Graphic cards -- a moving spotlight

If you search the forum for graphic cards, Quadro for example, you will turn up lots of posts and lots of apologies for bringing up the subject yet again. But time moves fast and the spotlight necessarily passes from one graphic card to the next. So attached is the list of options I am confronting on Sept 21, 2019.


This is for a Win10 desktop/workstation with an i9.

I run both Rhino 5.0 and Rhino 6.0. I do animations with Bongo 2.0 and occasional designs with tSplines. Rarely do I render.

I don’t mind paying up a bit for a superior card, but only if it makes a real difference.

Any of these cards jump out as the best 2019 choice for Rhino?

Thank you for your insights. Michael

The installed card on my existing desktop, which was built in 2012, is an AMD FirePro W5000. I am looking for a 2019 card that is at least this capable, but it seems that over 7 years, cards must have improved a lot. Cheaper memory, etc.

My card is a Quadro K4000 from a couple of years ago, so I’m probably better suited as a recipient of the wisdom posted here as opposed to giving any useful specific advice.

That said, here I go anyway:

The first thing to keep in mind is Cycles and the fact that is destined to become the builtin Rhino renderer sometime in the (near?) future. It loves GPU graphics processing units. The more the merrier. I also think that regardless of GPU, you should probably plan on no less than 8GB of GPU memory. John Brock recently posted some recommendations based on display resolution and number of monitors. I don’t think Cycles (or any other rendering software available today) makes any use of the ray-tracing ability available in the RTX boards. On the other hand, it is the Next Big Thing. I’m assuming Cycles will start using it as soon as Nathan gets it figured out.

As to Quadro vs Geforce: there seems to be lots of folks on the forum that are happier than a pig in a mudhole with the Geforces, All I can say is that I’ve always used Quadros and kept the drivers up to date. I’ve never had any display issues that weren’t the fault of Rhino (mostly WIPs). My budget has usually restricted me to low or mid-range Quadros and they have been more than adequate for what I do. But I’m not a big user of materials and textures.

Hopefully some users with recent experience doing more complicated stuff with bigger, more colorful and complex models using recent cards will have more details.

The updated “Super” version of RTX cards are nearly the same price as the initial basic models without “Super” in the model name, but some of them are considerably more powerful. For example, RTX2070 Super is almost as powerful as RTX2080 (and even slightly faster in some games and GPU synthetic tests), but costs same as the basic RTX2070. RTX2060’s performance also gets close to what the basic RTX2070 offers while being much cheaper. RTX2080 Super is not much better than RTX2080, though.

That being said, I think that you will find RTX2060 Super as the best video card for the money (if you look for an NVidia model and want to ignore the proposals from AMD). However, AMD’s RX 5700XT is both, cheaper and more powerful than RTX2060 Super.

The comparison test below shows the results of the factory RX 5700XT version. Keep in mind that the 3rd party models have much better cooling, lower noise and slightly faster performance.

Wait as long as you can. Spend as much as you can. Don’t look back. The only other specific
advice would be to not bother with a Quadro unless it’s the absolute top of the line, there’s no point in paying for such poor bang-for-the-buck unless you get the biggest bang possible.

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At my previous work I used to work with several workstations one had 2P6000 and the other 2 Titan X. Actually the purpose was another (VR Development & Visualization) but I also made some quick Rhino Rendering and animations with it. The first thing if you model clean and well, you can even use crappy render engines. It will look good and it will calculate fast. A bad and heavy datamodel does not not. A great renderengine just lets you cheat better. Of course details and workflows are better but do you max it out? My models where lightweight and even my private owned RTX 2060 is capable of doing this quickly. So it really did not made a huge difference to an average workstation.

However if you are self-employed it actually always makes sense to invest in better hardware. At least in Germany you can count it in when it comes to taxes. So software and hardware is really the last point of saving money. As Jim said, buy the best you can and use them as long as a new generation really performs noticeably better.

There are lot of benchmark websites, but I don‘t think any Rhino user has tried all listed Graphic Cards, so there is simply no trustworthy comparison for Rhino. I think if you compare Geforce with Quadros the performance differences in its class are minimal. Quadros are rather known for having more reliable components. But I never encountered a Geforce hardware failure.