I am looking at purchasing a workstation from Dell and am a little confused by the graphic card options. They are mostly Quadros, which I have no experience with.

One grouping is a "Professional 2D" set of cards, like the Quadro NVS 420 or NVS 295. Some of the 3D choices are Quadro FX 3800 or 4800.

Can someone elaborate on the difference between a 2D and a 3D graphics card?

1 Answer 1


The Quadro line are the same chipset as similar GTS line cards (there is a table on wiki listing them all)

They are aimed at professional 2D use = optimized drivers for things like Cad and color profiles matched for certain photo packages. They also tend to come with multiple dual link adapters to drive very large monitors.

The 3D line is aimed at gamers, so better DirectX drivers - and cheaper price!

edit: another difference is length of support. In pro uses you need to be able to get the same hardware for a few years because thats what your app is tested on. In home machines new cards have a much shorter product life.

  • 1
    So 2D cards for photoshop/cad & 3D cards for Maya & 3DS max? And the 3d cards were definitely not cheaper
    – user1596
    Jul 8, 2010 at 16:55
  • 1
    Just to clarify, I'm not talking about Quadro vs. gaming cards, but Quadro vs. Quadro
    – user1596
    Jul 8, 2010 at 17:42
  • Didn't know there was a Quadro 2d and Quadro 3d? If they have OpenGL drivers they will do 3D. They might have few vertex shaders and more texture memory for 2D ? Jul 9, 2010 at 4:37
  • The 2D line (Quadro NVS) is aimed at multi-monitor solutions; the GPUs on these cards can only run Aero - that's it. The 3D line (Quadro) is aimed at CAD and this is where they share GPUs with gaming cards, except they allow the use of professional drivers and they may have much more memory for large scenes - eg Quadro 2000 = GeForce GTS 450. Dec 29, 2010 at 22:18

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .