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Windows 7: What's better: VRAM or GPU Speed?

15 Jan 2013   #1
TVeblen

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 64 Bit Home Premium SP1
 
 
What's better: VRAM or GPU Speed?

I'm looking at getting a new graphics card. I have set a budget of about $250 US. And I like nVidia.

So that puts me in the GTX660 class of cards, pretty much.

Now for that budget I see there are cards that have more VRAM - 3GB vs 2GB,
or they have a slightly faster GPU speed and a faster shader clock.
All the other specs remain the same for all cards in this class. But to get both it looks like I need to bump up to the Ti version and a $280+ budget.

What do you think is the best bang for the buck? How important is any of this - or is it just splitting hairs?
My primary application is CAD work using AutoCAD. Occasional gaming but nothing serious.

TIA for any comments or advice.


My System SpecsSystem Spec
.
15 Jan 2013   #2
bobkn

Windows 7 Pro X64 SP1
 
 

Autodesk posts a list of recommended cards for AutoCAD:

Autodesk - AutoCAD Services & Support - Find Recommended Hardware

None of the cards are desktop (gaming) cards. At www.newegg.com, professional graphics cards range from about $100 to $3660 for a 6GB nVidia Quadro 6000.

I wish that I could tell you how a $250 professional card compares to a $250 desktop card. (The pro cards look much inferior.)
My System SpecsSystem Spec
16 Jan 2013   #3
Cancerous

Windows 7 Professional 32bit
 
 

Faster speeds > more VRAM Didn't see it was for CAD, go for more VRAM.

What I usually do is go to a hardware website (pcpartpicker.com is what I use because it gets the best price for me), find a few in my price range, then go to videocardbenchmark.net and compare them.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
.

16 Jan 2013   #4
TVeblen

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 64 Bit Home Premium SP1
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by bobkn View Post
Autodesk posts a list of recommended cards for AutoCAD:

Autodesk - AutoCAD Services & Support - Find Recommended Hardware

None of the cards are desktop (gaming) cards. At www.newegg.com, professional graphics cards range from about $100 to $3660 for a 6GB nVidia Quadro 6000.

I wish that I could tell you how a $250 professional card compares to a $250 desktop card. (The pro cards look much inferior.)
Thanks for that Bobkn.

I've been running AutoCad for about 18 years and they have always had only Quadro cards in their recommended list. And I have never used one. If this were a dedicated workstation that might make sense, but it is a multi-use machine so the decision is different. All of the consumer grade gaming cards I have used over the years have worked 'sufficiently' with each version of AutoCad. I don't complain about the annoying lags that occur from time to time using dynamic controls. My current GTX260+ runs it fairly well.

There is little difference between the hardware on an nVidia gaming card and a Quadro. They use the same engines. It is the driver that seperate them. For Quadro cards it is all about OpenGL. The Quadro driver also unlocks features built into any nVidia video engine. I don't remember all the details, this issue was finalized in my mind too long ago!

Things are changing also. I have read recently that Autodesk was moving towards using DirectX as their graphics platform (about time!), rather than the in-house platform - which I think it is called "Inventor". So I'm not sure about the future of these ridiculously priced cards, at least for AutoCad.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
16 Jan 2013   #5
TVeblen

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 64 Bit Home Premium SP1
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Cancerous View Post
Faster speeds > more VRAM Didn't see it was for CAD, go for more VRAM.

What I usually do is go to a hardware website (pcpartpicker.com is what I use because it gets the best price for me), find a few in my price range, then go to videocardbenchmark.net and compare them.
Thanks for that info Cancerous.
I suspected that VRAM was more important, but I was looking for confirmation. Thanks.
I will try videobenchmark. Hadn't seen that one before.

So, for gaming, faster speeds are more important that the amount of VRAM?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
16 Jan 2013   #6
Cancerous

Windows 7 Professional 32bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by TVeblen View Post
Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Cancerous View Post
Faster speeds > more VRAM Didn't see it was for CAD, go for more VRAM.

What I usually do is go to a hardware website (pcpartpicker.com is what I use because it gets the best price for me), find a few in my price range, then go to videocardbenchmark.net and compare them.
Thanks for that info Cancerous.
I suspected that VRAM was more important, but I was looking for confirmation. Thanks.
I will try videobenchmark. Hadn't seen that one before.

So, for gaming, faster speeds are more important that the amount of VRAM?
If you're using something with large textures, go for VRAM.
If it's got a lot of polygons, go for Clock speeds.

Still, it's important to look at benchmarks.
www.videocardbenchmarks.com
My System SpecsSystem Spec
16 Jan 2013   #7
bobkn

Windows 7 Pro X64 SP1
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by TVeblen View Post
Thanks for that Bobkn.

I've been running AutoCad for about 18 years and they have always had only Quadro cards in their recommended list. And I have never used one. If this were a dedicated workstation that might make sense, but it is a multi-use machine so the decision is different. All of the consumer grade gaming cards I have used over the years have worked 'sufficiently' with each version of AutoCad. I don't complain about the annoying lags that occur from time to time using dynamic controls. My current GTX260+ runs it fairly well.

There is little difference between the hardware on an nVidia gaming card and a Quadro. They use the same engines. It is the driver that seperate them. For Quadro cards it is all about OpenGL. The Quadro driver also unlocks features built into any nVidia video engine. I don't remember all the details, this issue was finalized in my mind too long ago!

Things are changing also. I have read recently that Autodesk was moving towards using DirectX as their graphics platform (about time!), rather than the in-house platform - which I think it is called "Inventor". So I'm not sure about the future of these ridiculously priced cards, at least for AutoCad.
Yeah. I recall hacked drivers ("softmods") that saw desktop cards as Quadros. I don't recall seeing anything like that for the more recent cards.

As regards small variations in clock speeds in, say, the 660 cards, I think they don't matter much. If you're willing to overclock a reference card a little, you can probably equal the out-of-the-box settings for most of the factory overclocked cards. (Water cooled cards are different animals, though. Irrelevant to most of us.)

Looks like a 3GB 660 is about $260 (www.newegg.com). A 3GB 660ti, $320. Whether the extra CUDA cores in the 660ti would justify the extra $60 (breaking your budget), I can't guess.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
16 Jan 2013   #8
TVeblen

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 64 Bit Home Premium SP1
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Cancerous View Post
Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by TVeblen View Post
Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Cancerous View Post
Faster speeds > more VRAM Didn't see it was for CAD, go for more VRAM.

What I usually do is go to a hardware website (pcpartpicker.com is what I use because it gets the best price for me), find a few in my price range, then go to videocardbenchmark.net and compare them.
Thanks for that info Cancerous.
I suspected that VRAM was more important, but I was looking for confirmation. Thanks.
I will try videobenchmark. Hadn't seen that one before.

So, for gaming, faster speeds are more important that the amount of VRAM?
If you're using something with large textures, go for VRAM.
If it's got a lot of polygons, go for Clock speeds.

Still, it's important to look at benchmarks.
www.videocardbenchmarks.com

Yes, I looked at that, but it only compares different video engines. I did not see an option to compare the performance of a GTX660 with 2GB of RAM to a GTX660 with 3GB of RAM, let alone any differences in GPU speed. It just tells me a GTX660 is better than a GTX550.

Know of a site that does that level of nit-picking?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
16 Jan 2013   #9
TVeblen

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 64 Bit Home Premium SP1
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by bobkn View Post
Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by TVeblen View Post
Thanks for that Bobkn.

I've been running AutoCad for about 18 years and they have always had only Quadro cards in their recommended list. And I have never used one. If this were a dedicated workstation that might make sense, but it is a multi-use machine so the decision is different. All of the consumer grade gaming cards I have used over the years have worked 'sufficiently' with each version of AutoCad. I don't complain about the annoying lags that occur from time to time using dynamic controls. My current GTX260+ runs it fairly well.

There is little difference between the hardware on an nVidia gaming card and a Quadro. They use the same engines. It is the driver that seperate them. For Quadro cards it is all about OpenGL. The Quadro driver also unlocks features built into any nVidia video engine. I don't remember all the details, this issue was finalized in my mind too long ago!

Things are changing also. I have read recently that Autodesk was moving towards using DirectX as their graphics platform (about time!), rather than the in-house platform - which I think it is called "Inventor". So I'm not sure about the future of these ridiculously priced cards, at least for AutoCad.
Yeah. I recall hacked drivers ("softmods") that saw desktop cards as Quadros. I don't recall seeing anything like that for the more recent cards.

As regards small variations in clock speeds in, say, the 660 cards, I think they don't matter much. If you're willing to overclock a reference card a little, you can probably equal the out-of-the-box settings for most of the factory overclocked cards. (Water cooled cards are different animals, though. Irrelevant to most of us.)

Looks like a 3GB 660 is about $260 (www.newegg.com). A 3GB 660ti, $320. Whether the extra CUDA cores in the 660ti would justify the extra $60 (breaking your budget), I can't guess.
CUDA cores are good for playing games, but not so good for doing "work". So I will stay with the GTX660 - it seems to be the best bang for the buck in video cards at present.

Only EVGA has GTX660s with 3GB of RAM (on Newegg). I found that curious. I have no problem with EVGA, I have one now, but it seemed odd that PNY, MSI, or ASUS does not go that route.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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