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Macintosh Graphics Cards

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I'm still kind of new to this Macintosh system and haven't found much in the high-end graphics card department, I've read there aren't many out there, but if anybody could possibly help me out with some ideas on where I could possibly find one would be appreciated, I trying to basically build my system around VW. But the internet info on this subject is scarce.



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I would say that any new Mac will run VectorWorks without any problems. This means any of the cards included with new Macs will work fine. I have used VectorWorks in a G3 iMac which had an ATi Rage 128 Pro with 8 Mb of VRAM that worked flawlessly and now I'm using an iBook G4 that has a 32 Mb ATi Mobility Radeon 9200 and works great. Obviously the second one is much faster than the first one, but both were enough for my needs (small projects in 2D and 3D). I also know people who works in VectorWorks with Powerbooks and eMacs and everyone is very pleased with their computers and videocards.

So I think if you are planning on buying a Mac, or you already did, don't worry, you are getting a nice machine and I think you should use the card that comes with the computer unless you plan to do really complex work. The best thing is to try it. I really don't think you need a monster 256 Mb card in order to work comfortably.

[ 07-13-2004, 10:32 PM: Message edited by: Hugo ]

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My current projects are about 200 MB, which are only the exterior elevation and landscaping. But in the future we'll be doing streetscapes of these models and walkthroughs. Currently on a Rage128 I incur many render problems with abnormalities, random still with BG image props and roughly three hour render times on a dual 1.8 G5 and it will only get worse. I know we could use a high-end 256MB video card but I can't find much about these. Although I just found a awesome sounding ATI 9800 Pro Special Edition which would make my life alot easier.

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We have a dual 1.8 G5 we have roughly three hour renders, we can spend thousands to get a 2.5 G5 or spend a couple hundred on a graphics card. The card is supposed to improve quaility, remove abnormalities, and speed up render time. Unserstanding a 2.5 G5 would speed up render time, but that's it, we'd still have to go into another software package to fix abnormalities and wouldn't get a better quality image. Photorealism is a pain.

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Can anyone explain Chris D's findings. This seems to be a rather large performance difference for such similar machines.

If you do a search on this forum you will find many topics regarding video cards. The consensus seems to be that rendering requires CPU and Open GL requires video card.

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There's a number of factors that can also decide the speed based on Chris D's findings. If other programs or services are running while VW is running - in the background or foregroud - what they are, how many there are, etc.

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In the PC Tech Guide I read The geometry stage, performed by the CPU, handles all polygon activity and converts the 3D spatial data into pixels. The rendering stage, handled by the 3D hardware accelerator, manages all the memory and pixel activity and prepares it for painting to the monitor.

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We were having problems after moving to VW11. Our standard (new) eMacs just aren't coping. For comparison we tried a 20Mb drawing file on an eMac alongside a brand new Powerbook.

The eMac struggles painfully, with the colour-swirl coming on all the time and the CPU being used to 100%, just to switch between saved views, or even to select a tool or draw a line. The Powerbook handles the same file easily, with very fast panning and zooming. Even opens the file twice a quickly (7 secs instead of 14 secs)

The only difference in spec between the machines, both G4 (1.25Ghz eMac, 1.33GHz Powerbook) is extra RAM, 1Gb over 768Mb, and the graphics card VRAM 64Mb over 32Mb. Same cache, same bus speed.

The Activity Monitor utility says VW is only using 110Mb of RAM, so the critical difference must be the graphics card.

I would say that processor is all important - go for a G5 if you can afford it, but failing that, get a half decent graphics card.

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  • 2 weeks later...

The likliest explanation for the performance difference between the EMac and Powerbook is the graphics card:

EMacs use the ATI Radeon 9200 w/32 Mb VRAM (200 MHZ DDR), which is a budget card (both in terms of price and performance), while Powerbooks use a high(er) end card (12" = Nvidia GeForce GX Go5200 w/64 Mb VRAM (600 MHz DDR), 15" & 17" = ATI Mobility Radeon 9700 w/64 or 128 MB VRAM (540 MHZ DDR)).

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