Graphics Card Choice for Dell Precision 390

Buying a new system for ProE use. I work with fairly large assemblies, and plastic parts with alot of features, drafts and rounds. Here are
the graphics card choices:
Quadro FX 4500     $1440     (512MB) Quadro FX 3500    $815    (256MB) Quadro FX 3450    $515    (256MB) FireGL V7200    $715    (256MB) Quadro FX550    $61    (128MB) FireGL V3400    $61    (128MB) Quadro NVS285    $0    (128MB)
I am thinking about the FX 3450 since that seems to be reasonable in price. Others in my company have bought a FX550, but that seems to be pretty low-end.
Any comments or suggestions?
Thanks!
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No Spam wrote:

Answering my own post...here's a good review:
http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/video/display/quadrofx-vs-firegl.html
Basically, it looks like the FX550 is a decent card. Does ProE ever require more than 128MB of video RAM? I don't work with large textures or do anything advanced in ProE. I think rotating shaded images in ProE is the most intensive video card operation that I do.
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I think you would benefit from the faster cards which are faster due to the on-board processors as well as the graphics ram. I don't think the extra ram makes up much of the cost - the big jump is in processing power. If you can handle the extra $400 I would buy the 3450 too.
I wish I could comment more on the video ram and its usage, but I have no other info.
The benchmark article was interesting, but as you can see the difference in benchmark score from the fastest to slowest was very small. This tells me the test wasn't well suited for a comparison. I understand that selecting a dataset for benchmarking is a difficult thing to do because you can make the performance differences very small of extremely large.
In practice I assure you the better graphics card will put out a lot better performance when you load up a large assembly. When the datasets get big, the difference gets significant.
Dave
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I'm using a 3500 & it's probably better than I need. It doesn't really slow up even when I load the machine (also a 390) up so much it crashes.
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I don't know how PTC decides on what systems to recommend. I've never heard of them doing any benchmarking. I'm guessing that their recommendations are based on stability and working with vendors like Dell on the best configuration for the software. Anyway, though I can't tell you what to make of the fact that lots of cards are not on this list, I'd take their two tier system of evaluation into account when considering a purchase, especially since you are already considering a generally supported package from Dell. http://www.ptc.com/partners/hardware/current/support/dell_wf3.htm You'll see on this list that the 3450 is not supported or certified for any Dell product while the 3500 and the 550 both are. I'm guessing that the price you've listed is what's added by Dell to the base price for that card. It's hard to believe you could get an FX550 for $61. I've also heard of people getting good results from the purchase of a Geforce card that could be soft quadroed to a Quadro FX.
As to how much to spend on a card, I think it very much depends on what you're going to be doing with Pro/e: if you're going to try to make money with the software, if you really need to be productive, if you really need both responsiveness and stability, get the best card on the list. If you're just using it as a learning setup, get the cheapest card that Dell will put in a 390 workstation and swap it for a card you can soft quadro. For $300 you can probably get a Geforce card you can soft quadro into the equivalent of an FX4500.
David Janes
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David Janes wrote:

As I understand it, the hardware vendors come to PTC, send test systems, and probably even pay a fee for the testing. If nobody ever got a system certified I'm not sure that PTC would even care.
As a result, the systems on the certified list are not a full range of what I consider suitable systems, and the ones on the list are not necessarily the most compatible.
The one advantage you do get is that if there is a hardware-specific bug with the software, PTC will track and pursue the problem in their support system. I have no idea whether that expedites the solution, but they do it. With any other hardware it's up to you and your hardware vendor.
All that said, hardware has taken a much more unified platform, especially the crucial graphics card on windows platform. Most of these run the same software driver from the low end to the high end, and as such the driver used on an approved graphics card is usually pretty darned good with any other graphics card coming from that vendor. Case in point, ATI or nVidia.
Dave
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We have 3450's in our 390's. With a 255 component assembly it is about 3 times faster than my old 370 with a FX1400.
--
Ben Loosli



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