I've been doing more and more CAD works since a few month and I've recently upgraded my rig with a second gaming card, thinking that CrossFire would be able to perform better with solidworks, but NOT AT ALL.
Solidworks can't handle gaming card in crossfire, I'm getting a lot of graphics bugs:
-Zooming is not refreshing until I rotate or pan
-Edges are highlighted 1 edge too late (if your mouse come one one edge, it won't highlight, then if it comes to an other one, the first one will highlight...)
-Performance is not really better than with one card
-Edges keep being highlighted
-And even more...
I've contacted ATI and they strongly suggested to get a professional card.
The problem is that I still want to play games, and I don't want to have two different rigs.
While searching. I've read that Windows 7 could handle two different drivers (ATI Catalyst Gaming and Professional) and switch from one to the other, but I've never seen anyone doing this. Can any one confirm this? It would be great not to have two different version of windows installed.
The option suggested by ATI was to get a dualboot system, one for gaming and one for CAD.
Since the ONLY difference from one windows installation to the other will be the graphic driver, is there a way to configure windows to start with one driver(gaming) or the other(Professionnal), instead of re installing the whole thing with all programs and other stuff?
This would be great because one computer could be effective with both gaming and CAD and would be reasonable in cost.
I'll search more concerning «forced drivers startup» and keep you informed, this could be useful to anyone!
Don't bother with exotic solutions. I'm about to purchase (long awaited) Diablo3 and probably will have to buy a gaming GPU and the plan was to sort that via dual-boot. As I'm already doing dual-boot (Linux for everything else but SWX) how complicated can it be to dedicate a few minutes (if that much at all) to go into BIOS and change the preferential GPU. As I'm either spending a lot of hours doing CAD, and nothing else at the same time, I'm also doing a lot of other things not needing CAD applications at all at the same time, so, I figure, if I sacrifice an extra minute to do the dual-boot thing, it's nothing compared to the time I'm spending doing something I need or want to... I would definitely not force Windows to go with only drivers choice, that can, and most likely will cause problems, if not immediately, then, in the very near future. Once you get your Win installation screwed up, you're on your own... The best option would be to have the second (gaming) Windows installation on a completely separate HDD. I'm working with Windows since 3.11 when it was just a program running on DOS, and I saw almost everything. Nothing can surprise me.
I actually have a Geforce GTX560 and a Quadro 600 installed in my Windows 7 machine. It works great! (last weekend the geforce unfortunately died on me, not because of this setup but because the latest geforces are not that good). Mind you, I also use two monitors!
I used Solidworks on the screen connected to the Quadro and played games on the screen connected to the Geforce. Actually I could use SW also on the Geforce screen, I think because there is a Quadro present in the system. If I played a game on the Quadro however, the graphics suffered significantly.
The Nvidia Quadro 600 is not that expensive and delivers good enough performance. ATI offers the pretty similar Firepro V4900.
The following idea I cannot confirm by a test because my Geforce has died. As soon as I have a replacement, could take another two/three weeks, I will test it if you like. I am curious myself too to find out if it works... :)
If you want only 1 monitor on your desk, you could try to connect both cards to it and switch channels as you please. Most monitors nowadays have multiple connectors, so it shouldn't be a problem. The lazy way is to duplicate your desktop, the slightly less lazy way is to move your desktop back and forth to the other screen(adapter) to keep performance of your cpu optimized, although I don't think it will suffer much. You will probably have to switch channels the first time to let Windows recognize the screen on both adapters...
(as I said, i have to confirm this by testing it first)
Last thing I want to say. To use SW on a geforce or radeon is most often a gamble with bad odds. Some people have no trouble at all (except for realview), most others have problems like you described. Gaming on a (expensive) Quadro or Firepro will not give you good results. For example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Na4M-zfGr08
Good luck on your quest
Funny you should ask that, I was wondering the same thing and have posted in several forums the last two days asking about this.
Dual-Boot sounds very reasonable as the last resort, though I recommend putting it on the same drive, different partition. And I suggest you mirror your boot partition instead of reinstalling everything, though I'm not sure about the details.
I'll continue searching regarding this topic though there isn't much information about it.