View Full Version : Dual monitors - Dual Quadro 3400s or Single Quadro 4500?

10 October 2005, 08:43 PM
I'm going to be ordering a new rig in the next month or so (perhaps sooner) and have everything lined up but the graphics solution and the amount of RAM. This is a system that has been a long time coming. I'm going to be throwing some hard earned $$ at it and want to make intelligent decisions but I've had some trouble finding clear info in the two areas mentioned above.

Basic system:
Dual Opteron 280s
Quadro based graphics
SATA drives
Windows XP Pro

The first question revolves around graphics cards... I've already ordered two Dell 2005FPW monitors. I can purchase two Quadro 3400s or one Quadro 4500 for about the same price (Dual 4500s stomps my budget). Since both my monitors will be running at 1680x1050 which of the two solutions would be better and why? I'll be running various 3D apps including XSI and Maya, along with Photoshop, After Effects, ZBrush - the usual suspects.

Memory also has me stumped. I'm going to be running XP Pro initially because of driver issues with my printer, scanner (I checked with HP and Canon - no drivers for either) - possibly router - blah, blah. The machine has to be a do-it-all... including internet, scanning and printing and x64 just seems like more headache than I'm ready for.

So with this in mind, how much memory will XP Pro support? From what I've read, 4GB seems to be the max. Is there any need/benefit to loading up on more without x64?

Many thanks.

10 October 2005, 09:49 PM
32 bit Windows does not support more than 4GB of memory (initially). This is the maximum limit of 32bit OSs. You can get it to support more in a sort of paging kind of way, known as PAE, but it really is not very efficient when it comes down to it though. Also at 4GB, the motherboard will tend to reserve some ram to PCI/PCIe functions, so you end up with less RAM available to the system. This can be played with in the BIOS. All in all, the sweet spot for a 32bit windows install seems to be around 3GB total.

As for 64bit Windows. I have not run into too much trouble. Though, it is true that alot of printers lack support because other companies are too slow to pick up the slack (*cough cannon*cough*). Your router should work fine, it does not really have anythign to do with what OS you run, so long as it supports TCP/IP, UDP, etc. protocols and DHCP. If you go for the K8WE, it has full support in Windows, so you should be able to get your network, SATA, and everything else on the board working just fine. Its those odd random other hardware that may be somewhat left out in the cold (printers scanners and tablets for exmple).

Otherwise its a good OS in my opinion :)

For the video cards, I have no real opinion. Personally I'd shoot for a 7800GTX and save the cash. But my 3D app of choice does not utilize pro cards :) (though we'll see in the winter when the next version comes out...)

10 October 2005, 03:32 AM
Thanks Lots - that's all good info. I'm pretty serious about purchasing from Boxx this time around so I'll be picking their brains as well before laying down the cash. I've already chatted (online) with one of their sales people (great folks so far - like the way they do business) and it was suggested that the 4500 was the way to go for the card but I'm hoping for more input here. I haven't run dual monitors since back in the day when Apian and Number 9 where the only ones making cards for it - so, it's been awhile. ;-)

I hear what you're saying about the OS - my solution at this point is to go with XP Pro and perhaps upgrade to x64 in another year or so. Hopefully more folks will be on board at that point (*cough* Canon *cough*). A tiny speed boost at that point will be welcome I'm sure... so it'll give me something to look forward to. I mean, really, who doesn't look forward to a fresh install of their OS? :-/

Thanks again. Cheers.

Ed Caracappa
10 October 2005, 12:30 PM

the 4500 is spendy but, an awesome card. I just put a 4500 in my machine the other day (was running an 3400) driving my 2 1680 x 1050 monitors and I love it.

if you're going to run 32bit XP then go with 3gb of memory. you'll see about 2.73GB of it since the graphics card allocates some of the physical memory space.

have fun! you'll love this machine...


10 October 2005, 04:10 PM
Thanks Ed.

It's always great to hear from someone with first hand experience. Let me ask you though... you replaced a single 3400 with a 4500, that seems a no-brainer. What I'm curious about is how the performance of two 3400s would stack up against a single 4500.

I know the 4500 is more powerful but having to drive two screens seems like it would really hurt the card's 3D performance. While the 3400 is a lesser card on its own, having one for each monitor seems like it would level the field and the cost of two 3400s is comparable to a single 4500.

...and thanks for the info on the memory... That's almost enough to make me consider trying for x64. With essentially four processors in this machine having a little over 2.5GB available seems like it could get tight pretty quick.


Ed Caracappa
10 October 2005, 05:35 PM

I don't have any hard data for you on the 2 3400 vs 1 4500. I can tell you from personal experience that I have yet to throw anything from Maya or Photoshop at the 4500 that is can't handle. I'm sorry I don't have a better answer for you.

There is a great (and very talented) guy here on cgtalk who's name is Dimitris Liatsos. I just helped him get his hands on two FX4500s. Not sure what he was running before but, perhaps you can PM him and find out what he things about the performance. At least you'll have an independent 3rd party opinion.


10 October 2005, 05:41 PM
I ran Maya and XSI on dual Dell 2001 fp's 1600 x 1200 res with no problem whatsoever on a single quadro 900 xgl. I would save the money and go with Gf 7800 GTX. Its a wonderful card and blazing fast in all applications. The latest drivers from nvidia are pretty stable too havent had a single problem in any app I use.

I am on Xp64 also. If your applications are 32 bit i'd go with the 32 bit version of xp , i havent had any problems with maya\ps\vegas and zbrush but XSI is very glitchy on xp64 (the 32 bit versions havent tried the 64 bit versions)

Hope this helps.

10 October 2005, 05:59 PM
Thanks again Ed, Sheep,

I've spent a bit more time digging into all this and I'm definitely going to stick with XP Pro for now. I'll switch to x64 when it's more mainstream. Compatibility is just too big an issue for me right now and I'm not ready to buy a new scanner and printer just to get my hands on the new OS.

The memory thing is still pretty interesting. A lot of vague information out there regarding performance under XP with 3GB vs. 4GB. The 'ol /3 switch in the boot.ini to allow apps to access larger amounts of RAM seems like it can cause some stability issues... at least according to one post I read. Also, I see some folks report using 4GB just fine and having it all available and another post stating that as of SP2 the system grabs 1.5GB for system resources - whereas if you simply install 3GB... it's all available.

I'll continue to look into the video card issue but for now I'm leaning toward the single 4500 since if performance is still good... it will consume less power, produce less heat and probably less noise than two 3400s.

Thanks all for your help!

CGTalk Moderation
10 October 2005, 05:59 PM
This thread has been automatically closed as it remained inactive for 12 months. If you wish to continue the discussion, please create a new thread in the appropriate forum.