If you’re a fan of meatballs and Nvidia Graphics Cards or “GPU’s” you’re gonna throw noodles in the air and set the table for the new Quadro FX family that has just come into town.

Nvidia has release their 10th generation cards and the “Strongest Professional Graphics Lineup in History” is the byline every GPU manufacturer wishes they could claim. Does it stand up to the new Quadro line-up that has been a staple of graphics professionals and CAD users?

Let’s take a look and see which one would work best for SolidWorks and other 3D CAD tools.

The Quadro FX family
There are 6 new cards boosting everything from Memory Bandwidth and performance to parallel processing power. The most important aspect for working daily in SolidWorks, from a spec sheet glance, is going to be Memory Bandwidth (the rate at which data can be read) and relative performance.

The 6 new cards are the (in order from hgh-end ot low-end) Quadro FX 5800, 4800, 3800, 1800, 580 and the 380. Here’s a breakdown of the new cards against the card (if Nvidia) that you are most likely using now.

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The mightiest FX beast of all
The head of the FX family is a massively powerful card which is the first GPU pushing 4GB of memory. To show you what the possibilities are, here’s the main specs on the Quadro FX 5800.

Quadro FX 5800 Specs

  • 4GB Memory
  • up to 240 CUDA programmable parallel cores
  • 102 GB per second Memory Bandwidth
  • 52 billion texels (a pixel on a texture) per second
  • 300 million triangles per second
  • Price: $3,499 MSRP ($3103.99 Buy.com)

To put this in perspective, the mid-range Quadro FX 1700 has:

  • 512 MB Memeory
  • 32 CUDA parallel cores
  • 12.8 GB per second Memory Bandwidth
  • 7.4 Billion texels per second
  • 191 triangle per second
  • Price: $429.96

The FX 1700 is a SolidWorks Certified Graphics Card and from my experience, this mid-range line is one of the most commonly used cards. The step up from the 1700 is the FX 1800, and as seen by the specs above, it raises performance and bandwidth considerably.

The Quadro FX Family Comparison
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The best graphics card for SolidWorks?
In the new NVIDIA line-up, the high-end cards are attractive. The thing is, for most people, they’ll be overkill. For a card with great performance and good price the FX 1800 outshines the rest. With a performance score of 60.23* it competes nicely against the high-end cards with roughly the same scores and steps up the performance quit a bit against the FX 1700 at 42.40. The price will come in around $599 MSRP.

Why would you need a high-end card?
If you’re producing HD content or involved in some crazy complex visualizations either with rendering or video, the high-end cards are going to serve you better. Some of the high-end cards also allow you to run multiple OS environments on a single computer using NVIDIA SLI Multi OS Technology. The increased CUDA processing cores will allow for better element analysis and rendering used for computation analytics and graphical data recognition.

GPU power and price are often a source of contention with SolidWorks users and IT professionals. Nvidia has pretty much always been a great video card option for the SolidWorks users. You want a card that works well for your needs and for the regular SolidWorks user the high-end cards won’t provide much more for what you would pay. Consider your needs and go from there. Generally, it would be better to use some of that money on a system upgrade, more memory or another monitor.

Leo Tolstoy once asked “How much land does a man need?” – If he were alive today he might ask, how much memory bandwidth does a man need?… But then he would see these graphics cards and be like, give me that 5800 dude.

*“represents the geometric mean of the viewperf viewsets and is intended to provide a relative performance difference. Application scaling may vary. SPECviewperf® 10 for more information visit www.spec.org


Josh is founder and editor at SolidSmack.com, founder at Aimsift Inc., and co-founder of EvD Media. He is involved in engineering, design, visualization, the technology making it happen, and the content developed around it. He is a SolidWorks Certified Professional and excels at falling awkwardly.