Most people do not have sufficient knowledge about GPUs and the various intricacies of AutoCAD. This can lead to them making unnecessary expenditures and making mistakes.
You should make yourself familiar with GPUs if you want to buy one of the best graphics cards for AutoCAD.
However, tech-savvy individuals can identify their needs and make purchases accordingly. Having knowledge about the level of your work and which GPU you can use to suffice the need is imperative.
Ill-informed whales may end up buying an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090 for basic AutoCAD but the similitude of this dynamic is like cracking open a walnut with a hydraulic press.
So, in the end, it comes down to the fact that it is not a rule of thumb that only workstation-grade GPUs can handle AutoCAD.
Given your requirements and the amount of output you expect, you can manage to fulfill your needs on smaller GPUs.
Consumer-grade GPUs can be in some cases, more suitable for AutoCAD if it is to be used by an individual only.
This guide elucidates the different GPUs along with their prices and capabilities so that it can become clear where your expenditure is a smart move, and where it starts to become a blunder.
List of Best Graphics Cards for AutoCAD in 2021
- Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Super- An affordable consumer-grade graphics card
- AMD RX 5700 XT- A mid-range consumer-grade card
- AMD Radeon Pro WX 7100- An affordable AMD workstation-grade graphics card
- NVIDIA Quadro P2200 – Affordable NVIDIA workstation-grade card
- Nvidia GeForce GTX 2070 Super – A high-end consumer-grade card
- NVIDIA Quadro P4000 – Mid Range Workstation Grade
1. Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Super- An affordable consumer-grade graphics card
The Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Super brings with it superior performance in a reasonable price. This $affordable GPU provides and competes with rivaling cards that have a much higher price tag making it one of the best graphics cards for AutoCAD.
The GTX 1650 Super is an idealistic GPU for users that have a reasonable need but have a limited budget.
Featuring Nvidia’s Turing Architecture, the GTX 1650 Super is ideal for light AutoCAD users. It comes with multiple video output ports.
This feature makes it easier for users to connect multiple screens and conduct their activities easily.
The Nvidia GTX 1650 Super requires a 470W power supply for optimal usage. This is somewhat reasonable and is easier for low-budget consumers. The card features 12gbps GDDR6 as compared to its predecessor; the GTX 1650.
The Nvidia GTX 1650S falls at par with AMD’s 500 series. For comparison, the RX 590 was taken and it was seen that while the AMD card was 3% more efficient.
In return, however, the GTX 1650S can be brought for a much lesser price (10% lesser). While the 3% is not that much effective to the buyer’s decision, that juicy drop in the price for the 1650 Super can strike a chord much better.
2. AMD RX 5700 XT- A mid-range consumer-grade card
This mid range card comes with an 8 GB GDDR6 memory (unlike the 1650 Super’s 4 GB) and when compared to the Nvidia 1650 Super, it is much more capable for running advanced AutoCAD functions.
In terms of effective speed, the AMD RX 5700 XT is 75% better than the Nvidia GeForce 1650 Super.
When it came to talking about features like lifetime, reflection and parallax, the AMD RX 5700 XT was said to be 125% better than the Nvidia 1650 Super.
So, why would an AutoCAD user want to invest in this? That is so because the AMD RX 5700 XT is great for more complex functions like 3D drawing and rendering, drawing and editing polylines, splines etcetera.
If you are designing a simple, one room or one-story structure and your usual need does not go beyond this level of designing, then you don’t need to get the RX 5700 XT. Your need can be fulfilled by cards like the 1650 Super.
But if you are going big and you are designing some multi-storied, complex building, then you should go for the RX 5700 XT. It is a medium priced option and remains one of the best graphics cards for AutoCAD one can buy.
3. AMD Radeon Pro WX 7100- An affordable AMD workstation-grade graphics card
The price tag is quite a reasonable price to pay for a workstation grade GPU and it is among one of the reasons the WX 7100 is a popular choice.
The competition for the WX 7100 was the Nvidia Quadro P4000. A comparison showed that in terms of overall performance, Nvidia Quadro surpassed the WX 7100 by 54.4%. The WX 7100 had 25% more pipelines compared to the P4000.
Furthermore, the WX 7100’s bandwidth was a decent 224 GB/s compared to the P4000’s 192 GB/s. They both shared the same memory, and overlooking the vast difference of performance score, the competition is fairly close in other aspects.
So should you buy the WX 7100? Mostly, workstation grade GPUs are used by professionals and industry-level designers. The need for high end GPUs increases with the level of the complexity of the desired work.
So, if you are a professional and you can’t work with the consumer-grade GPUs, you should go for workstation-grade GPU.
The WX 7100 is good for people on a budget looking to buy one of the best graphics cards for AutoCAD, and who deal with 3D designing on a higher level than most individuals.
4. NVIDIA Quadro P2200 – Affordable NVIDIA workstation-grade card
The Quadro P2200 is another workstation-grade GPU released by Nvidia in June 2019. It surpasses the WX 7100 in being an affordable workstation grade card. This price is way lesser than that of the WX 7100.
It is an interesting point that the RX 5700 XT, which is a consumer grade graphics card, is more expensive than the P2200. However, despite this, it is one of the best graphics cards for AutoCAD.
However, in the comparison between the Quadro P2200 and the WX 7100, it was seen that the former was 47.4% better in overall performance.
Although the RAM of the P2200 is 5 GB GDDR5X compared to the WX 7100’s 8 GB GDDR5, it is better in performance. The Quadro P2200 has a memory bandwidth of 200.2 GB/s compared to the 224.0 GB/s of the WX 7100.
For AutoCAD users, the main appeal in this card is the fact that it is a workstation-grade card and it is quite inexpensive compared to the alternatives.
This card is ideal for professionals who work with 3D and complex modeling and simulations. Using this card, designers can create detailed models with complex 3D details without any issue or lag.
5. Nvidia GeForce GTX 2070 Super – A high-end consumer-grade card
The Nvidia GeForce GTX 2070 Super is a high-end consumer-grade graphics card. With a mid range price tag, this card is for AutoCAD users whose requirement involves complex designing, rendering and simulation.
Although there are workstation-grade cards like the Quadro P2200 available in this price range, this card is ideal for customers who can bear this expense and are looking for some juiced-up performance in their AutoCAD endeavors.
When talking about the best graphics cards for AutoCAD, it is imperative to mention the Nvidia GeForce GTX 2070 Super.
To give you a nice idea about the performance of the 2070 Super, we will compare it to the Rx 5700 XT, which we discussed before.
However, it is only fair to point out that the $100 difference in their price can be deemed as fair justification for the lesser performance by the 5700 XT.
The 2070 Super is great for individuals who use Solidworks, AutoCAD 3D and other GPU-intensive programs.
It is a good card for designers who want to create detailed designs, analyze and instill complexity in their models using 3D CAD functions. For people who don’t mind spending some money for boosted-performance, the 2070 Super is a good choice.
6. NVIDIA Quadro P4000 – Mid Range Workstation Grade
With a price of ~$800 on release, it is neither that expensive nor too cheap. It provides decent performance for CAD users who want to do complex and detailed 3D designing.
The Quadro P4000 had 30% lesser power consumption than the Radeon Pro WX 7100.
The Quadro P4000 was released one year later than the WX 7100. In terms of memory clock speed, the P4000 was 9% faster. The RAM was same on both cards.
The P4000 is capable of connecting multiple monitors with 5k display.
The 8 GB of GDDR5 memory provides the option of creating detailed simulations that
can help CAD users project their designs and ideas better. It is great for designing, conducting analysis and creating walkthroughs for structures with precise detail and realistic rendering.
Being a workstation-grade card, it is typically the choice of professionals and veterans in leading industries as one of the best graphics cards for AutoCAD.
Additional Resources for CAD
A Guide to choosing the Best Graphics Cards for AutoCAD
What are the Official Requirements for AutoCAD?
There is something you should know about GPU requirements for running AutoCAD. The requirements depend completely on your need.
There is not a certain minimum benchmark that a GPU must have in order to be eligible for running AutoCAD. Even iGPUs (Integrated GPUs) can run the base functions but doing so will only yield a barely passable performance.
Basically, the magnitude of the workload is determined by the nature of your task. 3D drawing and rendering is ‘graphic intensive’ and requires a sturdy GPU.
However,more most part AutoCAD is 2D. This means that it is LESS DEMANDING in terms of graphics processing power. While AutoCAD can run at a snail’s pace on integrated GPUs, getting a dedicated GPU will speed the process up and provide better performance.
Similarly, the size of the workforce also plays a role in determining what type of GPU you should get. For individuals, a consumer-grade GPU will be sufficient.
However, individuals can also suffice on iGPUs if their needs are basic enough. But using only iGPUs, especially nowadays, is unconventional and typically unheard of.
For a more complex scope of work, or more power intensive tasks such as 3D drawing, workstation-grade GPUs are used instead. However, it should be noted that workstation-grade GPUs are not some idealistic must-acquire items. For most sole users, consumer-grade GPUs or even iGPUs can be sufficient and for them, spending on a workstation-graded GPU is stupidity.
What is consumer-grade GPU?
Consumer-grade GPUs are the Graphics Processing Units that are generally used by individuals and sole proprietors. They are less expensive, generally weaker in terms of processing power and they don’t come with a lot of perks.
All this is in comparison to workstation-grade GPU. After reading this definition, you may be thinking that there is no use in buying a consumer-grade GPU and you should only go for workstation grade GPUs.
But that is not the case. If you are a sole user and your desired work is not power intensive, then buying a consumer-grade GPU is more than enough. When talking about AutoCAD, you can even make do with iGPUs since the rendering and drawing is 2D.
Consumer-grade equipment generally refers to the products used by the masses. Similarly, in the case of GPUs, the people in general are inclined to buy the reasonably priced products that can suffice their needs.
In contrast to the consumer-grade GPUs, there is workstation-grade GPUs. For lack of a better comparison, we can simply call these two as ‘Consumer scale’ and ‘Industrial scale’ products.
This should give you an idea about their difference and where they are used. And just as a consumer will not use an industrial scale item, a person whose need can be easily met with consumer-grade GPUs should NOT resort unnecessarily to a workstation-grade GPU.
What is workstation-grade GPU?
Workstation-grade GPUs are used by companies, large teams or even by individuals who have a very high requirement for their GPU.
As the above example explained, workstation-grade units are much more capable than consumer-grade GPUs. In comparison, they are expensive, stronger in processing power and can bear hefty loads.
When talking about AutoCAD, although it may run smoothly on consumer-grade GPUs, workstation-grade GPU become necessary if there is to be extensive multi-tasking, heavy workloads and hefty usage.
Consumer-grade GPUs are available in different types. There are some that are not that good and barely live up to the name of dedicated GPUs.
However, there are some consumer-grade GPUs that are exceptional in their performance and their specifications fall at par with workstation-grade GPUs.
A good example of this is that of Nvidia Quadro 4000 and GTX 1070. The Quadro line by Nvidia is workstation-grade while the GeForce (GTX) is consumer-grade.
So, in this comparison, we see that both these GPUs have roughly the same specs. They have the same chip i.e. GP104, the same memory size i.e. 8 GB and so forth.
Furthermore, it was seen that when it came to running AutoCAD, they were both equally matched. This was commendable as it proved the consumer-grade GPU’s utility.
But the workstation-grade GPU was obviously superior in general regard and it showed it in the other comparisons conducted between the two.
Should you invest in a workstation-grade GPU for CAD?
That depends. If you feel like your need is not fulfilled with consumer-grade GPUs or you feel like your tasks will require more processing power, then you can go ahead and buy the workstation-grade GPU. The option is there.
Similarly, if your need is getting fulfilled but you would prefer a smoother experience and quicker processing, you can also go for the workstation-grade GPU.
It should be kept in mind that they are much more costly than the consumer-grade alternatives.
Are workstation-grade GPU worth investing in? Yes, they are definitely worth investing in. Workstation-grade GPUs typically have ECC memory, which provides error correction to calculations.
This is imperative when you are using the GPU for advance functions and important tasks such as architecture.
Furthermore, the companies favor their workstation-grade products by providing various forms of perks and exclusive support options.
Workstation-grade units come with after-sales support, which basically involves aid and assistance from the company in the case of an error or mishap. Keeping these advantages in sight, you will see that they are worth investing in if you have the financial capability.
Is integrated graphics card sufficient for AutoCAD?
That depends. An integrated graphics card is not completely incapable of running AutoCAD. In fact, it can run most basic functions and prove to be quite sufficient for users with a limited need.
Most individuals who use AutoCAD in a limited capacity are happy with iGPUs as these GPUs don’t have a problem running the basic 2D drawing and rendering functions of AutoCAD.
So, the answer to your question is that it depends on your need. Although hearing the word iGPUs brings to mind a flimsy and light processing unit, in reality, this is not the case.
Different levels of GPUs are made for different sorts of people with varying scopes of work.
A person who uses the most basic functions of AutoCAD and has no plan whatsoever to upgrade his quality of work should be more than happy with the iGPU.
Who should invest in a workstation-grade GPU?
People who normally invest in workstation-grade GPUs are experienced professionals and veterans in top-tier industries and people who use power-intensive CAD software on a regular basis.
If the CAD software you are using is 3D, you will need more processing power and your GPU needs to be adequate enough to handle this load. Software like Solidworks provides 3D CAD designs and thus, needs a more capable GPU. Other similar software includes Autodesk Inventions, Fusion 360 and CATIA.
So, basically, this sort of high level designing is usually done with professionals and people working in companies and various industries.
They can also be used by sole users as well. Thus, we can say that the people who have to use this type of software on a regular basis should invest in workstation-grade GPUs.
Who should invest in a consumer-grade GPU for AutoCAD?
Among other things, the one thing that sets consumer-grade GPUs apart from workstation-grade GPU is the flexibility and the varying price ranges.
This can be elaborated by the fact that if someone has decided to buy their very first consumer-grade GPU but their work is simple and quite ordinary; they can simply look for one in their price range which will be enough for their needs as well.
But, just to clear the concept, if you have decided to buy a workstation-grade GPU, you are going to make a HEAVY expenditure.
There is not much elbow room in workstation-grade GPUs with regard to prices. If you want to buy one, you are going to have to spend some dough.
But with consumer-grade GPUs, you can simply buy a processing unit that fulfills your need. If your need is little and simple, so will be the price of your desired GPU.
To help you understand, take the RX 550 and the RX 6800 XT. They are both from AMD’s consumer-grade GPU line.
However, the price of the former falls under $100 (approx. $85 on Amazon) while for the latter, AMD recommended a price of $650. And between these two extremes are NUMEROUS options you can buy.
This means that ANYONE from beginners, amateurs to professionals can buy a consumer-grade GPU. They can decide depending on their budget and their need.
AutoCAD is used by all sorts of users around the world. From students, normal consumers to industries and big companies, everyone uses AutoCAD.
It is imperative that one must know which GPU they must purchase to adequately meet their needs.
Small scale users can suffice on consumer-grade GPUs or even iGPUs (depending on their work) while professionals and large companies have to resort to workstation-grade GPUs.
In this guide, a comprehensive explanation of GPUs along with AutoCAD requirements was give.
Furthermore, some of the best graphics cards for AutoCAD were also discussed so that you can know where to spend your money and which cards can be enough for your needs.