Video cards to consider for Rhino/Windows in 2023 "on a budget"

I’m not going to get a 4090. Or 4080. I’m going for the value buy.

If you were buying a new window’s system and were after value over performance, what would you settle on right now?

As a bit of a light-weight when it comes to video cards, I’m wondering a few things:

  • Is an older generation card that performs about as fast as newer cards (based on benchmarking studies) at a disadvantage to the newer gen cards in any respect? Do nVidia’s lower-end 40XX cards suck?
  • Should I concern myself with the Cards RAM? How much is the minimum?
  • Would higher-end specs elsewhere make up for a slightly below-par graphics card? For example, getting a system with 32GB ram instead of 16GB to make up for a lower-end card?
  • What’s your opinion on Radeon graphics cards in Rhino? Everyone seems to stick with nVidia.

Note that I’m learning towards buying a laptop but could/would get swayed into using a desktop if something came up. Share your opinions regardless as I’m sure there’s a lot of people wondering what’s what.

Did you read this?:

A Desktop will cost less and be faster than a comparable laptop.

Do you want to Run Cycles? V-Ray or Other Raytracing tools?
Otherwise, you will be good with any GPU with 8 GB VRAM. I’m running huge files on my work’s laptop and Rhino’s viewport seems to be fine, especially with Rhino V8 which can run nicely on mid-tier windows laptop.

My suggestion for you is RTX 3060.
1- A solid choice from the Ampere Architecture (previous gen)
2- Good Value for the money (less than $300)
3- Less power consumption.

It can handle huge and complex rhino viewports; you can also use it for some rendering with TW/Enscape/D5

for a laptop 3060 can be tighter on the memory side since it has only 6GB instead of 12gb on the desktop variant.

Did you read this?:

I did. Note that post is two years old. I’m especially curious about how Radeon cards perform as I don’t see much about them in these forums. Everyone’s scared of them?

A Desktop will cost less and be faster than a comparable laptop.

This isn’t always true.

Where I live, the value gained from purchasing a desktop just isn’t there. I know that there are differences, like for example: the mobile version of a video card might have less ram and the CPU might be toned down. Plus there’s overheating (especially with the ‘slimmer’ laptops which I avoid). But the gap has really closed in certain years.

Plus, there’s the cost considerations of buying the peripherals.
I would almost prefer a desktop and gain the advantages of a better Keyboard and bigger monitor. But the value is so bad right now. I know that sounds strange, but if I spend $1,000 on a desktop + peripherals or $1,000 on a laptop, the later will be outright faster. I don’t know if this is a local issue or what but that’s the market where I am right now.

If I get a screaming deal on a desktop I’d absolutely go that route.

Thanks Tay!

for a laptop 3060 can be tighter on the memory side since it has only 6GB instead of 12gb on the desktop variant.

How important is video memory do you figure?
It’s hard to find something on a budget with more than 8GB video memory.

Hardware requirements haven’t changed much for Rhino since V6.
AMD seems incapable of writing solid performing OpenGL drivers. Personally, I’ve written them off entirely

That was a general statement. There are always exceptions.

If $500 is considered budget - I’d highly suggest the 16 gig variant of the 4060 ti. More VRAM is definitely better. You won’t have quite the render power with that card as the higher end variants, but you’d have to go all the way up to a 4080 to get the same VRAM as this card, which is 2x the cost. This ASUS ProArt version is quite nice:

For the most part - to answer your first question - it all comes down to cores and VRAM. So, an older generation 30XX card with the same cores as a newer 40 series will generally perform the same - but the newer ones are more efficient.

I would always and forever prioritize a desktop implementation over the laptop one. Note that the equivalent laptop card is NEVER the same performance as the desktop card - so they may say that a laptop has a 4070 ti or the like - but that’s the LAPTOP version of that GPU, which is just never going to have the same performance as the desktop version. Laptops with beefy graphics cards tend to be quite hot and loud. If you want something small form factor - quasi portable - then I would just build a small form factor machine for that purpose. I’m in the process of rebuilding this machine right now, with a used 3090 I snagged off FB Marketplace:

That’s so small, I’m mounting it on the wall of my quite small truck camper, so I can go mobile when I work - so much more powerful than a laptop. That machine will have far more power (and RAM) than even a 4090 laptop - at a fraction of the cost. And it will be VERY quiet. Here’s a great comparison of the 4090 desktop vs the 4090 laptop:

You’ll see the laptop version is only about 60% the computing power of the desktop version, and 66% of the VRAM. Considering that laptop is selling for $5-7k, a profoundly bad value. Again - my 3090 has more cores, and more VRAM than this laptop, at a fraction of the price - I got the GPU used for $750, I’m sure you can get them for even less now.


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Thanks Sky! All that is really helpful. I’m still learning about cores and threads and such. Things have changed A LOT since I last built a PC.

There’s a couple interesting takes from the article:

the laptop RTX 4090 has more in common, in terms of hard specs, with the desktop Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080 GPU than the graphics card that shares its name

I find that lower-down the product line, the pricing becomes less ridiculous for the mobile variants. The ratio of price-to-performance also narrows as well and in some cases appears to sway in favour of laptops. Well kind of sort of: Prices seem to be all over the place and they seem to try and sneak in garbage all the time. I see overspec’d gaming PC’s with garbage video cards and vice-versa (seems like such a waste). Used stuff is even worse. You really have to know your numbers right now.

GeForce GTX 1080 and its mobile GTX 1080 counterpart were actually getting pretty close in performance

Some models exhibit a big performance difference, other’s not so much. I feel like a laptop with a 4090 is geared more towards people with deep pockets and a strong biased towards performance over value. Further down the product line you’re going to get more frugal customers who demand more value. I can only guess that the price-to-performance ratio of a 3060/3070 laptop is far better. And the performance I get out of a laptop in that price range verses spending the same amount of money on a desktop (+ peripherals)…

…but I’m going to see what comes up and what’s available. Leaving the door open for more options is a big advantage. And at least with a desktop you can upgrade the graphics card.

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Thanks!! In that case I’ll likely avoid the Radeon as I’d rather things work reliably opposed to aiming for the highest possible performance.

The 4060 Ti is definitely the only way to currently go for RAM.

There have been a few discussions on this topic (GeForce in general), and their cost…

One thing to note is that nvidia is apparently planning to release a pair of cards, including a 4070 Super. This isn’t going to help you on this budget, but it may have the effect of forcing down the price of the 4060Ti, which is absolutely awful value and not really a generational improvement. The operative word here is may. Only because there has been rumor/suggestion that the 4070 Super will include more RAM, so this may encourage people up the chain and away from 4060 Tis. The entire nvidia lineup at the moment is self-upselling, until you basically end up at the 4070 or the 4090, because the specifications of nearly all other cards compared to the price, is demonstrably bad.

I wouldn’t guide anyone down a particular path of waiting or buying now; but the market is shuffling a little. But waiting is always an option. Alternatively, you may get a good deal on a fake Black Friday “sale”, if that’s what we are still calling it… sale.

An interesting thing to note, is that as long as you have some form of decent motherboard and a good Power Supply Unit, then you can usually add a second card from the same family at a later date, if you are interested in non-animation multi-GPU rendering.

NOTE: In case you stumble across them, as I did at a similar budget, I have been running an Intel Arc A770 16 GB since March/April, and it has slowly gotten more and more stable, and I have had no issues in Rhino for about 2 months or so. I have no idea why it is any better, as I don’t think anyone at McNeel changed it, nor did Intel to my knowledge. But, I would recommend sticking with nvidia, because you CANNOT render with an Intel Arc GPU in Rhino’s implementation of Cycles, or much other software at the moment.


+1 to everything @David53 said! And that video comparing the 4060 desktop and mobile variants - one way of looking at that is “wow the mobile variant is really good” - but the flip side is “wow the desktop version is so weak, they just threw it in a laptop and called it good.” If you want value - don’t be afraid to shop for used 30 series cards! Also - don’t be afraid to build your own machine. It’s surprisingly fun and easy. A good Rhino machine is a little bit of an odd duck - you ideally want lots of GPU and RAM, but the CPU honestly does not need to be top of the heap, because you can’t really use the multi threading. Prebuilt product lines aren’t really optimized for our weird little CAD program, so you always end up paying more for some part of the build that you don’t need - often the CPU. If I was building a budget machine, I’d for sure look at building something around the last generation of AMD processors - all the stuff on the AM4 socket. The value and performance on those is wonderful, and you can fill your RAM slots on the cheap.

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One thing I should mention is that I will likely only be doing “light” renders. And beyond that I really only hope to get good performance out of maybe medium-sized files (hard to gauge what ‘medium’ really is).
Thanks to all the help I’ve identified the range of cards I’m aiming for, at least for now; minimum and maximums basically, which is in either the 4050 - 4070 or 3060 - 3080 range +/- depending on if I get a screaming deal. I know those seem outdated for a lot of people but it’s really all I need (as far as GPU’s go).

I’ll add the Blender open data link (thanks for providing the link to that link!!!):

The Tom’s Guide data is pretty easy to look up (and likely less relevant) so I won’t bother linking that.

Very much appreciate all the help! Learning about the entire product line from top to bottom is definitely useful.

This is kind of a trend though: That as you go down the product line it’s not a given that one outperforms the other. I’m more of a trailing edge guy rather than someone seeking the latest and greatest. My approach is to almost ignore the model number and see what it’s performance numbers are. And from there see what’s available and how much value I get out of it.

How much RAM you figure? 32GB?

One thing to note shopping for used cards - there was an updated version of the 3080 that came out late in the cycle, that had 12 gigs of VRAM, instead of just 10. You should be able to find a used one of those pretty darn cheap. A strong contender.

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Yeah I like 32 gigs for Rhino. If you’re doing really heavy work with laser scanned data, I’d go to 64. I have 64 on my machine, and when I’m running multiple sessions or something with a lot of laser scanned data, I’m routinely over 32 gigs on my machine.

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I might get into managing point cloud data. You have me leaning towards a desktop now.

Very good to know as used prices are all over the place. After christmas I’m sure there’ll be quite a few popping up for sale!

Depending on where you are, Facebook Marketplace is honestly pretty great for used cards. I’m even seeing brand new, unopened 4070’s for less than $500 in my area (SoCal) - that card is pretty unloved by the gaming community, but has 12 gigs of VRAM. With patience you could snag one for ~$400 I bet. But - a 3080 has substantially more cores. A well priced (used) 12 gig 3080 might just be the ticket.

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Personally speaking, I’m in the same boat… I use nvidia exclusively and have for the last decade or so… Amd did me dirty years ago, so I switched to nvidia quadro cards and I’ve never looked back.

may I ask you how much the budget do you consider for a GPU?

Off the top of my head I’m looking to spend $1,000 USD on a complete laptop and maybe around $900 on a desktop (I know that might sound a bit low). Probably not less unless I get a deal on something used (and likely upgradeable). And I’m looking to purchase early next year.

I’m already seeing stuff in my price range minus the RAM (which I think might be more important than I previously though). I’m going to aim for 32G.