Jenova69 and I came to an agreement via PM, but I ended up backing down for reasons I will mention below. Just wanted to say that Jenova69, from the short conversation we had, is a great guy and I would have no problems purchasing from him.
Basically, I asked Jenova69 why he's selling the card. He replied saying that he just doesn't use it often. That got me thinking: how often would I use it? Quite honestly, maybe 50 hours over the next couple years. I'm not a hardcore gamer. $280/50hours = $5.60/hour, which is expensive. My GTX 550Ti should be able to handle modern games at low details, albeit it doesn't have single-gpu Nvidia 2D Surround support, but I think I can live with that. I got so caught up in wanting to play Metro Last Light in high settings that I forgot my priorities. So, I'm changing the direction of my build.
My plan now is to go more toward budget workstation class, geared specifically towards Autodesk Inventor (I do other things like Maya, but less often). That said, in regards to GPU selection, these two graphs influenced my decision to purchase the AMD FirePro v4900 for $105 on Ebay:
While the HD 7950 has similar performance to other Geforce cards, the plot (and several discussions) show that performance in Inventor is more CPU-intensive than GPU-intensive. I'll talk more about this later.
Right away, you can see a significant gap between Geforce and Quadro performance in Inventor. We're talking about nearly 300 part difference between consumer and workstation cards displaying at 15Hz.
To compare the HD 7950 to FirePro v4900, we need to make a few estimates: From the previous graph, I said that the HD 7950 performance was similar to both the 8800 GTS and GTX 480. In this current graph, the GTX 580 and GTS 250 are displayed, but the Geforce curve should be be a good enough representation for the HD 7950. Also in this graph is Quadro 6000 and Quadro FX1800, a high-end and mid-end card. The v4900 is an entry level card, but it competes with the v5800, which dominates the FX1800 in benchmarks. Hence, the Quadro curve should be a good enough representation for the v4900. Overall, I'm expecting a 200-300 part difference between the HD 7950 and FirePro v4900 before hitting 15Hz, ceteris paribus.
At $105 shipped on Ebay ($160 on Newegg), I can't complain (still need two active displayport-to-DVI adapters). Sure, I could have went with the similarly priced v3900, but that uses GDDR3 instead of GDDR5, which doesn't do so well in some benchmarks. The Quadro 600 is in the same price range, but it mostly falls behind the v4900. With the cheaper price, better performance, three monitor Eyefinity, and driver support, the AMD FirePro v4900 is a solid choice.
As aforementioned, Inventor is cpu-limited. Aside from rendering, most of it doesn't support multiple cores and multi-threading, making my FX-4170 a poor choice. That said, it also means that money I would have spent on the HD 7950 wouldn't need to go towards another AM3+ cpu (Opteron 32xx series don't seem promising) unless I do more rendering, which I probably won't. I don't think I'll spend the effort downgrading to a Phenom II x6. The GA-970A-UD3 motherboard does support ECC, but from what I gather, it's unnecessary for my usage. 8GB RAM should be okay for now. Money would probably go toward software, specifically Autodesk Product Design Suite Ultimate at student pricing.
All in all, looking within the next month or so:
- Play games with my GTX 550 Ti
- Remove the SSD from my dying laptop, put it into my desktop, format it and make it dedicated for CAD/3D work
- Swap GPU's and boot up from different hard drives as necessary (gaming vs CAD/3D)
- Purchase Autodesk Product Design Suite Ultimate for Students
For reference, I use SolidWorks at school. If I remember correctly, the computers have i3 processors, 2GB RAM, and a GeForce GT 520. The result = bad. Couldn't even do 30 part assemblies without glitching and bogging down. Ended up having one of my group members do the project on his gaming PC: i5-2600k, 8GB RAM, dual GTX 460's in SLI. Not only could he run the 60 part assembly fine, but rendering time was measured in hours and not weeks. He played Skyrim on Ultra while it rendered.
Edited by Kiro, 16 December 2012 - 10:55 AM.