Choosing graphics card for the workstation (for 3D)

Which graphics card would you recommend for a workstation to work with 3D: Blender, Maya, Houdini, Realflow?

I was thinking about:
Titan X

I heard that the professional graphics cards have a weaker GPU performance than the graphics cards for games for the same price (or even for a much lower price) (1664 CUDA cores at the M4000 and the GTX 970, against 3,072 at Titan X).

And since I do not work only with 3D, but also with compositing and video editing, I need a graphics card that suited for programs like Nuke, Premiere, After effects with minimal loss of performance.

I’m choosing computer parts for workstation for the first time, and I will be very grateful for your advice,
thank you in advance!

Titan X actually run really poorly compared to other right now pluss it’s a horrible value.
I think they fixed the problems with the 980 ti. So that the best bang for the buck right now. (IMO)
Professional cards have features that I don’t need. They have more precise calculations but are slower. I can’t see the difference in image so for me the 980 ti is more important then precision no one can see.

what i have gathered after researching online these couple of weeks is that:

Rendering: GTX 980/TI etc. i.e. gaming GPU. More core the the merrier.
CAD: Tesla because of the way CAD still uses a certain old and inefficienct render algorithm which workstation cards are better at resolving.

AMD cards are just not as good as NVidia in terms of implementation. So I would avoid them if possible.

Since I just started learning Blender, my input is for 3D workstation in general rather than Blender specific. (I have 15+ years of 3D modeling experience, so I’m not exactly a noob :slight_smile: )

General speaking, 3D programs have two key components:

  1. Display and manipulate geometry, how a computer displays and manipulates geometry in real time.
  2. Rendering objects, rendering still images.

My understanding is that the two components use very different math to handle their tasks. Therefore the reason for two types of GPU, workstation and gaming. On paper, they look almost identical. But they are engineered differently to their purposes. Workstation GPUs are also engineered with stability in mind.

Most rendering engines have switched from CPU to GPU in past few years, GPU’s cuda counts matters a lot when it comes to rendering process; gaming GPUs are better for the modern rendering engines. However, the math behind the display and manipulate geometry hasn’t changed much. It is still a mathematically intense process; workstation GPUs are more suitable than gaming ones. That is especially evident in dealing a large scene with a tone of geometries or doing complex manipulations.

Most major commercial 3D programs are written for workstation GPU, including Autodesk and Adobe. A commercial 3d studio would have two separate systems, workstation GPU systems for modeling and gaming GPU systems for rendering farm. Obviously that’s not a practical setup for indies. The alternative is to put both on one computer. The principle is this, use workstation GPU to drive the displays (your monitors) and use gaming GPU for rendering. But be warned, this kind of setup is for people who knows ins and outs about the hardware, drivers and OS.

BTW, Nvidia next gen GPU Pascal is due out in July, it supposedly be a lot faster than Maxwell.

The main difference for 3D is OpenGL (viewport) vs CUDA (general compute algorithms including Cycles) performance. Viewport performance depends on OpenGL, Cycles rendering on CUDA single precision calculation speed. Workstation cards have better OpenGL and double precision, gaming cards better cuda single precision performance.

If you are going to be buying a high-end card like the Titan X,M400,Tesla I would wait and get one of Nvidia’s new pascal GPU’s. For example the Tesla P100 but you just need to decide on how much you want to spend. Also, if you buy a high-end server grade GPU (for render) you may not get a display output (e.g the Tesla’s). Therefore, you will have to buy a second card for your display (a good idea in general if you do GPU rendering).