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We're seriously considering upgrading (read: replacing) a small handful of workstations (desktops) for our department at work. No in-house IT, so I'm asked to do a suggestion myself.

The workstations will mainly be used for EPLAN (including Pro Panel, 3D) and AutoCAD, which are poorly optimized and primarily running single-threaded. So most of it is fairly straight-forward, except I'm not sure what kind of GPU to put into it.

The company behind Eplan suggests a Quadro 600 (don't laugh, it sports a whopping 640 MHz GPU clock) on their website. Which makes little sense, since that card was released 10 years ago and has been end-of-life for quite some time now. I know that specific card is more of a minimum-requirement than an optimal one anyway, so we need more power than that. Probably a little under the range of a GTX 1060, but that's primarily aimed at gaming and a bit expensive (cheapest one currently goes for 225 euros). Perhaps an RX 570? Probably still overkill and I have no experience with that series.

We don't need to run Crysis at 60 FPS. We need some dedicated RAM, but not that much. We need 1 monitor that draws 3D relatively smooth and 2 others for secondary tasks. Preferably all on DisplayPort, but 2 DP and 1 HDMI will work fine too. Preferably something that's still in production and a good bang-for-your-buck ratio. Perhaps a professional version (with 3 monitor connections) of a GT 1030 makes sense?

My gut tells me we need a base clock speed of 1250 MHz or higher, but I couldn't tell you why if I wanted to.

In short:

  • Render 3D for CAD applications
  • 3 monitor connections (preferably 3 DP or 2 DP and HDMI, all 3 1920x1080)
  • Cheap (at most 150 EUR (180 USD) at today's NLD price, preferably less (under 110 EUR))
  • ATI/AMD or nVidia
  • Stable drivers (no shenanigans, we'll be using these cards 40 hours a week)
  • Outshine by a decent amount, and more modern than a Quadro 600

The rest of the system is still flexible, so there's not many limitations. If it needs PCIe 3.0 x16, I'll get a board that supports it.

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For a work environment I would recommend nvidia quadro. Not the p600 or p620 those are likely to be too small and under perform although they would work and be the cheapest option. The previous model line goes P1000, P2000, P4000, [P5000], P6000. With price going from least to most expensive. I think the current model line right now is RTX but buying the P model ought to save you some money and would perform just fine.

The P2000 is still a thin 1 slot card and does not require supplemental pcie power from the power supply. I would recommend either this or the P1000.

The P4000 is still a 1 slot card but requires supplemental power so make sure something like that will work in your setup.

The P6000 is a dual slot card requiring supplemental power, and quite expensive. I would not get this unless you know you can make use of its performance.

They would all support up to 4 monitors, the cards only have DP outputs so plan for dp-to-hdmi adapters and whatnot.

There's the ongoing debate of geforce vs quadro, and geforce while you can often get the same performance or better for less money the quadro is business oriented and will provide stable drivers, no shenanigans, and may allow specific configuration for 3d render of graphic or CAD software whereas geforce would not. For business you typically do not worry about the 20% markup or whatever for the quadro line of graphics cards vs the consumer geforce. Getting a new card less than $180 usd that's not likely to happen. If you're running on a 19" monitor 1280x1024 then a p620 would probably be ok, but a 27" @ 2560x1440 or better then you'll be wanting a p1000 and a 4k monitor probably a p2000.

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  • We won't be going above 24" 1080, but would like to upgrade from the current (2) to 3 monitors. From a first glance the higher Quadros are way above budget and I was hoping I could avoid the expensive series altogether, but you raise valid points.
    – Mast
    Dec 15 '20 at 6:22

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