Friday, March 28, 2008

NVIDIA Quadro for AutoCAD 2009

NVIDIA has a website dedicated for AutoCAD users and now I mean AutoCAD 3D users. If you are serious about doing design work in AutoCAD in a BIM or PIM environment I fully agree that a graphic card like NVIDIA Quadro make a big difference so hardware acceleration can be used as fully as possible. When I worked as CAD Manager I made sure IT only purchased my recommended and tested Quadro cards for the CAD users. At minimum they should have an entry-level card and those working with larger 3D models had at least a mid-range card.

NVIDIA Quadro

An easy way to find what graphic card and driver version you have is to run DXDIAG.EXE (Microsoft DirectX Diagnostic Tool) in Windows. In AutoCAD use

Visit AutoCAD Graphics Hardware website and find out if your graphic card is certified and recommended for AutoCAD 2009 (including verticals like AutoCAD Architecture) and what driver version you should use. Does it support Gooch hardware shader, Full shadow display, Smooth line display, Texture Compression and Per Pixel Lighting or not?

How do I check to see if AutoCAD is using hardware acceleration?

In AutoCAD 2007, AutoCAD 2008, or AutoCAD 2009, enter 3DCONFIG at the command line. In the Adaptive Degradation and Performance Tuning dialog box, click the Manual Tune button. In the Manual Performance Tuning dialog box (shown here), see whether Enable Hardware Acceleration is selected. The Manual Performance Tuning dialog box also indicates the 3D display features that are supported by your graphics hardware.

AutoCAD 2009 certification introduces the following new features:

  • Support for per-pixel lighting.
  • Hardware acceleration support in 2D drawings when running on Windows Vista.
  • The Certification XML file can be updated automatically by selecting Check for Updates.

Why was my card certified for AutoCAD 2007 or AutoCAD 2008 but now fails for AutoCAD 2009?

Newer features and optimizations may require more of the video cards. Because of performance and stability issues, AutoCAD no longer supports cards with 32 MB of RAM or less. Support for some older graphics hardware that manufacturers no longer provide driver updates for has also been dropped.

Why is there no OpenGL option in Windows Vista?

OpenGL® software is currently not supported in AutoCAD 2009 when running on Windows Vista. AutoCAD 2008 uses Direct3D® software to enhance 3D performance.

Is Quadro better than GeForce or Quadro vs GeForce?

If the GeForce card is newer than the Quadro card and has better specs it might be better for CAD work. But in general the Quadro cards are better for CAD work. The Quadro GPU is optimized for 3D CAD, without sacrificing visual quality while GeForce is optimized for high-speed renderings of games. If you have a laptop I would say that in most cases a GeForce card will be good enough compared to the often more expensive Quadro. This technical brief document describes more about NVIDIA Quadro vs. GeForce GPUs. It is from 2003 but many of the details are still valid even though it would be good to have it updated for 2008 as some of the features not available in GeForce at that time probably are included nowadays.

Why Quadro for AutoCAD Overview (Download PDF 571k)

Recommended Quadro Solutions for AutoCAD according to NVIDIA. High-End -NVIDIA Quadro FX 3700 Mid-Range -NVIDIA Quadro FX 1700 Entry-Level -NVIDIA Quadro FX 570 -NVIDIA Quadro FX 370

Mobile -NVIDIA Quadro FX 2500M -NVIDIA Quadro FX 1600M -NVIDIA Quadro FX 1500M -NVIDIA Quadro FX 570M -NVIDIA Quadro FX 360M

If you have any links for good performance tests feel free to add a comment below.

Update. A good link in the comments is to theses test comparing professional cards with gaming cards. http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/video/display/firegl-quadrofx.html


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