Which graphics card to choose?

The world of graphics cards can be confusing, and choosing the right card for your needs often comes down to budget.

But there is also brand, NVIDIA or AMD? Simply put, NVIDIA cards are faster and better suited for media production, so we focus on NVIDIA.

So having focused on NVIDIA, the next question is Quadro or GeForce? On the surface at least, you could be forgiven for thinking that GeForce cards are only for gaming, and the marketing of these cards certainly back that up, but the GeForce range are the right choice for many media based workflows also.

In simple terms, think of the Quadro cards for applications such as CAD and 3D rendering, and the GeForce range for Video production workflows. Imaging application such as PhotoshopLightroomDXO Photolab and Phase One Capture One, can use either.

Blackmagic Design Davinci Resolve and Adobe Premiere

Davinci Resolve makes full use of your graphics card for timeline based effects playback, and an exporting of the final video. Davinci Resolve gives yo the choice to output NATIVE which uses the CPU, or if you have an NVIDIA graphics card installed, the NVIDIA option will make full use of the cards CUDA cores to export your video and do so at a far greater speed than your CPU.

I testing we have done with an Intel Core i9 9900K, and a NVIDIA Quadro P4000, we are getting output at frame rates twice as fast through use of the NVIDIA graphics card, on a 25FPS 4K project. With the CPU we get around about real time output at 25 FPS, with the NVIDIA Quadro P4000 we get around 55-60 FPS, which is a significant gain in output speed. By using a GeForce RTX 2080 Ti that has more than double the CUDA Cores of the Quadro P4000, you can expect far greater output speed again.

Adobe Premiere uses the GPU less than Davinci Resolve but Adobe are making more and more use of the GPU with each update, so it is still an important part of your system now, and more so in the near future if you are an Adobe Premiere user.

Autodesk and 3D Modelling

Autodesk MAYA makes great use of the graphics card for rendering and playback. You can use either Quadro or GeForce cards, but if you look at their recommended list the Quadro cards are “Certified”, whereas the GeForce cards are only”tested” For this reason it is recommended to stick with Quadro cards.

Adobe Photoshop/Lightroom, Affinity Photo, DXO Photolab and Capture 1

Adobe has yet to take full advantage of the graphics card in either Photoshop or Lightroom. While Lightroom’s support is virtually nil, Photoshop requires a compatible card, but then makes little use of it compared to other applications and benefits little by a more expensive graphics card.

Affinity Photo uses primarily CPU but on occasion it does make use of the graphics card to varying degrees, so like Photoshop a GeForce RTX 2060 would suffice, over a more expensive card.

If you are a photographer working on RAW images using Phase One Capture 1 or DXO Photolab, then a graphics card is much much in use, more so in Capture 1 and in particular during export of images. Both apps use the graphics card when opening images and zooming images. A midrange card such as Quadro P4000 or a GeForce 2060 and up would do nicely.

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