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Questions About Graphics Memory

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Hello Everyone,

I am on a quest to get the most out of my HP xw4400 Workstation. Specs are;

Ram: 4.00 GB w/ 3gb switch (3.25 GB usable)

System: 32 bit Windows 7 Ultimate

Processor: Intel Core 2 CPU 6600 @ 2.40 GHz


Here's the focus Graphics...

NVIDIA Quadro FX 1500

Total available graphics memory 1663 MB

Dedicated graphics memory 256 MB

Dedicated system memory 0 MB

Shared system memory 1404 MB

Latest NVIDIA Drivers

Primary monitor resolution 1920x1200

Secondary monitor resolution 1280x1024

DirectX version: DirectX 11


I am running 3ds Max Design 2011 for production but want to install 2012 and have a few questions:

1. Will disconnecting the secondary monitor free up graphic resources?

2. Looking at the numbers above, do you thing allocating system memory for graphics will help without compromising resources available for 3ds max design to run?

3. When is it a good idea to dedicate system memory for graphics?


I know I need a 64 bit, quad core or better system to get optimal performance from 3ds max design, but my finances will not permit it at the moment. But, because I have 2 identical workstations, I render using distributed buckets or backburner, and get by OK.


For what it's worth, my PSU is only 460 Watts which concerns me with just buying a GTX card to plug in until I get a new system. Should this concern me?


Thanks in advance!

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Re-allocating memory from your system to your gfx card will not help, as your model is strictly dictated by how much your gfx card memory has( basically you must have enough on-board gfx card memory to load the entire model into the card to render it out on for gpu).


Disconnecting the second monitor will help, but just slightly. You should not be getting a huge performance hit from having dual monitors.


As for your PSU, yes I would not upgrade to a new card with that little of wattage, especially since all computer parts degrade over time from use.

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Thanks Chris for your explanation.

I kinda thought that I am dead in the water on the graphics end, but wanted to see if there might be something I had overlooked. By the way, I have a 500 watt PSU in the closet that I never used, but I did'nt think it would help much.

Any thoughts on a low cost alternative?

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How large are the models you are dealing with? Are you getting any kind of viewport lag with your current gfx card?


With that said, I would hesitate to do any type of upgrading to your current system. It is very outdated for the most part. I would try to have up and use Andrews list of possible builds for a go by.


I know this is probably not what you want to hear, but I think it would be a wiser investment for you to hold off on upgrading till you can afford a whole new system.

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The CPU is a quad, right? I see what Chris is saying, but it's possible to get a respectable upgrade going here pretty inexpensively. There are some power power video cards you can use - my recommendation would be a Radeon 6750 1GB for about $110. It's not as powerful as higher end stuff, but its power draw is one of the lowest available, it's got 4x the onboard memory of your Quadro and it's much faster. Then, memory - do you have a copy of 64-bit Windows available? If you do, install it and upgrade the memory to 8GB.

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My models range from 65mb to 220 mb and the lag is not too bad, but a bit sluggish. I would not spend more than $200 on a gfx card because I plan to buy a new system in about 6 months.


Thanks for responding. My CPU is dual core. I thought about the Radeon 6750, but will my 460 watt power supply handle it?

My system is 64-bit capable, but this is where things get vague to me. If I install Windows 7 64-bit will I be able to install more ram? Do I need to check to see if my MB can actually handle more? How does that work?

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The issue with a new graphics card will be if the PSU has a PCI-E 6 pin connector, which most graphics cards require. Beverly, check your PSU for one of these.

Also, Bev, adding the 64bit OS will make it capable for your computer to handle more ram, so the 64bit OS is a great investment.



That link is the specs of your machine. You can add (4) 2 gig sticks of ram for a total of 8gigs. It does say you need ECC ram but since you are running a core2 duo and not a Xeon, it really should not matter. You can buy cheaper unbuffered ram(non ecc).



Here are some sticks of ram. Notice this is a 4gig set so you would need to buy 2 sets. Team Elite makes some quality products so I would not be scared to purchase from them. IF you want to be a bit more comfortable, you may go with some Corsair sticks as well.

Edited by Slinger
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Thanks for taking a look for me, but my workstation is the HP xw4400 (RB299UT). It's actually a discontinued model, but it is 64 bit capable. I will do a little digging around to see what my options are.


I really appreciate your input as well as Andrew's because I was not sure it would matter if I upgraded to 64 bit. I have a 64 bit Windows 7 version CD from two years ago, but never used it. I built my own PC's 10 years ago, but as technology changed, I decided I wanted to support the local economy and focus my attention on civil design and Civil 3D training. So keeping up with hardware fell by the wayside.


I will get back to you on what I discover!

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Beverly, is the HP link not for the XW4400? When I click on it, it says it is.

As for the ram, it is a manufacturer of ram. You don't buy ram from HP. I mean you can, but it is just like any other ram. I just tried to pick the msot cost effective ram for you if you upgraded your OS .

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  • 3 weeks later...

OK Guys,

I'm ready to decide! I talked with HP and I can upgrade to Windows 64 bit and install up to GB of ram.

I really appreciate the feedback Chris & Andrew!

My dilemma is:

1. Should I upgrade Win 7 Ultimate 32 bit to Win 7 64 bit (I may not have) or Win XP 64 bit (I DO have)?

2. Should I go with GeForce GTX 560 (1024mb) $200 or GeForce GTX 460 (2048mb) $230?

Both cards will work with my 460 watt PSU.

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This is fairly new territory for me and 3ds Max Design has been an expensive hobby, that I did little with. I am a civil (site, roadway and infrastructure) designer and my primary software is Civil 3D but clients are starting to ask for 3d renderings of their sites for public hearings etc. They have gotten approval on the spot each time however I'm not good at it yet, but improving when compared to what I see here on cgarchitect.


So to answer you question, I will be incorporating the Civil View into my workflow along with Onyx Tree Storm and Archvision RCP for quick and dirty renderings. So I really don't know if I need memory over speed. Based on your experience what do you think?


My last project was the first time I had some serious memory issues. This may be a dumb question, but because my workstation is 4½ years old does it matter much if I use XP 64 bit over Win 7 64 bit?

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  • 1 month later...

Just wanted to let you guys know that purchased the GTX 460 w/ 2 gigs of memory and I am very pleased with it!


I also upgraded the CPU from Dual Core 2.4 GHz to a Dual Core 3.4 GHz (recommended by HP tech support) and was surprised because it actually slowed my system performance significantly! I freaked and called HP immediately and the bottom line was: "my MB was not actually designed to handle that processor, but one of the four MB's that shipped with the xw4400 workstations would support that CPU" but they could not tell me which one! The support guy told me their technical documents were "kind a" false advertising, because they were aware of the limitation, but only addressed it as the problem arose. So I removed the processor and returned it. BUT, I am pleased with the overall improvement of the graphics in civil 3d, 3ds max design and revit.


I have one follow up question: I removed the 3gb switch and windows 7 ultimate reports 3.50gb usable. When it was enabled 3.25gb was usable. How is that? Does windows 7 32-bit now actually use more that 2gb without the switch?

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Ummm, wow, HP tech support FTW. Okay, so 32-bit Windows memory handling is... stupid. It is able to contemplate a total of 4GB - this is whether you have 4GB in there or not. If you don't have 4GB, the map is still 4GB, and the extra can be made up by virtual memory (dumping memory to hard disk) if needed. Windows divides this this space between system and applications - the default is 2GB each. The /3GB switch changes it to 3GB apps, 1GB system. In recent years 1GB has often become too little for system, so the /USERVA switch came to be preferred - e.g., my last 32 bit office PC was set up with /USERVA=2700 to give 2.7GB to apps and 1.3GB to system.


The less than 4GB thing - the PC often has to take from the 4GB to allocate to video. I know, it should be separate, and it doesn't even correlate to the amount of video memory, but I did say 32-bit Windows memory handling is stupid. Everybody should upgrade to 64-bit.

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Thanks Andrew for the explanation. As soon as I think I understand and can see what is actually happening with my hardware, I get stumped... The memory thing has me scratching my head! My system performance has really improved!


I agree, and my next system will definitely be 64-bit. HP tech support suggested that I upgrade to XP 64-bit or Vista 64-bit (which is what they support for the xw4400 workstation), but I am going to wait and just buy or build a new workstation as soon as I have the money to do so!

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