iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






NVIDIA Quadro FX vs. Intel Core 2 in SPECviewperf 10

Building a modeling and visualization workstation.

September 29, 2008

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We have already examined optimal CPU + GPU combinations with products from AMD and NVIDIA intended for home PCs, where games are the most resource-intensive applications. Our conclusion hasn't come as a surprise: with a limited budget, a graphics card gets a higher priority. In particular, if you can spend $300-350 for processor + graphics card, it makes sense to spend most on a graphics card to get the best performance and leave $120-150 for a dual-core processor. Such a CPU will be powerful enough to work with GeForce 8800 GT or even Radeon HD 4850. Don't worry, such a configuration will also cope with other resource-intensive home tasks, be it video encoding, archiving, or photo processing.

If data security is your concern -- you use resource-intensive antivirus applications with resident modules and regular scans, firewalls; and backup emails and critical data regularly -- you should spend a bit more on a processor. In this case, a triple- or quad-core processor will be a better choice than a higher-frequency dual-core CPU, as background tasks will run faster and more unobtrusively, and won't steal resources from your primary tasks. However, even in this case a CPU priced above $250 will hardly provide a noticeable performance gain. Experienced users will rather start noticing little delays at application launches, data saving and other operations related to memory capacity and HDD performance. And those parts will become more important to make a PC even faster.

Needless to say, a balanced approach to building a computer is even more rewarding in the professional area. Generalization is hardly appropriate here, as it all depends on your tasks. Still, if we speak of popular modeling and design applications, it becomes easier because there are industry-recognized tools for benchmarking such applications. SPECviewperf 10 is one of them. We used this benchmark to compare PC configurations featuring different CPUs combined with Quadro FX graphics cards and one Mid-End GeForce card.


Graphics cards:

  • GeForce 9600 GT 512 MB ($154)
  • Quadro FX 370 ($146)
  • Quadro FX 570 ($236)
  • Quadro FX 1700 ($575)


  • Core 2 Duo E4700 (2.6 GHz, 2 MB L2 Cache, FSB800, $159)
  • Core 2 Duo E8400 (3.0 GHz, 6 MB L2 Cache, FSB1333, $235)
  • Core 2 Quad Q6600 (2.4 GHz, 2 x 4 MB L2 Cache, FSB1066, $237)

Other parts:

  • MSI P45 Platinum (MS-7512) motherboard on Intel P45
  • 2 x 1 GB DDR2-800 Corsair 5-5-5-15 memory
  • 500 GB Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 SATA HDD, 7200 rpm
  • AOC 416V 24" monitor
  • Windows XP SP2, NVIDIA Quadro Performance Driver 176.04
  • 1280x1024 resolution
  • SPECviewpref 10, available here.


We've run the above-mentioned tests for all combinations of graphics cards and processors.

For your convenience, you can use the interactive calculator below:



Test results:

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