MCAD Tech News (#367)

24 Jul, 2014 By: Cadalyst Staff

Select the Appropriate GPU for Your CAD Workflow — and Your Budget, Part 2

Understand how power consumption, support for multiple monitors, and other factors can impact your choice.

By Alex Herrera

When you begin shopping for a workstation-caliber graphics processing unit (GPU), having a price range in mind will narrow the options quite a bit. But it still invariably leads to perhaps the most intimidating issue in this whole shopping process: How to assess and compare the performance of the products in that price range.

Spec sheets may seem like the answer, but most overwhelm the reader with floods of numbers, and use metrics that may not provide a good basis for comparison. If the performance metrics you'll find in marketing brochures are of interest to you, by all means check them out — but remember to take each with a few grains of salt. While they can hint at a rough performance level, they are generally too subjective in definition and too specific in usage to indicate whether the GPU can succeed in making your job more productive.

Ultimately, getting at least a rough handle on how a GPU might perform while running your type of workload requires some type of benchmarking. Although they are often misused and misinterpreted, benchmarks can be useful tools, and should factor into your GPU selection process. (Learn more about GPU benchmarks in "How Fast Is It? Assess Your Graphics Hardware.") But that's not all the information you'll need.

Capabilities and Features That Benchmarks Don't Measure

Benchmarks are inherently limited to yielding approximations of performance for the things they measure — and there are many professional GPU capabilities that they don't measure at all. For example, the extent of a card's support for advanced display functionality, GPGPU (general-purpose computing on graphics processing units), and memory size and speed can make all the difference in productivity, yet won't show up in published results for popular professional benchmarks such as SPECviewperf. Read more »

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Contributing editor Alex Herrera is a consultant focusing on high-performance graphics and workstations.

IMAGINiT Tricks Tutorial: Add a Custom Material to a Custom Content Library Family in Autodesk Inventor

Create a linked custom content center family from an existing custom family, and add a new material to an existing custom content family.

By John Hackney

Manage Files with Autodesk Vault Mirror

Watch the video »

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John Hackney is an IMAGINiT Technologies manufacturing solutions consultant.


Mark Your Calendar: MCAD Events

One-Click 3D Model Creation with the Multidrive
July 29, 2014
11 a.m. PT
In this webinar, NextEngine will show how to fully automate the scanning of 3D objects using the NextEngine Multidrive. This dual-axis turntable speeds model creation for small parts (that fit inside a 5" x 4" window). Viewers will see how it combines tilt and rotation to enable a fully automated capture and automatic alignment of scans. Read more »

Solid Edge Superior Sheet Metal Design
July 30, 2014
11 a.m. PT
Novedge will sponsor this webinar, which will demonstrate Solid Edge ST6 FoundationSheet metal design, a core capability of Solid Edge ST6 Foundation, with support for the entire design-through-fabrication process. Read more »

How to Avoid Four Common Injection Molding Defects Using SW Plastics
July 30, 2014
2 p.m. ET
With SolidWorks Plastics, users can evaluate changes to parts and tooling early in the design phase to help improve part quality, aesthetics, and cost. Viewers of this webinar will learn about key metrics affecting the bottom line, which SolidWorks Plastics can predict. Read more »

For a complete list of CAD meetings, conferences, training sessions, and more, check out our calendar of events on Are you hosting an event that you would like to include in our calendar? Submit details at least two weeks in advance to

What’s New at

The Promise and Reality of CAD on the Cloud
How has the cloud materialized for CAD users and managers? Read more »

CAD Manager's Toolbox: CAD Managers Unite!
The author's Facebook group provides a place for CAD managers and users to share tips and ask questions. Read more »

Epson Updates, Expands Selection of Large-Format Color Printers and Scanners
New offerings in the SureColor T-Series range from 24" to 44" wide, and from less than $3,000 to more than $11,000. Read more »

Save Time in AutoCAD with Associative Section Views
Drawing section views can be such a tedious process, and the many updates that can occur during design changes make it even worse. Join Lynn Allen as she shows you how easy it is to generate section views from a 3D model that automatically update whenever the model changes. Watch the video »

Build a Plugin Command for AutoCAD Civil 3D
Use Visual Studio.NET to customize your Civil 3D experience. Read more »

About the Author: Cadalyst Staff

Cadalyst Staff

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Lynn Allen

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