Can anybody recommend a graphics card for design/3D animation/gaming?

sgentile92

macrumors member
Original poster
Jan 29, 2015
39
0
I've been reading up on graphics cards lately, but I still don't fully understand them. I've heard that a graphics card that's good for gaming might not be good for design work (photoshop, after effects, Cinema 4D, etc.) What is a good graphics card to fit those needs? I've got an early 2009 Mac Pro that will soon have updated firmware to 5,1 in order to do the 12-core processor upgrade.

I'm open to flashed cards from MacVidCards as well. My budget is about $500.
 

fuchsdh

macrumors 65816
Jun 19, 2014
1,325
654
I've been reading up on graphics cards lately, but I still don't fully understand them. I've heard that a graphics card that's good for gaming might not be good for design work (photoshop, after effects, Cinema 4D, etc.) What is a good graphics card to fit those needs? I've got an early 2009 Mac Pro that will soon have updated firmware to 5,1 in order to do the 12-core processor upgrade.

I'm open to flashed cards from MacVidCards as well. My budget is about $500.
What programs are you looking at using it for from the 3D/design standpoint?
 

sgentile92

macrumors member
Original poster
Jan 29, 2015
39
0
What programs are you looking at using it for from the 3D/design standpoint?
I use a lot of the Adobe programs (Photoshop, Illustrator, Indesign, After Effects, Lightroom) and Cinema 4D for my 3D work.
 

fuchsdh

macrumors 65816
Jun 19, 2014
1,325
654
Ok, my 2p. Gaming cards versus pro cards are pretty similar in most respects. The differences basically come down to better reliability and longevity under long-term high stress loads, support for high-end features, theoretically better drivers for pro applications, and a price hike. Whether the first things are worth the latter is up to you. I've never had any real issues with reliability using the consumer or pro cards in our machines at work using Adobe applications or Cinema 4D; problems with renders and such failing are generally just After Effects being an ancient, bloated piece of software :)

In regards to performance: I generally favor AMD cards for pro applications, especially with 3D programs. CUDA isn't required for any of the applications you point out, and generally AMD cards are a bit cheaper than comparable Nvidia cards. On the other hand, with the little bit of PC gaming I've done I've found Nvidia cards are generally better-supported. If you're trying to buy a current-gen card, Nvidia's pulled a bit ahead in some performance metrics, so that might make them more attractive.
 

Tutor

macrumors 65816
I use a lot of the Adobe programs (Photoshop, Illustrator, Indesign, After Effects, Lightroom) and Cinema 4D for my 3D work.
Generally, I agree with fuchsdh; however, depending on your use of Cinema4d and After Effects (where Adobe is now shifting AE's 3d rendering chores to C4D Lite), you might want to consider getting an Nvidia GPU, such as a GTX 780 Ti or 780 3G [or 6G if you want to do 4k graphics] if you do substantial, large format rendering. For one of them, I'd recommend that you scout out on Ebay, using a search such as the following for a used one : http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_odkw=gtx+780+6G&_from=R40|R40&_osacat=0&_from=R40&_trksid=m570.l1313&_nkw=gtx+780+6+GB&_sacat=0 . Having an Nvidia GPU will allow you to take advantage of CUDA rendering which can substantially decrease your rendering time in C4d with a GPU rendering assist from (1) Octane Render [ http://render.otoy.com/features.php ] [GPU only renderer], (2) TheaRender [ https://www.thearender.com/site/index.php/features.html ] [hybrid renderer that can use either CPU(s), GPU(s) or CPU(s) and GPU(s) simultaneously] or (3) FurryBall [ http://furryball.aaa-studio.eu ] [GPU only renderer] . Currently, I recommend them in that order for use with C4D, based on their current state of development. The reason that I didn't recommend a Maxwell is that those 780s are uniformly faster at rendering than the 9xxs that fall within your budget. If you go this route be prepared for having to install an extra powering source because these cards require both an 8-pin and a 6-pin PCIe power connector. Here's how I help to power mine: http://www.fspgroupusa.com/ecommerce/retail-psu/booster-x5.html .
 

sgentile92

macrumors member
Original poster
Jan 29, 2015
39
0
Generally, I agree with fuchsdh; however, depending on your use of Cinema4d and After Effects (where Adobe is now shifting AE's 3d rendering chores to C4D Lite), you might want to consider getting an Nvidia GPU, such as a GTX 780 Ti or 780 3G [or 6G if you want to do 4k graphics] if you do substantial, large format rendering. For one of them, I'd recommend that you scout out on Ebay, using a search such as the following for a used one : http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_odkw=gtx+780+6G&_from=R40|R40&_osacat=0&_from=R40&_trksid=m570.l1313&_nkw=gtx+780+6+GB&_sacat=0 . Having an Nvidia GPU will allow you to take advantage of CUDA rendering which can substantially decrease your rendering time in C4d with a GPU rendering assist from (1) Octane Render [ http://render.otoy.com/features.php ] [GPU only renderer], (2) TheaRender [ https://www.thearender.com/site/index.php/features.html ] [hybrid renderer that can use either CPU(s), GPU(s) or CPU(s) and GPU(s) simultaneously] or (3) FurryBall [ http://furryball.aaa-studio.eu ] [GPU only renderer] . Currently, I recommend them in that order for use with C4D, based on their current state of development. The reason that I didn't recommend a Maxwell is that those 780s are uniformly faster at rendering than the 9xxs that fall within your budget. If you go this route be prepared for having to install an extra powering source because these cards require both an 8-pin and a 6-pin PCIe power connector. Here's how I help to power mine: http://www.fspgroupusa.com/ecommerce/retail-psu/booster-x5.html .
As of right now, I am only doing light Cinema 4D and After Effects work. I mainly use Photoshop/Illustrator/InDesign. Would you still recommend Nvidia?

----------

Ok, my 2p. Gaming cards versus pro cards are pretty similar in most respects. The differences basically come down to better reliability and longevity under long-term high stress loads, support for high-end features, theoretically better drivers for pro applications, and a price hike. Whether the first things are worth the latter is up to you. I've never had any real issues with reliability using the consumer or pro cards in our machines at work using Adobe applications or Cinema 4D; problems with renders and such failing are generally just After Effects being an ancient, bloated piece of software :)

In regards to performance: I generally favor AMD cards for pro applications, especially with 3D programs. CUDA isn't required for any of the applications you point out, and generally AMD cards are a bit cheaper than comparable Nvidia cards. On the other hand, with the little bit of PC gaming I've done I've found Nvidia cards are generally better-supported. If you're trying to buy a current-gen card, Nvidia's pulled a bit ahead in some performance metrics, so that might make them more attractive.
So basically I can't go wrong with an AMD card? Gaming is a back burner kind of thing, its not as important as the pro applications that I use. But it sounds like a lot of games can still utilize the AMD cards, right?
 

Tutor

macrumors 65816
I answer your query with an earned biased, "Yes."

As of right now, I am only doing light Cinema 4D and After Effects work. I mainly use Photoshop/Illustrator/InDesign. Would you still recommend Nvidia? ...
I was AMD card oriented long before I even considered Nvidia cards, until PunkNugget, another forum member, helped to introduce me to CUDA computing. I have many AMD GPU processors, but very, very many, many more Nvidia GPU processors [See my signature, below, a Kepler core equivalent of over 145,000 CUDA cores vs. a count of ATI Stream processing units of slightly over 13,000]. AMD cards are generally less expensive than Nvidia cards. There's no task that my AMD cards can perform that my Nvidia cards can't perform. However, (1) my Nvidia cards also support CUDA, which my AMD cards do not support at all and (2) my older Nvidia Fermi cards (GTX 295s, 480s, 580s and 590s) can't hold a candle to the OpenCL computing ability of my then contemporary AMD cards. That my AMD cards have traditionally been better at OpenCL computing than my Nvidia cards, is changing rapidly as Nvidia is greatly improving the OpenCL computing ability of its cards, beginning with its Kepler based GTX 6xx series, and especially with its Maxwell based 9xx series. Moreover, since CUDA computing, which is proprietary to Nvidia, content creation applications are increasing much more rapidly and are becoming much more powerful than are those that rely on OpenCL computing, which is non-proprietary, I don't mind paying a little more for Nvidia GPUs to have greater flexibility. So to me it boils down to personal choice, budget and need. Given your current uses and budget, AMD cards aren't bad choices; but know that I now purchase only CUDA cards.
 
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