The debate regarding the difference between workstation graphics cards Vs gaming graphics cards has been on going for some time and in all seriousness the consequences of running CAD software on a gaming card can be costly. So in reality this question should never really be up for debate, but unfortunately it crops up time and time again.
This is primarily due to a misunderstanding of how the two pieces of hardware work and also a scapegoat to save a quick buck or two when equipping your design office, given the steep price difference between the two cards.
Workstation Graphics Cards Vs Gaming Graphics Cards
The first real difference between a workstation graphics card and a gaming graphics card is the software applications they have been configured or designed to run. They are in fact aimed at two totally different markets with entirely different needs.
In the first instance you have games. Gaming technology has come a long way in recent years and some games have been developed to take greater advantage of graphics technology, but in principle the cards and software drivers are tweaked to deliver maximum performance for GAMES.
Games tend to consist of low polygon count geometry and in many cases pre defined textures and bitmaps. On screen effects can be tweaked in options but are dependent of the power of the graphics card (the better the card the better the graphics). High on the list of priorities for a good gaming graphics card are good quality visuals, fast loading (hence the low polygon count) and a fast smooth frame rate.
CAD Software Graphics Requirements
CAD applications typically a lot per license. CAD applications need workstation graphics cards that can manipulate complex geometry that could be in excess of a billion triangles. They need to be able to deal with real world real size geometry that could include bridges, skyscrapers or a jumbo jet for example.
They need to be able to produce geometry that can be measured to many decimal places in anything from microns to miles. Getting it wrong could result in product recalls or even failure for example. At a higher level some CAD applications require workstation graphics cards where the graphics card utilize GPU computing. That is when the workstation graphics card actually performs more calculations than the workstations actual processor(s) themselves.
Workstation Graphics Cards Performance
CAD graphics cards can seem to be expensive but in the main most workstations and application would only require one in the lower quartile of the potential price spread. But that said, hopefully you can now understand that the question of workstation graphics cards Vs gaming graphics cards for your CAD workstation should never be asked. If you have spent thousands on CAD software for your business, it makes business sense to ensure it runs on a decent cad workstation with a recommended workstation graphics card.