Graphics Cards for Civil 3D: Rule of Thumb

I spec’ed out my new desktop a few weeks ago. Every day, a package has arrived and been
stacked on my table.

Finally, today, the UPS website let me know that the last piece was to arrive today- the motherboard.

I raced home through Hurricane Whoever to meet Mr. Brown at the door
before he left me a “Sorry We Missed You” slip and left me in the rain without a computer
to build until Tuesday.

Since my husband is one of these “Never Trust Intel” type guys, we have always built our own machines, and he has very particular rules about where and what to buy. This time, we almost had to seek couples therapy over the video card.

My husband swore that a gamer card would be good enough, but I did my homework and I
decided that in order to be a good member of the Autodesk extended family, and to
prevent any possible issues, I needed one of the Certified Cards Autodesk Certified Cards

Basically, it boils down to this:

Your Graphics Card should cost at least as much as your first car.

In 1996, I paid $400 for a 1983 Mazda GLC with no paint.

My graphics card, an ATI FireGL V5200 set me back $479.99

So I’m good. How about you?


  1. What makes you say that you need a 500 buck video card?
    I am honestly curious, as I have been buying systems with crappy, quadro 540-550, video cards and don’t know if they are unacceptable.
    Haven’t heard complaints but sometimes they take awhile.

  2. my dear hubby just got some radeon something or other that we’ve installed tonight… we just needed to pick up a new power supply… only problem… there is an on/off button on the new one, but, not on the old one… therefore, no hold for the button to fit into… his tools arrived earlier this week, so he started trying to drill through his pc case… I finally told him to go get a new drill bit, and he did. Through in two seconds flat. We got the power supply and card all hooked up and he is happy as a clam. ­čśë Good for him. There were no ‘adesk approved’ video cards availbale for my Dell Inspiron laptop, but, I think I’ll do alright anyway. ~fingers crossed~

  3. This is supposed to be a bit tongue-n-cheek, John, not necessarily a “real” rule of thumb.

    I don’t know for sure if I need a $500 graphics card, but we’ll see.

    I really wanted the $700 one but the look in Bob’s eyes led me to believe he’ rather me spend the extra $200 on shoes.

    I’d really like to push the limits of the rendering capabilities once I get that “perfect” site- the one where I have been able to get everything to be intelligent.

    We shall see.

  4. Jason Hickey says:

    Uh, there’s no way I’m going to buy an $1800 video card. Esp. for my laptop ­čśë

    In case you’re wondering, 1977 Dodge D-100 pickup, baby-poo green.

    Anyway, I digress.

    I’ve noticed a marked difference between my Raedon card in my old Inspiron laptop and the new Quadro FX go1400 that’s in my Precision laptop. The extra 128 MB RAM can’t hurt, but this one is actually certified, and does seem to crash less than the old one did, plus I don’t have time for a cup of coffee to make object viewer work ­čśë

  5. Nick Zeeben says:

    Certified or not. As long as the card supports open gl. Which non of the gamer cards do. That is the important piece here.

  6. Another thing was I followed two sets of minimum specs when I made this computer.

    I checked out the Civil 3D 2007 Specs:
    Intel® Pentium® IV processor, 3 GHz or higher
    Microsoft® Windows® XP Professional or Home Edition (SP2), Windows XP Tablet PC Edition (SP2), or Windows 2000 (SP4)
    2 GB RAM
    5 GB free disk space for installation
    1280×1024 with true color, OpenGL├é┬«-capable workstation class graphics card or DirectX├é┬« 9 support

    and the AutoCAD 2007 Specs List #2 for People Who Want to Use it for 3D:

    Intel® processor 3.0 GHz or greater
    Windows XP Professional (SP2)
    2 GB RAM or greater
    2 GB of disk space available, not including installation
    1280×1024 32-bit color video display adapter (true color)
    128 MB or greater, OpenGL®-capable workstation class graphics card.

    I picked the best of both and went with it.

    If I am going to be a rockstar- I need a instrument that can stand up to the lights.

    Most Civil 3D users (read: Land Desktop users) never even use Object Viewer let alone render. And they probably would only find the new AutoCAD 3D tools by accident if they switched workspaces the wrong way (and would call me to complain and help them get back to normal).

    So a lesser video card may not be a big deal at all.

  7. The Dinosaur says:

    Well I am going to really push the (lower) limits for video cards next week. I will be rying 2007 with my on board 32mb S3. Yes I know there should be no way, but vanilla AutoCAD was able to just deal with it so I am going to try. There is no choice anyway – it either works or that computer can’t use 2007.

  8. Carlos Marquez says:

    now series 8, 9 support open gl 2.1, so you can work with civil3d and play games.