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View Full Version : Please help--I need graphics card advice!



DanHuff
01-17-2006, 08:22 PM
It's been my appointed task to configure a fairly potent Lightwave system at work and I would really appreciate some advice.

Currently I've got the new system configured with two AMD Opteron 270 dual-core processors, a decent motherboard, 2 Gigs of RAM, and the usual stuff making up a decent PC, but I'm unsure of which graphics card to use. Money IS an object but I have to make it a little better than the Quad Macs in use currently, with Quadro FX4500 cards.

My main question is: Are the FX4500 Quadros really THAT much better($12-1300) than, say, a GeForce 7800GTX or an ATI Radeon of similar performance? Also to be considered would be a 3DLabs Realism 500, but it's only 256MB instead of 512, or a Realism 800, at 640MB. Since the recent batch of dual processor motherboards only support PCI Express and not AGP, that leaves out the Realism 200, with 512MB.

Most of our work is single frame renderings, with the occasional animation, but we're working with rather high-poly objects, and have to do lots of test renders to sort out lighting issues.

Any advice would be GREATLY appreciated!

AbnRanger
01-17-2006, 11:41 PM
Since money IS an issue, the performance difference between a QuadroFX card and its consumer twin is extremely negligible (hardware is the same). Go the Nvidia 7800GTX (512MB) route or ATI X1800, and you won't be sorry. With the chunk of money you save, why not slap as much RAM in, as will fit (with a dual processor MB, they are usually between 8-32GB)?...ESPECIALLY since you said you'd be working with high poly scenes. 2GB is rather paltry for a dual-core/dual processor setup. Each CPU has it's own memory bank and having only 512MB/CPU will severely hamstring your system's overall performance. The 270 series Opterons are DUAL-CORES, which are 2 physical processors fused into one dye....so you have a Corvette, figuratively speaking, with Nissan Sentra wheels...if you stick w/ only 2GB of RAM.
Having a speedy card certainly helps speed up what you see on the Monitor, but RAM has a bigger impact overall.

mattclary
01-18-2006, 06:59 AM
Stick with nVidia cards.

DanHuff
01-18-2006, 04:52 PM
Thank you very much for the excellent reply, AbnRanger :thumbsup:

I'm going to have to try to get at least 4GB RAM in this machine.


Since money IS an issue, the performance difference between a QuadroFX card and its consumer twin is extremely negligible (hardware is the same). Go the Nvidia 7800GTX (512MB) route or ATI X1800, and you won't be sorry. With the chunk of money you save, why not slap as much RAM in, as will fit (with a dual processor MB, they are usually between 8-32GB)?...ESPECIALLY since you said you'd be working with high poly scenes. 2GB is rather paltry for a dual-core/dual processor setup. Each CPU has it's own memory bank and having only 512MB/CPU will severely hamstring your system's overall performance. The 270 series Opterons are DUAL-CORES, which are 2 physical processors fused into one dye....so you have a Corvette, figuratively speaking, with Nissan Sentra wheels...if you stick w/ only 2GB of RAM.
Having a speedy card certainly helps speed up what you see on the Monitor, but RAM has a bigger impact overall.

Verlon
01-18-2006, 08:08 PM
What Matt said.....

Stick with nVidia. Better openGL, better driver support.

Not sure on the 7 series cards (or how willing you are to do this), but there is a way to convert the consumer cards to the workstaion ones because they are the same hardware.

A little bt of google will get you there if you want to try it.

mattclary
01-19-2006, 05:24 AM
Not sure on the 7 series cards (or how willing you are to do this), but there is a way to convert the consumer cards to the workstaion ones because they are the same hardware.


Yeah, I have heard you can't convert the 7xxx cards, but you should search. As LW stands right now, it wouldn't buy you much anyway. I Softquadroed a card a long time ago and could never tell the difference due to LW not utilizing OpenGL to it's fullest.

All that may change since they are supposedly suping up the OpenGL in 9, but a Quadro may still not gain you much if they don't use the APIs that it has available.

StereoMike
01-19-2006, 02:50 PM
If you're interested in some more info about softmodding, have a look at this thread:
http://www.newtek.com/forums/showthread.php?t=42662&page=1&pp=15

There's plenty of benchmarks and the like, just browse thru the pages.

Mike

DanHuff
01-23-2006, 03:50 PM
Thank you for the info and links. Plenty there to digest :D

lots
01-23-2006, 04:00 PM
You wont be able to soft mod the newer revisions of the 6 series geforces, nor will you be able to mod the 7 series cards.

Bitboy
01-23-2006, 10:58 PM
I have got a GeForce 6800 Ultra here that is softmod'ed to a QuadroFX 4000. And I've also heard that it's possible with the 7xxx series. But then I haven't tried it myself so...

StereoMike
01-24-2006, 12:46 AM
I bought one of the last available 6800gt around here (PCI-e) and it thinks it's a quadro now...(plenty of info in named thread e.g. benchmarks)

Nearly all 6800gt and Ultra should work. I had a a little fuss with getting the application profiles to work, but besides this it was just some mouseclicks.

Rivatuner works by setting some bits during systemboot, but 7800gtx and the cards after won't allow this setting via software. To my understanding you would need direct access to some place below the actual GPU to enable full performance. So perhaps it is possible in theory, but who wants to rip off the GPU?

Mike