Time to upgrade the video card and it’s been a tough decision.  “Professional 3D card” like nVidia’s Quadro versus a consumer grade gaming card like the GeForce cards.  Is there a difference?  There’s a lot of debate out there, but it ultimately depends on the budget and how the card is going to be used.  I’m a professional 3D animator who does quite a bit of character work in packages like Maya, but I also do some FX work in Houdini and some digital sculpting in 3D Coat.  Houdini and 3D Coat can take advantage of the CUDA cores and according to this thread in the 3D Coat forums, the CUDA performance has been degraded in recent releases on the GeForce cards. They seem to be settling on the Geforce GTX 580.

After much research, I’ve decided to replace my Quadro 600 card.  It has been reliable and doesn’t consume much power, but the frame-rates are killing my eyes.  I’ve opted for the Geforce GTX 580 w/ 3GB of RAM.  Cost me $260, used on Amazon.   The other option I was considering was the Quadro 4000 w/ 2GB of RAM…  but I would have had to talk a seller down from $450.  Considering the benchmarks and the stats below… well… I’m going to take a gamble on a “non-professional” card.

Quadro 600
CUDA = 96
mem interface = 128
max power = 40w

GeForce GTX 580
$389 (or $225 used)
RAM = 1.5GB
CUDA cores = 512
mem interface = 192
max power = 244 W

Quadro K4000
CUDA cores = 768
mem interface = 192
max power consumption = 80W

Quadro 4000
$665 (or $430 used)
CUDA cores = 256
mem interface = 256
max power consumption = 142W

Quadro K2000
CUDA cores = 384
interface = 128 bit
max power = ?

Here’s some links to some of the Quadro vs GeForce debates.