Please forgive my ignorance of graphics cards but the card recommended by Autodesk for running Inventor is
"MS Direct3D 11 capable or higher; 512 MB or equivalent"
...and the quotes I got for computers list
2 GB NVIDIA Quadro K2000 (2DP and 1DVI-I) (2DP-DVI and 1DVI-VGA adapter) in the desktops
AMD FirePro M5100 w/2GB GDDR5 in the laptops
The provider "assures" me that these meet the spec but I just don't know. Can someone please shed some light and pull me out of the dark?
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Both are directX 11 and both are 2GB which is > 512mb
both "should" be just fine..
Either card will do just fine, but they're both really overkill in terms of price.
Get a mid-grade or high-end gaming card. It'll be a LOT cheaper than the Quadro or FirePro, and it will handle Inventor just as well.
nVidia gaming cards of the current numbering scheme tend to have 3-digit model numbers, with some letters afterwards. If you're looking at nVidia, look for a card with number XY0, where X is a number 6 or higher and Y is a number 5 or higher. (e.g., 650, 760, etc.)
ATI cards are named as Radeon HD with some numbers afterwards. Look for a card there with the number XYZ0, where X is a number that's 4 or higher, Y is a number 7 or higher, and Z is a number 5 or higher. (e.g., 4870, 6850, 7770, 7950, etc.)
I'm using almost 6-year-old Radeon HD 4870's in my workstation at home (current up to date CPU / RAM / SSD though) and they're keeping up just fine with Inventor 2014 and even most games that I feel like playing at 1080p.
I don't recommend the gaming cards, we went that way first and burned a few out, and the workstation cards hugely outperform them in CAD as far as I could tell. I've been really happy with the AMD Firepro V5900 (can be found for around $400). We've been running these for 2.5 years. I couldn't justify the extra dollars for the Quattro with the same specs for triple the price. Here's a great list of workstation cards and specs: http://www.techarp.com/showarticle.aspx?artno=95
Depends entirely on what you're doing with them.
Inventor uses Direct3D, not OpenGL. The gaming cards will give you better performance at a far lower price-point with Direct3D applicati.... If you're burning up a graphics card using Inventor, then you've got some sort of hardware issue other than simply having a gaming card.
Think about it: these things are made for nerds in their mom's basement to have marathon sessions pushing demanding games. Running Inventor for 8 or 10 hours at a time shouldn't push you very hard. I see core temperatures and fan speeds on my card go higher with even older games - Portal, Half Life 2, Empire: Total War, that sort of thing - than I do with Inventor.
The workstation cards are more designed for the visualation crowds, with extra features that enable them to do things like GPU rendering and real-time on screen work. In order to do that they include more robust cooling systems. That means they perform better when dumped into an ordinary box system. You dump a high-end gaming card into an off-the-shelf box you may very well have cooling problems, as they aren't designed for the air flow required. Gaming boxes have much better air flow and usually come with an extra fan or two which dramatically improve heat removal. Both of those are necessary for the high-end hardware.