Working and Gaming GPU’s, what’s the difference?

Posted: February 6, 2012 in INFR 2350
Tags: , , , , ,

Often when people are shopping for new computer hardware, such as graphics card to upgrade their current system, consumers will often stumble across the choice of having a “Professional” card or a “Consumer” card. A professional card is usually meant for workstations and for applications related to work and not leisure, while consumer cards are meant for gaming and an average person’s usage.

Well, then I can just get whatever I want right? A good graphics card is a good graphics card.

False. When finding a graphics card, you need to find one that suits your needs. You need the right tool for the job. What are you going to be using your computer for? Video games? Modelling/Maya? If it’s for work, you should invest into a workstation card, while if you’re using the computer for video games, you should just stick with consumer grade cards.

Don’t think one card can only do one task. Professional and consumer cards just do their specific jobs better than one another.

I found 2 GPUs that are pretty much the same, but why is there such a HUGE difference in prices?

To give you an idea of the price difference between consumer grade cards and professional cards here is an example.

A NVIDIA GTX 590 GPU with 3GB of VRAM is around $750-$800, which is pretty much the top of the line consumer GPU in the current series from NVIDIA. On the other side of the spectrum an NVIDIA Quadro 5000 with 2.5GB of VRAM (512MB less than the GTX590) goes for… $1750. Yepp. That’s a whole chunk of a lot more than a consumer grade card. Want to take another step forward? An NVIDIA Quadro 6000 with 3GB of VRAM goes for $4000!

Top of the line gaming card. $750. Still a bit pricey. 

Not even top of the line workstation card, $1750. Definitely pricey.

Well, I’m looking at their specs, it seems the consumer grade cards have more bang for their buck!

Though it may be true that a GTX590 has 1024 CUDA cores, while a Quadro 6000 has only 448 CUDA cores, in a workstation setting with Maya, the Quadro would outperform a GTX590. The GTX590 also has a 327.7 GB/sec memory bandwidth, while the Quadro 6000 only has a 144 GB/sec bandwidth for its memory. So looking at the hardware, it seems the GTX590 should be the more expensive one!

What it really comes down to in these GPUs.

Algorithms. It’s all about the algorithms. Professional cards contain specific drivers that are specially designed to work with work programs such as CAD, Maya, and other work applications. These drivers are reflect on the price of the card, as they drivers too money to research and develop! The investment in more efficient algorithms in a workstation GPU for work applications shows in its price. While on the other hand, consumer cards do not require this extensive research into work related drivers that cost a lot of money. This helps reduce the price of a consumer grade card in the end.

Right click and open image in new tab to see the results!

As you can see in the results, a $4000 workstation GPU loses significantly to a $475 GTX580 card in a 3D game benchmark setting.

So remember, if it’s for work, invest into your work. If it’s for fun, don’t take it too seriously. Time to save up those pennies!

  1. Good informative article, choosing the right video card can be a very daunting task.

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