mixing NVIDIA cards on workstation, irregular results, which to keep?

aotinae

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Feb 16, 2017
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Hi.

I'm new to this, and after spending the last couple months reading up online, then experimenting, try again, buy something new, repeat, I am finally hoping someone smarter than me can just resolve my questions once and for all.

Question
Which GPU(s) to keep, and which to get rid of?

Background
I built my first PC a year ago, and upgraded several components a couple months ago. I use this machine for Solidworks and Agisoft Photoscan. Solidworks likes NVIDIA Quadro GPUs, while Photoscan likes multiple, fast gaming GPUs. This is my own personal machine, so it isn't anything fancy, but all the more reason to get this right.

Goal:
To maximize performance in Solidworks and Photoscan. To do this, I am hoping that I can get the Quadro GPU to handle all Solidwork tasks, but then work together with a more powerful GPU in Photoscan. These cards are not linked in any way, but I've read that Photoscan, like some other programs, can divvy up the work between the two cards. The tests I've seen have been with two matching cards, but I've read that it's OK to mix them if they are both NVIDIA.

GPUs tried:
NVIDIA GTX 750i
NVIDIA GTX 1060 (3gb)
NVIDIA Quadro K2200
NVIDIA Quadro M2000

Tests:
I've used a built-in performance test in Solidworks and tried two GPU-aided jobs in Photoscan as benchmarks for each individual and also combinations of these GPUs.

Results:
Best results in Solidworks - using a Quadro K2200 with nothing, or the M2000 in the second PCI slot. If I have a GTX card in the second slot, then results are much worse in the graphics test (even though I read all over the web that Solidworks only uses the one GPU that it's plugged into).

Best results in Photoscan - in one test (align photos) was with a single K2200, and the other test (build dense point cloud) with the k2200 + GTX1060, which was only marginally better than 2xK2200. Amazingly, all Photoscan tests on my PC took twice the time that they took on my 2012 MacBook Pro! I would just use the laptop for photoscan but for the fact that I have some big datasets that are going to need a day or DAYS to process, AND I don't have the storage space on the laptop for the hi-res photos. This makes no sense, my PC is way faster...

Cinebench results are best when I use the K2200 in the primary card position, but when in the secondary card position (and the monitor plugged into the GTX1060), it still registers the K2200, but then underperforms and HW monitor shows the GTX was hardly utilized.

Thoughts/leads:
1. I found that since using the GTX1060 card, Solidworks says I need to update my GPU driver. I try and it can never complete the install. I tried downloading the driver for the 1060 on my own and updating and I get the same problem. Using Device Manager, I checked and it says both my K2200 and GTX1060 are using the correct drivers.

2. I used NVIDIA utility to try to designate which GPU handles regular tasks, and which is dedicated to graphics, but this functionality went away with the new GTX1060...I don't know why, it just doesn't even show it there to choose from.

3. I considered whether my PSU is just not handling the new GTX1060, but I used a calculator online to figure out how much power I need, and it came out to 450 (and I have a 650W PSU).

So I'm at a loss...
?Do I need to stop messing around with the GTX cards because they just aren't improving my results?

?The GTX1060 is faster and has more CUDA cores, so it SHOULD have a significant positive effect on Photoscan and in Cinebench, Is there something wrong here?

?Why would a second card, of whatever type, affect solidworks when it's only supposed to use the card the monitor is plugged in to?


Sorry for such a long post, I've been saving up my questions so I don't waste anyone's time when the answers are a search away. Thanks for any pointers.
 

iamacow

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Feb 11, 2015
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About 4-6 years ago (400 series / Quadro FX 5800) NVIDIA made it so Quadro cards work in Geforce drivers but Geforce cards will not work along side Quadro cards with Quadro Drivers (more than driving a second screen. The quadro will do all the rendering and pass it through). This was to sell the than new Telsa cards and stop people from buying a GTX 480 and save $2,500 versus the Telsa C200. That made sense from a marketing standpoint but hurt the average user.

However If you use Quadro cards with Geforce drivers you lose all the benefits of a Quadro card like wire-frame acceleration that Maya, CAD and Soildworks practically need to run smoothly. It becomes an expensive gaming card and a waste of money. Because of all the acceleration features Quadro drivers have, anything that is not CUDA based like all the above apps I mentioned, the k2200 will crush even a GTX 1080. On the other hand apps like photoshop that use some (not a lot) of CUDA functions could benefit from a gaming card like a GTX 1060.

The only way I can see two cards living in the same box is to dual boot. One for working with Soildworks and all those apps, and one for CUDA essential apps.

Sounds like to me the system is swapping drivers when you swap which card is first. It shouldn't do that, but windows is dumb.
 

aotinae

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Feb 16, 2017
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Thank you very much for the reply. That's very disappointing, of course, I guess I'll put both Quadro GPUs in and make some money back selling a barely used GTX1060.

I really appreciate the thoughtful reply.

Cheers,
z.

 

iamacow

Admirable
Feb 11, 2015
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Yeah I had the same problem for a while. Ended up using a 4800 FX for years because it ran better than all the Geforce cards. Than once I was done with 3D modelling and moved onto Photography and video editing I found a Geforce card much more useful (and loads more powerful CUDA wise). The only downside is gaming cards crash once in a while (once a week or so) so I save ever 10minutes where as I never had a Quadro crash a certified program.

Telsa cards are not cheap....
 

aotinae

Prominent
Feb 16, 2017
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Speaking of drivers.... the geforce and NVIDIA quadro drivers were competing somehow and finally were making life too miserable not to start over. I used the DDU application to wipe them, but couldn't install the latest driver, it kept failing. The common issue MOST of the time was that permission was denied to write into C:NVIDIA or something like that. So, I found that folder, and discovered that there were several files there from the different failed drivers I tried to install. I trashed them, and then changed the permissions of the folder from read only to read and write. Then, FINALLY, the new install worked! I know this was off-topic, but maybe someone else will run into this when searching. NVIDIA Driver Instal Fail
 

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