Finding the Best Graphics Cards for AutoCAD
The graphics card manufacturers nVidia and AMD divide their product lines into gamer graphics cards and models for professional applications. Gamer graphics cards are optimized for 3D games. The focus of these gaming cards is on the speed of the moving images, not on image quality and accuracy. A 3D model of a game consists of a small amount of polygons. In comparison, the number of polygons in a 3D CAD model, like AutoCAD is many times higher. The focus of graphics cards for professional users is primarily on the quality of the image in order to be able to display wireframe, solid and shadow models accurately. Professional graphics cards have an optimized graphics card memory usage and the graphics card driver supplied by the chip manufacturer fits your graphics card exactly.
Install the graphics card driver via Clean-Install exclusively with the graphics card drivers offered on the homepage of the respective manufacturer. The Clean-Install option removes all previously loaded graphics card drivers.
Test Results: Best Graphics Cards for AutoCAD
Ranking First: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080
- 2944 GPU-Cores
- 1710 MHz Boost Clock
- 11GB of GDDR6 memory
Best performance graphics card for AutoCAD
Nvidia’s flagship RTX 2080 is the first Turing Architecture card of the 2000 series on the market and the first one to carry the name RTX and not GTX, which reflects the new technology it supports for real-time ray tracing. This feature is supported in a select number of recent games – and looks fantastic – but it is not yet widely used. It is the overall leap in hardware specification over previous generations of GeForce that makes the RTX 2080 the first choice.
It’s this leap that makes the RTX 2080 our first choice. With this generation, Nvidia has increased the number of Cuda cores from the GTX 1080 and introduced new dedicated hardware RT cores for ray tracing and tensor cores for 3D arithmetic. The RTX 2080 also uses a new GDDR6 memory with higher bandwidth, although it remains at 8 GB, as with the GTX 1080.
In games, you can expect around 50 percent better performance than with the top-end card of the previous generation, the GTX 1080 Ti. And in design software, the improved application performance also means better Cuda and OpenGL acceleration – surpassing many of the current Quadro models in some tests, with additional support for Cuda 7.5.
Verdict: Best performing graphics card for AutoCAD
However, explosive internet arguments followed Nvidia’s price announcement, with the RTX 2080 being priced higher than the GTX 1080 at launch, as it is certainly heavy on the wallet. However, buying an RTX 2080 is a good investment – because everything else is unlikely to outperform it for some time. Especially for the use of CAD applications like AutoCAD the RTX 2080Ti is unbeatable.
Ranking Second: AMD Radeon VII
- 3840 GPU-Cores
- 1800 MHz Boost Clock
- 16GB of HBM2 memory
- Can be a bit noisy under load
- No CUDA
Great graphics card for AutoCAD
The latest Radeon VII graphics card (code name Vega 20) targets the high-end graphics market, breaking AMD’s tradition of simply offering better Bang for the Buck than what Nvidia offers. The Radeon VII is at home in the gaming arena with the GeForce RTX 2070 and is especially suited for high-resolution creative work, like in AutoCAD, thanks to a massive 16 GB of super-fast HBM2 memory and outstanding OpenCL performance.
Verdict: Great performing graphics card for AutoCAD
However, this new generation of AMD cards costs a little more, and is above all a little louder and hotter than the offerings from Nvidia. Also missing is the hardware support for raytracing that the RTX cards have, which can be a decisive factor in a purchase decision if you are not influenced by the additional storage capacity of the Radeon VII. If you don’t want to spend too much money for a good graphics card for AutoCAD, but still want a lot of power, the Radeon VII is a great option.
Ranking Third: AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT
- High speed 4K, WQHD and Full HD gaming
- Works silently during video playback and office applications
- Great graphics card for AutoCAD
- Best price-performance ratio
- Slightly high power consumption
Best price-performance ratio graphics card for AutoCAD
If you want to really game and do processing intensive graphics work, like in AutoCAD, you’ll have to spend at least400 Dollar for your graphics card. Unfortunately there is currently no competitive chip from AMD in this price range. This is to change with the new RX 5700, which Powercolor is now planting on its RX 5700 Red Dragon (“red dragon”) graphics card and which Techtestreport has now tested. Also in the test: a reference graphics card with the larger RX-5700-XT chip.
Radeon RX 5700 (XT): New manufacturing process
Everything up to scratch: Like the first Ryzen processors, the new navigation graphics processors are intended to mark a new beginning for AMD. After all, AMD had no graphics chips on offer up to now that could keep up with Nvidia’s Turing models. Now AMD wants to make life difficult for the opponent with the navi chips. That Nvidia has to be careful can be seen in the example of the processors – at first smiled at, the Ryzen CPUs chased away valuable market shares from the competitor Intel. And AMD is even taking a pioneering role with the navigation graphics chips:
The models Radeon RX 5700 XT and RX 5700 are the first graphics processors ever that AMD has produced with fine 7-nanometer structures at the semiconductor manufacturer TSMC. The advantage: even more circuits (transistors) can be accommodated on the same chip area. The fingernail-sized navigation GPUs (251 mm2) accommodate a whopping 10.3 billion circuits. This means that calculations for a higher speed can be distributed even better. And thanks to finer structures, the circuits are closer together. This shortens the switching paths, increases speed once again and reduces energy consumption.
Radeon RX 5700 (XT): New architecture
Not only the manufacturing process is new, but also the architecture – AMD now calls it Radeon DNA (RDNA). The Radeon RX 5700 XT chip contains 2,560 computing units, which AMD combines into 40 groups (Compute Units) with 64 computing units each. On the standard version RX 5700, 2,304 cores work in 36 compute units with 64 computing units each. The clock frequencies of the computing units vary between 1,465 and 1,980 megahertz depending on the model and application. New: In addition to basic clock and boost clock, AMD has introduced a so-called game clock – the frequencies are exactly between basic and turbo.
Radeon RX 5700 (XT): GDDR6
The faster graphics memory should also provide for more speed: All of the RX-5700 chips presented have a total of 8 gigabytes of memory of the nimble type GDDR6 at their side. The data exchange between memory and GPU is supposed to take place via 256 data lines, AMD specifies the speed for the swapping of data such as textures and polygons at 448 gigabits per second.
AMD Radeon RX 5000 series models
|model||RX 5700 XT||RX 5700||RX 5600 XT||RX 5500 XT|
|Series / chip||Navi 10 XT||Navi 10 XL||Navi 10||Navi 14|
|Raster power amplifiers||64||64||64||32|
|Clock GPU (base)||1.605 MHz||1,465 MHz||1,130 MHz||1,670 MHz|
|Clock GPU (game)||1,755 MHz||1,625 MHz||1,375 MHz||1.717 MHz|
|Clock GPU (Turbo)||1.905 MHz||1,725 MHz||1,560 MHz||1,845 MHz|
|Memory (type)||8 GB (GDDR6)||8 GB (GDDR6)||6 GB (GDDR6)||8 GB (GDDR6)|
|Storage interface||256 bits||256 bits||192 bits||128 bit|
|PCI Express version||4.0||4.0||4.0||4.0|
|Memory pace||448 Gbps||448 Gbps||288 Gbps||224 Gbps|
|TDP||225 watts||180 watts||150 watts||150 watts|
|Price (at time of test)||400$||350$||300$||250$|
Radeon RX 5700 (XT): PCI Express 4.0
Also new: The navi graphics chips are not only the first 7-nanometer graphics chips, but also the first picture makers with PCI Express 4.0 connection. Instead of the theoretical 16 gigabytes per second (PCI-Express 3.0, x16), up to 32 gigabytes per second of data such as polygons and textures can be scooped back and forth between processor and graphics chip. To achieve this transfer speed, users need a new motherboard with AMD’s X570 chipset. Good: Cards with AMD’s navigation chips can also be used on motherboards with PCI Express 3.0 slots.
Radeon RX 5700 (XT): Super fast
And what do the many technical innovations bring? Really a lot of speed! In the test, both the RX 5700 Red Dragon and the RX 5700 XT showed even lavishly programmed titles such as “Battlefield V” in 4K with 3840×2160 pixels in full detail rendering with a nice fluidity. The Powercolor RX 5700 Red Dragon even beat graphics cards with Nvidias chip GeForce RTX 2060 in the test, the RX 5700XT was faster than Bildmacher with Nvidias GPUs GeForce RTX 2070. But they weren’t as fast as the models with the abbreviation “Super”. The RTX 2060 Super beat the RX 5700 in the test, the RTX 2070 Super was faster than the RX 5700XT – the following comparison shows that.
Radeon RX 5700 (XT): A bit hot, not hungry for electricity
However, the chips developed a bit too much heat in the test under full load: Techtestreport measured just under 70 degrees on the RX 5700 and a good 75 degrees on the RX 5700 XT. Good for it: The power consumption was moderate – and on the level of the competition. The entire test PC with the RX 5700 needed 327 watts under full load, an average of 262 watts when playing games and 65 watts in office mode. The RX 5700 XT used 443 watts under full load, averaging 310 watts and 65 watts for office applications (RTX 2060 Super: 410/256/69 watts, RTX 2070 Super: 436/286/61 watts).
Verdict: Best price-performance ratio graphics card for AutoCAD
Nvidia’s comparable graphics chips, RTX 2060 Super and RTX 2070 Super, are a bit faster than the RX 5700 Red Dragon and RX 5700XT models, but the given performance is still remarkable. Because with the new graphics chips AMD has now finally again competitive picture makers in its program – at lower retail prices.
With the RX 5700 XT, AMD finally has a competitive graphics chip in the 400 Dollar class. Nvidia’s Geforce RTX 2060 Super works about 3 percent faster, but RX-5700-XT graphics cards are cheaper. This makes the 5700XT our price performance winning graphics cards for AutoCAD.
How to configure your workstation for AutoCAD
AutoCAD was originally developed by Autodesk as a simple CAD editor for the creation of technical drawings. Today the program has extensive 3D functions for modelling objects for mechanical engineers, designers and architects. Following our hardware recommendation:
Which processor is the right one for AutoCAD?
When choosing the right CPU, two factors play an important role. 1. the frequency (MHz) influences how many arithmetic operations a single CPU core can perform per second 2. the number of CPU cores indicates how many physical CPU cores are present within a CPU. Whether a higher frequency or a higher number of cores is more advantageous depends on the development of the CAD program. The question is: Is my program able to use multiple CPU cores? The CAD system AutoCAD is a frequency-bound application and uses a processor core for the creation of drawings. To improve CPU performance, we advise you to disable the Hyper-Threading Mode setting in the BIOS. From version AutoCAD 2016 on, a second processor core is integrated for regeneration. We recommend a workstation optimized for single-threaded workflows with a Xeon Quad-Core processor with a high MHz clocking from 3.5 GHz. You can find a detailed report about the difference between Intel Xeon and Intel Core processors in our MediaWiki.
Plan the memory usage for your AutoCAD drawings
The size and complexity of your AutoCAD models determine how much memory is required. AutoCAD uses up to 75% of the memory available on the system when loading or saving a drawing. For 2D drawings we recommend an AutoCAD workstation with 16 GB RAM. However, if you are dealing with very large 3D models and renderings or have a large number of files open at the same time, you may consider upgrading to 32 GB or more. Due to the fact that most users usually have more programs than AutoCAD running on their system, we recommend a workstation with 32 GB RAM and eight memory banks. Make sure that four memory channels have the same amount of RAM. Ideally, four additional free memory banks are available for a RAM upgrade. We recommend the use of ECC memory modules. The Error Correcting Code memory (ECC RAM) automatically corrects memory errors in the background and thus prevents a serious system crash. An absolute must-have for all professional users in design, development, simulation or modeling.
The optimal graphics card for 2D or 3D Auto CAD models
The faster the graphics card, the better the performance in terms of frames per second. Nvidia Geforce graphics cards appear to be a good option due to the good price-performance ratio. Unfortunately, Geforce cards are not officially certified for use in AutoCAD by Autodesk. If you have a support contract with AutoCAD, we recommend using certified graphics cards from AMD or Nvidia. AutoCAD will refuse support if you are not using certified graphics cards. AutoCAD provides you with optimized graphics card drivers for each version. For AutoCAD 2020 we recommend an nVidia Quadro P2000 or an AMD Radeon Pro XW5100, at least 4GB VRAM and compatible with DirectX 11.
AutoCAD with optimal system performance
Round off your system with a high-performance solid state disk. Make a conscious decision for an SSD with fast access rates. We recommend using an M.2 SSD from Samsung Model 960 Pro in storage sizes from 500 GB to 2 TB. By using an M.2 SSD you are able to transfer data rates of up to 4GB per second. This corresponds to a 7-fold increase in performance compared to SATA hard drives.
Increase AutoCAD performance
Make sure that the latest driver for your AutoCAD program is installed. AutoDesk Updates (ServicePacks) are available for download at regular intervals.
Delete the graphics cache regularly. The command CACHEMAXFILES deletes the AutoCAD graphic cache.
Activate the hardware acceleration in your AutoCAD program. If your graphics card supports Open GL, you will increase the graphics performance and the productivity of your workflow with 3D models will improve significantly.
Use certified graphics card drivers for your AutoCAD program.
New features in AutoCAD 2020
- 50% time saving when installing on SSD hard drives
- Shorter storage times
- New modern design, significant contrast improvement and sharper symbols
- 2D: Better stability, more detailed reproduction and better performance
- faster 3D navigation
- direct comparison of two versions of a drawing in the current window (DWG comparison)
- Support for high-resolution displays, displaying designs on 4K resolution displays
Everything you need to know about graphics cards
The graphics card or graphics chip (GPU) is an essential part of any computer, along with the processor, hard disk and memory. It determines, roughly speaking, what your computer can do graphically. If you use your PC a lot to display graphic content – for example, for image processing, video games or animations, a powerful GPU is particularly important. But even if you use your computer or laptop primarily for word processing, it is worth thinking about the graphics card before buying. Because: If a simpler and therefore cheaper graphics card is enough for you, you can actively save money.
How to find the right graphics card for your PC
Especially if you are not very familiar with computer hardware it is often difficult to make an informed purchase decision. If you search for graphics cards on Amazon, for example, you are not only overwhelmed by the number of results, but also by the enormous price range – from 40 to over 1000 Euros – and the cryptic-looking names of the GPUs on offer. However, there are some useful clues to help you choose the right graphics card for your needs.
- Determine your needs: Depending on what you use your PC for, there are special graphics cards that are especially designed for video games or working with CAD programs. Therefore, before you buy, you should think about what requirements you have for your graphics card. This also applies if you buy an all-in-one PC or laptop. Above all, because with these you can often not upgrade the graphics card at all or only with difficulty.
- Collect comparative values: If you know what your graphics card is supposed to do, you can find out online which GPUs meet your requirements. Often it is also helpful to orientate yourself to the system requirements of the programs that you often use. There you will find a recommended graphics card for the respective program. You can then search for this or a comparable GPU online.
- Get expert opinion: Personal expert advice is also very helpful. Especially if you really don’t know your way around and don’t have the time to do your own research. But also as a second opinion the recommendation of a specialist dealer or a technically experienced friend is valuable.
- Compare prices: If you buy a GPU to retrofit your PC or to build a computer yourself, the price also plays a role of course. Look not only at catchy online retailers, but also at manufacturers’ websites and electronics stores to get the best price. If you don’t need the graphics card right away, you can also wait for discount offers such as the Cyber-Monday on Amazon.
Nvidia or AMD – The most important manufacturers at a glance
There are graphics cards from many companies, but the chips used are usually from one of the two major manufacturers – AMD or Nvidia. Both have a wide range of graphics cards for a number of different applications. AMD distributes the Radeon line of GPUs. Nvidia graphics cards run under the series name GeForce. These naming conventions remain the same even if the chips are built into graphics cards from manufacturers such as msi, Acer or Asus.
External and internal graphics cards – you should pay attention to this
As already mentioned, with some PCs and most laptops it is not possible or very difficult to retrofit a graphics card by yourself. In this case, external graphics cards (eGPUs) can help. These can be plugged into the computer and monitor and also have their own power supply and ventilation. Most eGPUs use Thunderbolt 3 for transmission because it enables high and high-quality transmission quality with minimal latency. Compared to an equivalent internal graphics card, you still have to accept losses. The external graphics cards are also still quite expensive. However, as a solution for non-upgradeable computers, they are not a bad option compared to a new purchase. But be careful: Often not only this kind of GPU is declared as external, but any graphics card sold separately. So pay attention to product pictures and descriptions.
Internal graphics cards are already installed when you buy your PC. Which GPU is installed is listed in the product information. If you buy a finished PC or laptop, you should pay attention to whether the graphics card is permanently installed or can be replaced. Especially gamers who want to play Triple-A titles can’t avoid replacing the graphics card every few years. If the graphics card is permanently installed, the only way to do this is to buy a new one, which can be very expensive, especially for high-end PCs.
Tips for buying: These criteria are important
In order to be able to compare single graphic cards with each other, one should know some technical terms that appear again and again in top lists and tests. They provide information about the performance of the respective GPU.
- VRAM type: Nowadays, graphics cards have their own intermediate and working memories instead of using the ones built into the PC. The current standard is GDDR 4 to GDDR 6, but for higher graphics requirements you should have at least a graphics card with GDDR 5.
- VRAM size: For complex graphics processes you also need a correspondingly large working memory. Gamers should choose a graphics card with at least six to eight GBytes. If you only use simple word processing and similar programs, you can get by with less.
- Bandwidth: The bandwidth determines how fast data is transferred.
- Clocking: The clock rate determines to a large extent what a graphics card can do and how smoothly games and other programs run. The base value, i.e. the average clock rate, is specified by the manufacturer in the product information in the unit megahertz. However, the actual value varies depending on the load and the effectiveness of the cooling.
- Type of cooling: Which cooling the graphics card uses has a not inconsiderable influence on the performance of the GPU. If it runs hot, the performance also suffers. The simplest form is passive cooling using waste heat. However, anyone who puts a lot of strain on their graphics card should always rely on active cooling. There are again two variants here. The most common is a simple fan. Higher priced graphic cards are also available with a water cooling, which is much quieter.
- Connections: The available connections for monitors and other devices are also crucial. For one thing, the graphics card must have a connection for the monitor that is compatible with your monitor. You can check which connections your monitor has yourself or consult the user manual. The number of connections is usually not a problem with a monitor. You have to be more careful if you have several monitors connected to your computer or if you use a graphics tablet, for example. If you have a 4K monitor and want to take full advantage of it, your graphics card must have an HDMI 2.0 or DisplayPort 1.2 connection.
- Video card bus: The bus is the interface between the GPU and the motherboard. There are different interfaces, namely ISA, PCI, AGP and PCI-Express. When buying a video card, it is important to determine which type of interface you need. You can find the interface of your motherboard either in the corresponding user manual or by means of programs such as CPU-Z, which can read the hardware characteristics of your computer.
- Performance: Do not only pay attention to the performance of your graphics card, but also make sure that it matches the performance level of your CPU. Only if your CPU is powerful enough, you can use the full potential of your graphics card.
We calculate the price estimate or price/performance evaluation from the achieved overall score and the current price for the product or service. In some cases we also take into account consumption costs, memory variants or display sizes when estimating the price.