[Hardware] Graphic card recommendation


First of all, since using Blender requires first and foremost at least a fairly decent hardware, a good 3D card for modelling and a good CPU for rendering, I am a little surprised that there is no hardware specific forum. I don’t see where else to post this, so although it is very much blender related, I can only post this in the ‘off topic chat’ forum.

I am about to buy a brand new computer, fairly upscale. I know all the rendering is done with the CPU. I have decided to stick with AMD to promote a healthy competition between the two main CPU vendors and to thank them for their support of open source drivers (for ATI cards). Thus, I will get the AMD Phenom II x4 945 CPU. I don’t need the more expensive ones above that, because they are Black Edition chips useful for overclocking and I have never tried to overclock a CPU.

For the graphic card, we have the choice between ATI and nVidia. As a Linux/Kubuntu user, I considered using an ATI card for the first time because AMD made the specs available and is working with the Open Source community to develop open source drivers. However, I checked extensively (http://masquilier.org/node/135 ) and the result is that Linux open source drivers are not yet up to par, especially for 3D stuff, and the nVidia closed source drivers are still the most stable and the easiest to install for Linux.

So I’ll go with a nVidia card. Now the question to you is: how performant a card would be enough for blender? Besides blender, the only other 3D application I’ll be using is compiz. I guess that if it’s enough for Blender, it’ll be enough for compiz.

I know of this page:
but I don’t know of how up to date it is.
Also the following page has a nice tiered breakdown of ALL available graphic cards:

It makes it easy to compare the relative performance of graphic cards.

Now, which graphic cards (which tier) on the above chart would be enough for a simple Blender usage. I don’t do very many complicated scenes (at least not yet).

Is the amount of memory on the graphic card very important? 500Mb graphic card memory would be enough or would 1G or more be better?

Can I buy a cheap 3D card, or would a higher end card make a real difference?
Again, I don’t do gaming.

For your reference, the following two wikipedia pages are also relevant:

Thanks for your help.



I’d say, even tough I do not have much experience, that the more the merrier for your video card. You will need a lot of performance if you work with scenes with too much objects or too high poly objects. It gets pretty laggy when I overdo it in my puny FX 5500.

Also do not forget the RAM memory. Another thing you need a high amount and a 64 bits capable Operational System to read all that. Once again, the more the merrier.

Thanks Rodrigo for taking a quick break from the game :slight_smile:

I’m planning on 4GB of memory to start with.

Linux has had many 64bit distros for many years, now, so I’m covered.

MX 5500 ? Do you mean FX 5500 ? It’s pretty low on the scale of GPU in the list I provided:

The cheapest GPU I could buy would be many, many tiers above that. So that tells me that an entry level card would be enough, no?

Maybe I should have made it a survey: in your experience, how much hardware is not enough?

Nvidia GTS 250. Works well in SLI too. The socket LGA 1336 motherboard (for 920 D0 stepping overclocked to 4 GHz with copper air cooler) I’m considering has 4 PCIe slots and I am hoping that when Blender’s rendering engine gets some loving (it will!!!) it will be openCL compliant (it will!!!) and I can plug in three more 250s which hopefully will be cheap as chips by then, replace the 4 core cpu with a 6 or 8 core cpu and push my RAM to 24 GB hopefully making the expense of the new socket motherboard worth the expense.

Dorro: cool! There you have me dreaming! :slight_smile:

Have a look at the brand new Comprehensive Blender Hardware Survey:

Any recent Nvidia card would be OK, avoid ATI as there drivers have a history of poor OpenGL support.

Ram is not so importent unless you are working on verry high detail sculpts or backing high res fluid sims.

Who told you blender required these things? They are purely optional. I got a lot of usage out of my old athon 64 x2 3200 and ati 1950pro.

Ati has some good cards, but I’m pretty much finished using their videocars. So if you need a good video card, go with the Nvidia people are suggesting.

I also recommend trying one of the Black Edition chips. I put together a system with the 955 processor. It’s has slightly better performance than the 945. The difference between 955 and 965 didn’t seem significant enough to me to get the 965 though.

I’ve had an HD 4850 and NVidia GTX 260 both with a Phenom II 920. In Windows, there is little to no difference in Blender UI. ATI has done a great job in that area and the difference between both brands is not as big as it used to be. Both benchmark similarly in screen draws. They feel similar in heavy mesh scenes.

I found the big difference was in Linux. The ATI drivers were just not as robust as the Nvidia ones.

So, for Windows machines, it’s a toss up. It’d be safe to purchase either Nvidia or ATI as long as you get a newer generation card around $75 to $100 USD (HD 4770 /HD4850 or 9800GT/9800GTX+/GT250).

If you are going to be Linux, better go with the Nvidia option.

Fixed :stuck_out_tongue:

Hard to tell since I really had not a chance to get Blender to run in other, more powerful machines. But I guess you had some good answers from other people.