Graphic Card replacement (ATI 7950 for Nvidia Series 5 or 6)?

Hello all,
Right now i have an ATI 7950HD 3GBDDR5. Pretty good graphic card for almost everything. It’s very fast and handles big scenes well. Unfortunately for Cycles it’s a no-no… It handles them as fast as my i7 2700k OC. That may seem fast, but I believe an Nvidia series 5 or 6 would behave better. From what i have been reading, the architecture of series 6 is not the best for 3D but its better for games (is this true?). So I am thinking of changing the 7950 for a GTX570 (a GTX580 would be a bit expensive though). I know I’m going backwards a bit in horsepower but i think it would behave better on Cycles.

What do you think?
Thanks in advance.

If it was me I would not do it. But of course if you have decided you absolutely want to use GPU rendering on Cycles and you need the speed up then you need to switch over to Nvidia. It’s the gamble of whether to choose 5xx series and be sure it’s the faster one or pick the newer 6xx and hope Nvidia will “fix” their drivers. If your mobo supports SLI and your wallet can take it you could try something like 2x 570 :slight_smile:

*Of course bear in mind that in my opinion the future of GPU rendering and Cycles is not very certain, when in the other hand investing in a good CPU never can go much wrong.

Thank you for the answer Tame. Can you get real gain on rendering with Blender using two or more cards on SLI?

You might want to keep that ATI around if your motherboard can take a second GPU, there’s been reports in the past of Nvidia intentionally crippling general OpenGL performance on the GeForce cards so as to push their Quadro line.

The recommended card for Cycles is generally a GeForce GTX 580, unfortunately they’ve become a bit harder to find as Nvidia replacing everything with the Kepler Architecture. There’s also another catch as Nvidia has taken steps to prevent the user from making full use of CUDA unless he has a Tesla card, which can cost thousands of dollars.

If you use two cards instead of one you should pretty much get two times the speed. In my understanding scaling is pretty linear if we are talking about ray tracing. What Ace Dragon suggests is also a good option, I don’t know much about having both AMD and Nvidia GPU on the same system but I guess it works. And as it’s said many times 580 is the fastest single card for Cuda rendering with Cycles atm, it’s probably also the one the hardest to find.

It all comes down to how badly you need that speed up :slight_smile:

With a single (shared between desktop and renderer) nv graphics card doing Cycles rendering, the desktop gets extremely unresponsive.

It’s not possible to brows web, watch BR movie, type word doc aso… simultaneously with rendering.

So you need mobo with dual+ graphics card slots and an aditional gpu for desktop (low end gpu is perfect for desktop use).

At this point in time just wait for the new GTX 700 series to come out. IMO big kepler is better than 5 or 600 series.

Well I’ve heard our local GPU guru Arexma saying it works and can be a useful combination (ATI for general OpenGL processing and Nvidia for gaming and rendering).

Of course you can just forget about that option if you choose a PC that hasn’t been specified as a gaming machine and/or is mid to low range (the ones with i3 and i5 processors). Luckily for me at least, my new machine can accommodate a second GPU to go with the ATI card currently in there and I’ve considered eventually going with Nvidia for the second slot.

Even then it wouldn’t be possible with some of the gaming machines, this is especially true with the ones that have a small form factor (a powerful GPU to begin with, but no room for additional parts).


One display Radeon, other GeForce, got this setup just to try it ^^
If you don’t have multiple displays, you need a 2USD DIY dummy-DVI-dongle so Windows thinks there is a display and installs and initializes the driver.

Just be sure that installing a second card doesn’t split the PCIe bandwidth into two (from x16 to x8).
Doesn’t matter for the rendering card, but will slow down the display card.

Thank you all for the responses. Since it’s impossible for me right now to have two graphic cards i’ll probably search for a gtx580 on second hand. Will buy another one later or if possible the one on the MB.