A common question that we get regarding CAD workstations is the requirement for a professional grade graphics card, such as an Nvidia Quadro or AMD FirePro. Should an engineer be using a GeForce or Radeon? Both of these companies offer consumer-grade graphics cards in their GeForce and Radeon line-up that are significantly less expensive than their professional line-up. CAD workstations can be costly, and so it is important to understand which items to focus on.
So what’s the deal? Quadro or GeForce?
The deal is that the professional graphics cards are made for graphics intensive programs such as 3D/2D CAD and Illustration software. If you’re using SolidWorks, AutoCAD, Inventor, SolidEdge, ProEngineer, Illustrator, or Photoshop, then Nvidia and AMD are creating graphics cards just for you. The lower cost Quadro and Radeon cards are typically designed for video gaming. The GeForce vs Quadro debate seems to be a very popular topic among computer enthusiasts. We’ve tested both and have come up with some simple conclusions.
Let’s quickly compare the pros and cons of using a professional workstation grade card:
- Direct support from your software provider
- Performance oriented drivers for your specific application
- Lower frequency of crashes and bugs
- Allows full use of your software’s features, such as RealView in SolidWorks
- Lower long-term support costs
- Higher up-front costs
- Less raw performance per dollar than the consumer counterpart
If you’re concerned about productivity, a professional graphics card such as the Quadro is the clear choice.
The good thing about CAD software, SolidWorks in particular- a top of the line graphics card is not necessary. Often an entry or mid level professional graphics card is more than ample for you to enjoy great frame rates and excellent visual quality, with reduced glitches. We recommend putting your money towards a multi core and high thread performance processor to get the most out of your system.
If you often have a lot of drawings and multiple views open, we recommend Intel processors with 6 cores and 12 logical threads. If you’re mainly working in model view, then a 4 core processor is ample. In any case, opt for the highest thread performance possible.
Our current recommended cards:
For most Solidworks, Fusion360, and other CAD software workloads, we recommend the Quadro P1000. This is a good mid level card that will provide excellent quality 3D graphics, and support multiple drawing views.
For CAD stations that will be doing a large amount of rendering, such as creating animated videos or product “fly-through’s” we recommend a more powerful card:
TAP Tech services clients throughout the Fairfield county, Litchfield county, and New Haven county areas in CT. We have clients in and around Danbury, Fairfield, Newtown, Westport, Norwalk, Newtown, and Georgetown… just to name a few! We offer a complete range of business computer and IT services, from network and WiFi installations to complete outsourced “IT guy” services.