Graphic Card Upgrade

Discussion in 'Hardware Components and Aftermarket Upgrades' started by fazal1988, Jul 25, 2015.

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  1. fazal1988

    fazal1988 Notebook Enthusiast

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    Hello guys,
    I've a Dell Precision M6800. I've been using it for 3D modeling and CAD stuffs with softwares such as AutoCAD, SketchUp, 3dsMax, Rhino, Maya and rendering on VRay and Lumion.
    The performance was pretty good on all the softwares except Lumion.
    I was thinking whether there is possiblility of upgrading my graphic processor.
    As of now the spec of my laptop is,
    Dell Precision M6800,
    17" wide
    i7 4800MQ, 2.7GHz
    16 GB RAM,
    1TB SSHD + 500GB SSHD
    Nvidia Quadro K4100M

    I was thinking whether i could upgrade it to K5100M. Coz, i had seen some K5100M's available on market. But don't know whether they would suit mine.
    Also i'm planning to upgrade my hard disk to SanDisk Extreme Pro 480GB SSD as the primary drive and move the 1TB SSHD to the secondary.

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. TANWare

    TANWare Just This Side of Senile, I think. Super Moderator

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    TBH, the system on the passmark requirements seems like a good balance. Your upgrade would bring you from passmark 2789 to 3274. This does not seem overall like it would be that beneficial for the money you would spend, that is unless the card is real cheap.
     
  3. tilleroftheearth

    tilleroftheearth Wisdom listens quietly...

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    Your current graphics card is less than half as capable as the recommended one by Lumion. They recommend a K5200 or higher with 4GB or more RAM.

    Seems like that K5200 or better yet, a K6000 is as much as your system though... and most likely would not work as a simple plug and play upgrade (hopefully I'm wrong about both price and ease of upgrades here though...).

    What I would suggest is that if you really need to use Lumion software (sub par, in my opinion - if the limitations are program inherent ('requires' internet connection????!!!!) and not O/S and/or GPU driver inherent... see the following) you should be running Windows 7 x64 Pro. With that done, I would then recommend you max out the RAM of your system (buy the best performing and highest capacity SoDimms you can afford 4x 8GB modules).

    See:
    http://forum.lumion3d.com/f-a-q/lumion-5-how-to-reduce-render-times/

    The above link should also be used to optimize your setup as much as possible.

    When performance is paramount first maximize the O/S and CPU+RAM combination for the workload desired... then further tweak it by adding an SSD with a clean install of your O/S and programs (along with 30% OP'ing).

    Expecting to run pro level programs with 16GB RAM concurrently is not realistic. Start your upgrades there and then see what other options you have.

    Looking at the Dell website, the K5100 is the highest performing option and simply not worth upgrading to over your existing gpu for an indicated $2K+ over the AMD M6100 FirePro base card. This will give you ~17% more performance over your K4100. If you're being paid for this work - it may be worth it to upgrade.

    But my opinion? This is not a few hundred dollars we're talking about here and while 17% is nothing to sneeze at, it might not translate into the same percentage increase in real world productivity. I'd rather spend more money on a system that was better able to handle the workload you require (again; if this is how you make your money).

    Cross your fingers and max out the RAM and even upgrade your SSD (OP'ing and a clean install). Assuming you are already running Windows 7 x64 Pro (to ensure maximum performance/compatibility for the Lumion software) there would be nothing else I would spend or do on this system to try to increase it's performance when bang for the buck is considered.

    If/when Dell offers a K5200 or higher NVidia gpu for your system as a drop in replacement (which should theoretically double your performance), then it is worth revisiting this question. But at that time, a new platform will already offer more than anything you can upgrade your current system to.

    Good luck.
     
  4. fazal1988

    fazal1988 Notebook Enthusiast

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    Hi tilleroftheearth thanks for your elaborated reply
    I was thinking the same that I could upgrade to SSD and see the performance and then decide on upgrading the graphics. Now that you gave an idea on upgrading the RAM, will do that too.
    On the graphics, the maximum that you get for mobile workstations is the Quadro K5100M. K5200 and K6000s are for desktop graphics. BTW is it even possible to upgrade graphics on the laptops?

    Thanks
     
  5. tilleroftheearth

    tilleroftheearth Wisdom listens quietly...

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    I would do the RAM upgrade first.
    • Remove battery, unplug AC cord from system.
    • Remove original RAM and note order they were installed (always a good tip when disassembling...).
    • Replace with new SoDimms - leave covers off if you can without shorting/bending components to test the system boots with the new RAM. I would also test a few reboots too.
    • At this point (after a reboot) - lets see about any performance increases for your workflows - run your test and compare to an already run test with the old RAM installed. If the performance increased substantially enough for you, do the following:
      • After a successful boot, replace covers if you haven't already and run MEMTEST for an extended period (I usually test a new set of modules for 24-48 hours or more).
    • At this point - you can start to trust the new modules (I'd still be wary of them for a few weeks...) and can consider selling the old RAM to partly finance the new SoDimms.

    Then I would consider the SSD (if I'm not mistaken, the SSD should not affect your workflow appreciably during the rendering stage - but it will give you a boost if you're multitasking during it though, especially with the maxed out RAM

    K5100M is the max? I would not upgrade to that myself then (I'd wait for a platform that supports a card with equal or higher performance first). The upgrades should be possible depending on the system and if the manufacturer of the platform directly supports the higher end cards.

    My suggestions here are still missing (input from) the O/S you're currently running and if this system is used for your main line of work (or for a large % of your monthly income).

    But assuming this is not for work and you are running Win7x64Pro (as suggested by Lumion), the above approach is what is in your best interests.

    If this is for paid work... the question you should ask yourself is if a 17% increase in GPU prowess (translated to less than half, most likely in actual productivity...) would be worth the $2K+ price tag for you? If these numbers were what I faced in my workloads - I would need to recover that $2K+ cost in less than 3 months to make it worthwhile.

    Even at 10% greater productivity - I cannot guarantee that it would be the better path vs. getting another system in that same 3 month period with a new gen (Skylake) platform - even if the same GPU was used in the new system as you have now.

    Yes; more money for a new system (but still partly financed by selling off the old one...), but the possibility for higher overall performance (not just in the gpu dept.) greatly outweighs the real world productivity gained over the long term ownership of a new system vs. your current system with a GPU upgrade.

    Again; I know I am making assumptions on your workflow and program of choice - but don't take the last few paragraphs above as gospel - I am merely trying to show you how to think about such decisions (especially with a new platform right around the corner).

    Good luck.
     
  6. Mr.Koala

    Mr.Koala Notebook Virtuoso

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    2K$+? K5100M is ~750$.
     
  7. tilleroftheearth

    tilleroftheearth Wisdom listens quietly...

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    Hmmm... I might have been looking at local prices. In US dollars it still seems that the Dell K5100 is worth $1.2K more than an AMD FirePro M6100 though. But I don't know what it is worth on it's own.

    Either way ~$1.5K or more (installation, downtime to upgrade - especially if sent out, etc.) is nothing to sneeze at. Especially if this is closer to the hobby end of the spectrum (with paid work being the other). At least not for me today and for mere single digit possible productivity increases.
     
  8. fazal1988

    fazal1988 Notebook Enthusiast

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    I just read about the Skylake platform. Insane! Will upgrade the RAM as you said. I'm running Win 8.1Pro in this laptop and i'm using it for personal works not for office purpose. On the graphics, I was thinking whether i could go for external GPU if needed instead upgrading to K5100M. But i wont be upgrading the graphics now. That would be the last option and some months later.
    And this was the product that i found that could suit. Alienware has similar kind but i guess it won't be compatible with Quadro cards.
    http://www.netstor.com.tw/_03/03_02.php?OTc=
    http://www.netstor.com.tw/_03/03_02.php?ODQ#
    are there anything similar to this?
    About your advice on the skylake, are you saying that we can upgrade the CPU?
    I thought we can never upgrade CPU and GPU on laptops.
    But only after doing some google i came to know that Dell Precisions come with MXM cards, which can be upgraded.
     
  9. tilleroftheearth

    tilleroftheearth Wisdom listens quietly...

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    Afaik, Skylake will require a new chipset on the M/B so no upgrade may be possible. Even if it was, I would not recommend it; the complete platform is what would make it a worthwhile upgrade (not the same as just a part/frankenbuild upgrade).

    In the same vein, I would not bother with the external gpu 'solutions' either. They all have tradeoffs (including high costs) and I don't believe they compete with the convenience (of course) and performance of equivalent built-in solutions. They are great for external GPU manufacturers though... :)

    As for the O/S you're running - that is what I would recommend by default too. However, the Lumion software you have is limited to using just the GPU's vram and totally ignore any system RAM with Win8.1Pro. I am not sure if this is a limitation of the O/S (I'd find this hard to believe) or the Lumion software (more likely?).

    Either way, if you could test (use a different HDD or SSD to test with!!!) with Win7x64Pro (and with both your 16GB RAM setup you have now and the maxed out (32GB?) version you plan on buying), then you will know for sure if the extra RAM and the O/S along with your specific use of the software gives you any benefits. The link I provided in post#3 seems to indicate Win7x64Pro is preferred - but if this is a software limitation (rather than an O/S limitation) I would be inclined to be looking for a different program to use instead.

    With this being confirmed as personal use though - maxing out the RAM and a decent SSD (clean install on a ~500GB or larger drive and OP'd by ~30% or more) is all I would be doing to this system. And again; only if it made your workflows significantly more productive and you plan to keep the system at least another 18 months or more.
     
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