadro cards, as noted, only help things like Maya and Max where they have special drivers built to handle viewport functions not in things like lightwave or messiah or whatnot. So you'll really be spending a LOT of money for NO noticeable difference... the quadro chips are basically using the older gen 4series gpu.

Outside of that... an SSD would make a monumental difference in render speeds as it really lowers the read/write speeds of your drives. And memory.. the more the merrier.

02-11-2011, 02:42 PM
I thank all of you for responding with this important info. If I do choose to buy another vidcard I'll check for it on that PassMark site. But the main thing is I am going to purchase a Solid State Drive so I can see some real results.

Your replies are a valuable set of facts and should be known by all rather than for some to be left being vulnerable to wastefulness.

Wow ... I'm really glad I asked.

02-13-2011, 05:24 PM
Might be that the best of my memory has got an SSD as being a type of storage device that can ...sort of... behave as a nonvolatile cache,
holding specific data at the ready to be used sometime later. Something like an HDD but without the moving parts.
Does any reader here have an ssd besides those in laptops? I went to Fry's Electronics and the clerk I spoke with first didn't know what
I was talking about. Fortunately a different clerk knew and took me right to them, with 'them' located right next to the prior clerk's station.
This 2nd clerk did mention that SSDs are not in demand and that they are quite expensive. But I do need to determine, whether or not, this quest is really necessary. Most likely not.

02-13-2011, 07:36 PM
At this point of time something interesting is happening: Nvidia crippled their latest two lines of consumer vid cards quite a bit to push their workstation vid cards.

I bought a gtx480 thinking it would be a grand improvement over the 280 for viewport navigation. Turned out, that was a massive mistake: the opengl performance was completely abysmal in certain 3d apps (not all). Lightwave/Modo/Cinema4d did not seem to be affected that much, but others (Max, Maya, Blender) were/are.

Traditionally Nvidia consumer cards used to be the best choice for anyone running 3d applications, but currently that is only true for their highly expensive workstation cards... I switched the 480 for an ati 5870, and soft-modded it to a Firepro v8800 (about $300 total cost). Most people state it does not matter, and you need specialized drivers for Max and Maya to really benefit from a workstation card's drivers - however, I have to disagree a bit: the opengl drivers are better across the board, and may help a lot. "MAY" is the keyword here. For example, I can sculpt at 80 million polys in Blender, and it runs smooth. Twice as much as that is even possible, albit patchy. The 280 would choke at much, much less than that, even crash. The 480: let's not go there. Just terrible - worse than a 9800.

And the Messiah interface (trial) generally runs very smooth now, while I had huge problems with that in the past. For anyone running Cinema4d any ATI card is a no-brainer: it just blows Nvidia out of the water. Just check their Cinebench scores (http://www.cbscores.com/index.php?sort=ogl&order=desc).

What I am trying to say here, is: it depends on the applications you use and how you use them what the best upgrade path would be for you, and how to spend your money. If you have to model/work with high poly scenes a lot, a high-end vid card could make you much more productive. Same for 3d character animation - I want it as real-time as it can get, and that depends on the general speed of the cpu, as well as the opengl speed. And obviously, for any cuda rendering a Nvidia card may have a tremendous impact on lowering your rendering times. Or when you use 3dcoat. Not in Lightwave, though!

As far as SSD's go: your mileage may vary. More internal ram may speed up things more, depending on how much you now have installed. If you cannot load your entire scene in memory, performance will stall - a lot. My last render took up 8gb of the 12 installed. Should I hit the ceiling someday, I will just add more internal memory.

Oh, before I forget: a hybrid ssd/hdd seagate drive may help as well, especially for boot times and general 'snappiness'. My wife's laptop now boots in about 40secs, before about 4 minutes. It did have a crappy 5400rpm drive, though ;-)

So, spend wisely, and check your current requirements. Rendering times? Modeling high poly objects? Animation? Cuda? Etcetera, and so on, and so forth.

02-13-2011, 07:40 PM
One more thing: I have read that SSD owners may need to re-install windows every year, or so, depending on the quality of the SSD to prevent major performance degradation. Perhaps someone here can shed some light on that? What are your experiences with this?

02-13-2011, 07:48 PM
One more thing: I have read that SSD owners may need to re-install windows every year, or so, depending on the quality of the SSD to prevent major performance degradation. Perhaps someone here can shed some light on that?
That was really only a problem with the first gen and is gone with the current ones. It does help to run Win7 though, as that has native trim support (which tells the SSD that a block is not used at all, allowing it to treat it differently).
Oh, and don't defragment it... it doesn't help with performance but does cause more write cycles and those should still be kept relatively low (i.e. no virtual memory or temp files on the SSD). Mind you, that amount of possible write cycles has also increased as the tech progressed.


02-13-2011, 10:58 PM
Thanks, Mike. I have also seen some PCI-card based solutions that are incredibly fast. Still expensive, though.

02-13-2011, 11:42 PM
The 280 would choke at much, much less than that, even crash. The 480: let's not go there. Just terrible - worse than a 9800..

I have a 9800 as well, pulled it out of one of the farm boxes. But it is a very good card.

A SSD is not going to help with rendering, but it will be good for all that boring stuff, like read/writes especially in Modeler which is 1 core. Anything here that speeds things up around the edges is a help.

Sending scenes off to the farm, the network & SN are a bit faster compared to a Velociraptor.

I've got the first model 80gb Intel. The new models are better. Newegg would be a good starting point if your supplier doesn't know what a SSD is.