Carrara doesn’t see a whole lot of benefit in great video cards though. My workstation uses a Fermi based (but not Quadro) vs my laptop’s GT260 stand-alone (not built into the MB) and the OpenGL performance is not that different. Of course other apps that you have may say something else, altogether, but that’s my biggest reason for not going for a high-end card when I built this workstation. It relies fully on its eight core processor for rendering - and the Fermi does a great (smooth and responsive) job in my working view.
I am still wondering if I would notice a change with a Quadro. And if that change would be significant enough to be worth the extra coin.
The change from dual core to eight core processors, on the other hand, was enormous! I got the lower end AMD FX 8 Zambezi, and at the same time DAZ_Spooky got the high end chip from the same line. I paired mine with a Military Spec Motherboard capable of using 32 GB RAM, and I began with 16GB High performance RAM with nice, aggressive heat sinks.
The plan is to continue working with this one and possibly upgrade the RAM to 32. Then in another year or so, build another, which will have the main responsibility of being a render node for this one. The dual core machine has become the browser for the internet and runs my Music Composing software. But this workstation weighed in at less than a grand, including the killer case with extra fans, Windows 7 and my Sony Movie HD Platinum suite. So I could build two more of these and still come in at less cost than the current Mac Pro server-class tower, but have a total of 24 core each running at over 3GHz!
My other thought was to build my next one with a much higher budget - and use that new one as my workstation and my current one would become the render node. In that plan, I would be building more for the future - in the hopes of gaining GPU assistance for rendering with Carrara - as a server-class tower with two of the server-class, eight core chips and plenty of RAM to feed them. My buddy Garstor built one of those. Again… for what I do, the cost-saving desktop solution I’ve built is beautifully powerful for my animations rendering. So the first plan is nice in that I would continue to achieve amazing bang for very few bucks. By the time I have three in total, I could just stop there - as that will really crank out my clips. As technology grows and I find myself wanting to build anew, these would still be invaluable for rendering.