Best graphics card for Inventor/AutoCAD?

Has anyone around here spec’d out a graphics card lately? I’m looking for something to run Inventor and AutoCAD on. I’m not doing anything much more intensive than what would be required for FIRST, so I don’t think I need workstation-caliber card. I also know that Autodesk makes use of a graphics card a bit differently than gaming does, so a high-end gaming card isn’t necessarily the answer.

Requirements from Autodesk:
DirectX 10 or 11 (legacy support for OpenGL)

They don’t say much about memory requirements on the graphics card.

I’m hoping someone who uses this in industry can point me in the right direction. I’ve already read this thread, but didn’t see the answer to my question.

Hope that helps, what is your price range?


Shamelessly stolen link from Tyler (FRC2753)

Nowadays you’ll want 512mb of GDDR2 or GDDR3. (Or at least 256mb like I’m running in one of my systems)

But yup, a price range would help out.


Certified hardware list for Autodesk AutoCAD (with FAQ)
Certified hardware list for Autodesk Inventor
Certified hardware list for PTC Pro/ENGINEER (applies to Wildfire 4.0; for others, see here)

The real story is the drivers—the hardware on most CAD-certified cards is very similar to the hardware on a consumer-grade card. Just about any mid-to-high-end consumer-grade graphics card will work for the average FIRST team’s CAD work.

Even among consumer-grade drivers, you may have to try a couple different revisions to find one that co-operates with your chosen CAD program. If you’re experiencing graphics slowness, or visual problems, try another driver version (newer or older).

Here’s something else to consider, if you’re interested in anecdotes, and not tied to a particular CAD package—I’ve found (several revisions of) Pro/ENGINEER quite usable on systems with extremely modest capabilities, but have had much less success running Inventor (or even recent versions of AutoCAD) on similarly-equipped machines.

Thanks all for the help so far. A few of you asked about my budget. I would say I want to spend no more than $200, with $175 probably being my preferred max if it all possible. A few other potentially helpful details: I’m also pairing this with 4Gb of DDR3 1600, a 3.0GHz Athlon II X2, and the motherboard has both PCIe x1 and PCIe 2.0 x16 slots.

To make sure I’m understanding everything correctly:
-a mid-grade to high-end desktop card should be sufficient
-256-512Mb of GDDR2 or GDDR3 is a decent memory setup
-using the Autodesk approved (not necessarily the most recent) drivers goes a long way.

As far as the Autodesk certified graphics cards and drivers, does the certification mean that they are ideal for use with Inventor, or just that they are guaranteed to work with Inventor?

Neither. They have been tested and found to work with Inventor. No Guarantees. “Ideal” is in the eyes of the beholder.

Also check comparative shopping sites like Tom’s Hardware Guide to see if one has faster graphics rendering in CAD-like programs than another. Cost does not always equal quality or performance. For example, there are <$100 cards that are faster in rendering than >$200 cards.

With Autocad, the majority of number crunching is done in system memory but the display crunching is done on the display card. Weak video cards show up as slow zooms, stuttering video when moving, slow regens, inaccurate placement of objects (when not using object snap), odd looking curves and circles, incomplete fonts and other display related anomalies. None of these things will affect the printed output except the object placement. These are the kinds of things that are annoying to power users but can be acceptable to someone who is using the software infrequently or in a non-production environment. If you follow the Autocad guides to hardware/drivers linked above, you should have no problems.


I have used a number of systems over the last couple of years and the newer systems really do not need an expensive card as the previous post notes. I just built a new windows 7 system for Inventor 2010 and of all of my cost, the video card was the least expensive and works great! I run assemblies under 200 pieces and I really do not get may delays. Asus 512 MB 4670 for under $50. My whole system is under $700 with 22" monitor, windows 7, 4GB ram, E8400 and runs WO issue. You should be fine with whatever you buy. consider a 4850 if you can find one or the next gen up if you want something more.