he debate regarding the difference between workstation graphics cards Vs gaming graphics cards has been on going for some time and in all seriousness the consequences of running Cad software applications on a gaming card can be pretty costly to a business, as portrayed in the real life scenario outlined on the workstation graphics cards page. So in reality this question should never really be up for debate, but unfortunately it crops up time and time again.
In one online forum an IT professional started a post asking the difference as he needs to build a machine for a client running high end 3D modelling software and a selection of visualisation applications. The post goes on to highlight the difference in cost between the workstation graphics card and the gaming card with a justification of saving a £65.
This is a typical of a misunderstanding of the importance of the graphics card. The software investment alone amounts to in excess of 6k and yet the IT guy suggested a sub £100 cad graphics card in the first instance which in all probability will not meet the clients requirements.
And secondly having made a serious investment in the software the company concerned are trying to run this suite of software on what is a essentially low end budget clone computer as opposed to a Cad workstation. You can already guess at some of the support issues that the company will face as they have either not been properly advised by the software vendor, or the buyer as a non expert is relying on the IT guy who has no experience with CAD applications. So without further ado let's look at some of the differences.
The first real difference between a workstation graphics card and a gaming graphics card is the software applications they have been configured or designed to run. They are in fact aimed at two totally different markets with entirely different needs.
In the first instance you have games. These typically cost no more than £40 or so. Gaming technology has come a long way in recent years and some games have been developed to take greater advantage of graphics technology, but in principle the cards and software drivers are tweaked to deliver maximum performance for GAMES.
Games tend to consist of low polygon count geometry and in many cases pre defined textures and bitmaps. On screen effects can be tweaked in options but are dependent of the power of the graphics card (the better the card the better the graphics). High on the list of priorities for a good gaming graphics card are good quality visuals, fast loading (hence the low polygon count) and a fast smooth frame rate. Typical price range for a games card would be circa £45-£600.
Cad applications typically cost between £1000 to in excess of £10,000 per license. Cad applications need workstation graphics cards that can manipulate complex geometry that could be in excess of a billion triangles. They need to be able to deal with real world real size geometry that could include bridges, skyscrapers or a jumbo jet for example.
They need to be able to produce geometry that can be measured to many decimal places in anything from microns to miles. Getting it wrong could result in product recalls or even failure for example. At a higher level some Cad applications require workstation graphics cards where the graphics card utilise GPU computing. That is when the workstation graphics card actually performs more calculations than the workstations actual processor(s) themselves.
Workstation graphics cards and their specialised graphics software drivers are typically designed and configured to deliver anything up to 5x faster performance, computational data integrity and accuracy and up to 8x faster computational simulation for a broad spectrum of design, animation and video software applications. Typically depending on the particular software requirements workstation graphics cards are priced at circa £150-£5000.
Cad graphics cards can seem to be expensive but in the main most Cad workstations and application would only require one in the lower quartile of the potential price spread. But that said, hopefully you can now understand that the question of workstation graphics cards Vs gaming graphics cards for your cad workstation should never be asked. If you have spent thousands on Cad software for your business, it makes business sense to ensure it runs on a decent cad workstation with a recommended workstation graphics card.
To discuss your cad workstation or workstation graphics card requirements please give us a call on 023 8086 8947