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Building new PC...


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#1 supesfan   Members   -  Reputation: 226

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Posted 28 March 2014 - 06:00 PM

Hi, I was not sure if this belonged here or not, but I was not sure where else to post it. I am buying some new parts to build a PC. My reason for asking is because my main use of this PC will be for designing a game. Thing is I am not sure what type of video card to buy. Should I be getting one of AMD's Firepro series cards, or Nvidia's Quadro series? They are both primed for content creation? Or do you think your average gaming card will do? Also, do you think I should take advantage of crossfire/SLI or will one powerhouse card will do the job just fine?

To give you an idea of exactly what I will be doing, I will be developing 3D models, Landscapes and animation. I am actually purchasing my own hardware for Motion Capture.

So based on those things, what type of GPU should I aim for?

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#2 Ravyne   GDNet+   -  Reputation: 7410

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Posted 28 March 2014 - 06:19 PM

Firepro and similar workstation-class cards are built on the same hardware as their gaming bretheren for the most part -- The two big things they offer are die-hard support for professional applications (when something doesn't work in e.g. Maya, it gets fixed fast), and drivers tuned for professional applications and stability, rather than entertainment applications and performance. Sometimes the pro cards enable some additional features -- nowadays that tends to be greater double-precisions support, sometimes ECC memory or larger framebuffers. It used to be things like hardware GL clip-planes in the past.

 

That's basically it -- don't make a spendy purchase on the assumption that higher cost must mean better performance.

 

If you're paying an artist 60K+ per year, it makes sense to spend the extra money to make sure they don't have any downtime or buggy drivers causing them grief. If you're not in that situation and you don't need the additional support, consumer-oriented cards are essentially just as good.



#3 Matias Goldberg   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3400

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Posted 28 March 2014 - 09:47 PM

nowadays that tends to be greater double-precisions support, sometimes ECC memory or larger framebuffers. It used to be things like hardware GL clip-planes in the past.

Indeed. None of these features are "killer features" for designing a regular game.
To add to that list, perhaps the major difference between the Fire/Quadro vs Radeon/GeForce is that the GPU to CPU readback may not be as efficient when it comes to mixing GUI + 3D and raypicking using the Z Buffer. Both features commonly used by modeling products, but rarely by games. However as Direct2D is more standard for UI, Linux uses OpenGL for rendering the UI, and some GPGPU applications need powerful CPU to GPU; the gap is getting smaller.

Nvidia is quite unfamous for soft downgrading or throttling their tech. Particularly the GeForce 4xx series had a HW flaw where CPU to GPU readback was extremely slow, causing most 3D modelling packages (Maya, Max, Blender; and even some games) to slowdown so bad you end up with a crappy GPU that is outperformed by an old GeForce 8xxx series. The Quadro sister series however, did not suffer this flaw.

My recommendation is that if you go for regular consumer cards(*), first Google on Maya/Blender forums for that card model + "performance problems" or similar keywords, to see other people's experiences and avoid surprises.

(*) Personally, I would go for regular consumer cards.

Edit: Forgot to say, (like Ravyne already mentioned) Quadro/Fire are tuned for quality. This means "fast hacks" are disabled, and you get high quality texture filtering (i.e. Anisotropic) instead of getting blurry stuff. If you're an extremely talented artist, it may matter to you; but for most, it doesn't. Other quality differences may come in the RAMDAC (RAM Digital Analog Converter) in case you still use VGA or other analog output. A high quality ramdac is very important if you're doing professional video editing (with expensive equipment). Again this isn't your case. Besides, if you're planning on using an HDMI or DVI cable, this doesn't even matter to you.

Edited by Matias Goldberg, 28 March 2014 - 09:54 PM.


#4 supesfan   Members   -  Reputation: 226

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Posted 29 March 2014 - 10:27 AM

Alright thanks for the tips. I am still shopping around for the right card. So far it seems there are better options than the Quadro and Firepro Series in gaming cards anyways.

#5 Godmil   Members   -  Reputation: 744

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Posted 29 March 2014 - 01:36 PM

I use a quadro at work, and when I found out the price of it I told my company never to buy them again.as a 3D artist I would much preferred that money spent on the CPU.



#6 TheChubu   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 4358

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Posted 29 March 2014 - 08:31 PM

Quadro/Fire are tuned for quality. This means "fast hacks" are disabled, and you get high quality texture filtering (i.e. Anisotropic) instead of getting blurry stuff.

At least in the driver side, you can edit a few files and get Quadro drivers install on regular hardware. No one ever noticed an IQ difference though (and whoever says he did, either he is talking about a 10 year old test or he is lying).


Edited by TheChubu, 29 March 2014 - 08:39 PM.

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#7 RobTheBloke   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2342

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Posted 31 March 2014 - 10:30 AM

 

Quadro/Fire are tuned for quality. This means "fast hacks" are disabled, and you get high quality texture filtering (i.e. Anisotropic) instead of getting blurry stuff.

At least in the driver side, you can edit a few files and get Quadro drivers install on regular hardware. No one ever noticed an IQ difference though (and whoever says he did, either he is talking about a 10 year old test or he is lying).

 

 

That's not strictly true. OpenGL hardware overlay planes were only ever supported in the Quadro line. Some apps (like Maya) can still utilise those if you write custom 3D tools via MPxContext (for large scale VFX scenes, HW overlays are very useful indeed from a performance POV). It's no lie to say that you'll still see a performance improvement in Maya (because it's main viewport is effectively built on 15 year old code). Whilst it's true that you would effectively do that using FBO's these days, that doesn't mean that the major DCC packages are actually doing that! (Most DCC packages see backwards compatibility for plug-ins as a very high priority)

The quadros also come in handy when computing HW VFX such as paint FX, particles, etc (the Maya profile in the  drivers ensure your HW VFX renders would come out exactly the same on any Quadro variant - unlike the Geforce series - which are largely tuned for performance, and so tiny variations do exist). I will concede however, that film VFX is pretty much the only place where I've ever seen any of the quadro features being used in anger (frame to frame coherence is pretty important when you are distributing a render across 2000 machines!). Mind you, the last quadro card I used (IIRC, an FX5800) ignited under my desk after a year of use, so it's not as though the greater cost implies you'll be getting a better product! The only reason you'd pay for a quadro is if you needed a hotline to NVidia to bitch about the fact that you are seeing a discrepancy of 0.000000001% in a computation on two differing quadro cards. For everyone else, the geforces/radeons are a better bet.






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