quadro fx diminishing returns?


How much do the quadro fx series cards differ in performance from entry (540) to high end (5800)? Also in terms or price vs performance which is most worth it? At the moment I am mostly considering the fx1800. Ill be doing high poly modeling, high end rendering, and texturing. Mostly in maya, zbrush, mental ray, and after effects.


Actually we do the same stuff like you, my machine has a GTX260 gfx card with 216SPU´s installed and 48gigs DDR3 1333MHz ECC reg. RAM as triple channel configuration - pretty stable with C4D and Photoshop, never noticed any issues.

If it´s just a question between Quadro vs. Quadro i would say it should be at least a FX 3800 with GT200 Chip. Spending 600$ for an G94 Chip isn´t worth the money anymore (IMO), not since you can get a 9600 GT with the same Chip for 80$ and a GTX285 with GT200 Chip for under 300$.


ZBrush doesn’t use the GPU. You’d really only see an advantage in Maya in large scenes. After Effects GPU filters also prefer gaming cards since they have more bandwidth / clock speed.


I have a Quadro, it’s the biggest waste of money ever. It’s much slower than consumer cards, gets updates far less often, has less stable drivers because gamers tend to be a bit more demanding and are the bigger userbase, thus consumer cards get the real meat. I’ve noticed absolutely zero difference in terms of navigation speed in any app between the quadro and it’s nearest equivalent (a low end consumer card from a few years ago).

Here’s the basics, anything that gives you better results with a quadro is not utilizing any different hardware, because quadros don’t have any different hardware, they’re the same consumer cards but with potentially better quality control and a very minor difference in firmware so that they use a specific software driver, as noted this driver doesn’t improve anything. There is no good reason beyond publisher lockout for quadro to behave better in any application with any setting (sure you get transparency in viewport, yay for the early 90’s, that’s totally not possible to do at all on consumer cards /sarcasm). Dual/quadplanes, yup there on consumer cards, memory? Again consumer cards match these days, workstation cards once upon a time meant better bandwidth and memory that’s just not the case anymore, it’s an artificial market.

Honestly if you want to work with high polycount scenes then your GPU is actually fairly low on the list (unless you don’t want to actually work with them but just fly a camera through them), for all modeling, animating, deforming, and still most rendering tasks you should focus on CPU, RAM, Drives, Motherboard, FSB etc, the components that make the machine itself fast, the GPU will be barely used. For most of those tasks also you’ll find that Maya and others are not very well multithreaded, so multiple cores wont help till you come to rendering (and some forms of simulations). These things will affect your workflow far more than the GPU which only affects the viewport redraw speed and even a cheap one will probably work faster than Maya can to do basic modeling tasks on high density polymeshes, meaning that the slowdown is still going to be CPU etc for actual work there rather than the GPU in most situations.


you’re not right about it only being support and hardware tweaks. There are optimizations that are done in the driver that make the Quadros faster for very simple rendering modes that are typical of CAD (solid shaders, not textured, wireframes, but lots of polygons). This is basically OpenGL 1.3 and below. I’ve reviewed the Quadro 4800 and there is actually a benefit for Maya in these type of scenes. Once you go to Mudbox or any other “modern” GLSL drawing scenario that is basically a game in a 3D app, the Quadros suck. Considering that this type of drawing is the future of 3D programs in general, that doesn’t bode well for Quadros.

But the corners that are cut by gaming drivers to get a little extra speed at the expense of stability for 3D apps (combined with the incredible amount of third party manufacturers) are enough to make them unsupportable for companies like Autodesk. The irony here is that because Apple makes the OpenGL in OS X and there are so few gaming cards on OS X, you get full support for Maya/Mudbox on GTX 285s and Radeons, mobile Geforces etc. on gaming cards in OS X (even though there are no games) where you have to get a Quadro for support on Windows/Linux. The drivers are slower than on Windows but at least there is official support for a $300 video card that performs well in Mudbox. My Radeon 4870 in OS X does GL-based occlusion maps in Mudbox faster than a Quadro 4800 in Vista.

But the Mac Quadro is even worse than the Windows one. It has the same price, no DisplayPort out, and NO DRIVER TWEAKS. It is literally a gimped Geforce card with no advantage other than a 3D output:


It’s borderline class-action lawsuit to sell a $1800 card with drivers that are that bad.


Wow I didnt realize the quadros were so uneconomical in terms of price. What card would be my best bet then? A mid range to high end GTX? Also what does take advantage of a quadro? I keep hearing that this year taken a big jump to GPU computing but is that only in terms of realtime renderes?


GPU computing uses the dedicated compute cores on the card. If you look at that review, there are some GPU benchmarks with CUDA/OpenCL and the Quadro always loses vs the GTX 285 because it has fewer CUDA cores and it’s a slower card. No amount of driver optimization will change that.

The best deal for Windows users is the GTX 260 from what I’m seeing people recommend.


Myself and many other knowledgeable people here will advise you to just pick a geforce card. theyre faster, cheaper and every bit as stable as the quadros. As Per has already mentioned, they are literally the same gfx cards, just with a different label, driver and price tag.

Quadros used to be the top end hardware, which over time trickled down into the consumer range of geforce cards. These days its the exact opposite, nvidia release the fast geforce hardware and a year or so later it migrates its way to the quadro cards. Yet bizarrely they still get away with quadrupling the price. Hey, maybe thats what the quadro name means :wink:

Geforce 260 or 9800 if youre on a budget, 285 if youre not.


I’d also recommend Nvidia cards over ATI strictly based on driver support, especially if you plan on using linux. ATI drivers are still a joke and their open drivers are taking forever to unroll and mature to a point where you’d actually want to use them for production… thouth I hope this will happen soon.

My 2c, good luck.


Yes, GTX260 will do. It is the equivalent to the Quadro FX 3800.
Look for the Zodac with 216 Stream-Processor-Units, it´s the most powerfull GTX260.
A GTX275/285 would be even better for higher display resolution at 1920x1200.


Thanks all, I am so unaware when it comes to the specifics, the 260 is a little more in my price range and I’d rather spend any extra money on the CPU, dual xenon would be nice but it’s looking like i7 is again a little more in my range. Thanks again for the help!


Just want to chime in for AMD (ATI) graphics, as everyone here seems to be only recommending nVidia.

Currently, ATI’s cards are simply better price to performance. That doesn’t look likely to change even with nVidia’s new “Fermi” cards, as they are expected to be huge and run hot (more silicon = more expensive)

A Radeon 5850 or 5870 (or 5770 / 4890 if you’re on a tighter budget, but they’re a step down from the 58xx cards) will both outperform a 285 and 295, for less money.

I can’t speak for linux, but if you use Windows, the drivers are fine, and will only improve. I own a 5770 with Windows 7 x64 and have had no graphics-based errors in Maya 2009.

I also have another older computer with an nVidia 7800GT which had more problems off the bat but I’ve gotten to work essentially flawlessly now. I’m not biased towards either company, but as of right now, you can find a much better deal in a Radeon 4xxx or 5xxx series card.


Yes, I have missed an ATI advice.

In a other machine i use a 4870 2GB running Win XP x64 without driver issues neighter. So Ati 4XXX/5XXX series should be OK as well.


I also can vouch for ATI. I’m using the HD4850 and it is flawless in maya, 3ds 2010, zbrush, etc. Possibly due to Apple using the exact same card for their PC’s, I duno. But it just seems to work, and without problems, for like $99? (Windows 7 64-bit Pro)

I also rarely ever use my GPU, the bottleneck is in my processor an AMD phenom II tri-core. I’d easily recommend this card because its so dirt cheap, plays mass effect 2 perfectly, has no problems in zbrush, and… its cheap. Spend the extra cash on a good Nehalem processor, its much smarter.


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