I’ve been using a Nvidia GTX 285 2GB card for rendering since CS5, but it’s always interesting to see what newer, more powerful cards can do. For larger projects it can sometimes take the GTX 285 over an hour to render a complex timeline, but how much would it be worth to have that same timeline rendered in 15 min?

This chart represents several hundred user submitted test results from commonly supported and hacked graphics cards (see the full set of test results here). As you can see from the rendering speed chart, my GTX 285 is about 4 times slower then the top rated GTX 680. The surprising part of the chart is how low on the list the Quadro 4000 falls.  It seems like a $650 graphics card like to Quadro should out perform the $450 GTX 680, even the GTX 580 which runs around $270 seems to provide better overall performance.

Gains in playback performance are a little less clear. It seems as though the GTX 570 gives the best results here, probably due to the 320-bit memory bus v.s. the 256-bit bus used on the GTX 680. I would guess the number of cores has the strongest effect on rendering time, and the memory bus has the strongest effect on playback, but I’d be interested to know if there are other reasons.  No matter what card you choose, it appears all of them will help make timeline playback better.

Just searching ebay, it seems as though the GTX 570 would be the best bang for your buck. With used prices well under $200 it has a rendering speed that’s twice as fast as my GTX 285 and the boost in playback performance would probably be more noticeable when editing. But if the most important item on your list is rendering speeds the GTX 680 looks like the clear winner.

If you’d like to see how well your current graphics card performs, check out the Benchmark instructions for the files and timelines used for the test. I’ll have to wait and see how well my GTX 285 handles the Catleap IPS Display if it chocks I might be in the market for a used GTX 570 2.5GB GPU in the near future.


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