When working in an application like 3ds Max, the ability to smoothly navigate a scene is critical for the creative process. Smaller scenes tend to not be a problem for even basic video cards, but as the complexity of the scene increases so too does the demand on the video card. The difficult part is to determine what video you need to use in order to achieve a smooth framerate without spending your budget on a card that is significantly more powerful than you need.
When it comes to what video card to pick, most 3ds Max users will find themselves choosing between a professional-grade Quadro card or a consumer-grade GeForce card from NVIDIA. Autodesk has historically made their stance clear that they only fully recommend and support professional cards, so in this article we will be focusing solely on the Quadro cards. If you are interested in the performance of GeForce cards, we recommended checking out our AutoDesk 3ds Max 2017 GeForce GPU Performance article.
For our testing, we are going to use two different system configurations with the following hardware:
|Motherboard:||Asus Z170-A||Asus X99 Deluxe II/U3.1|
|CPU:||Intel Core i7 6700K 4.0GHz
(4.0-4.2GHz Turbo) Quad Core
|Intel Core i7 6950X 3.0GHz
(3.4-4.0GHz Turbo) Ten Core
|RAM:||4x Crucial DDR4-2133 16GB
|8x Crucial DDR4-2133 8GG ECC Reg
|Hard Drive:||Samsung 850 Pro 512GB SATA 6Gb/s SSD|
|OS:||Windows 10 Pro 64-bit|
|PSU:||EVGA SuperNOVA 1200W P2|
|Software:||3ds Max 2017|
Since the CPU and overall platform can make a difference in viewport performance, we used two different systems to compare the performance of the different Quadro video cards. The first is a Z170 system using a Core i7 6700K which is typically what we would recommend for a general 3ds Max workstation. The second system uses a Core i7 6950X which has a higher number of CPU cores, making it better when rendering although it will be a bit slower for general design and animation due to it's lower operating frequency.
The different video cards we will be testing are:
|Test Video Cards|
|NVIDIA Quadro M6000 24GB||NVIDIA Quadro M2000 4GB|
|NVIDIA Quadro M4000 8GB||NVIDIA Quadro K620 2GB|
To help with consistency - and since the benchmarks we performed ran for several days - we programmed a custom script using AutoIt to start 3ds Max, load the relevant project, change the view mode (Wireframe, Shaded, Shaded w/ Edged Faces), then run a MAXScript to rotate the view while recording the FPS (frames per second) of the viewport. We will be testing with three different models that should give us a range of different poly and vert counts, along with features such as high resolution textures:
Results - Woman 003
For our first test, we are using the Woman 003 model from the "aXYZ HighRes Characters" folder in the 3ds Max 2017 sample files. This model uses high resolution textures and has a relatively low poly and vert count (only 172k and 90k respectively).
This is a fairly intense scene, as evidenced by the fact that we only saw about 30-35 FPS across the various video cards we tested. Interestingly, the video card didn't seem to make a very large difference. On both of our test systems, the difference between the fastest and slowest card was only about 5%. However, there was no consistency to the results (for example, the K620 was faster than the M6000 on the Core i7 6700K system) which leads us to believe that this scene is actually limited by the CPU, RAM, or something else within the system rather than the video card.
Results - P47 (252 Copies)
This model is only using standard shaders, and possibly due to this we are seeing some nice variety in performance. While the K620 was slower than the other cards when viewing the model in Wireframe mode, all of the cards provided a much higher framerate than you can actually see. However, both Shaded and especially Shaded with Edged Faces showed differences that you should actually be able to visibly notice.
For Shaded and Shaded w/ Edged Faces, we saw a huge jump in performance - more than double - going from the K620 to the M2000. We saw a further 30-40% increase in performance going up the the Quadro M4000, although there was almost no difference between the M4000 and the highest-end Quadro M6000.
Results - P47 (504 Copies)
Doubling the number of copies of the P47 model is a quick and easy way for us to test a large number of polys and verts. Interestingly, while the raw results are lower than the previous test, the relative performance between each card is actually very similar. Once again, the K620 is the lowest performing by a large margin with the M2000 being more than twice as fast. In addition, we again saw very little difference in performance between the Quadro M4000 and the Quadro M6000.
Results - Benchmark Graphics
Our final test is one we wanted to include it because it was the one of the few scenes we found on the web that was created specifically for people to test their framerate in 3ds Max.
Unlike the results from our GeForce Performance article, the results from the Quadro cards is pretty much exactly what you would expect. Each time you go up the stack, there is a nice bump in performance. It definitely isn't as pronounced on the higher end cards, but going from a K620 to a M2000 more than doubles performance, going from a M2000 to a M4000 results in a ~35% increase in performance, while going from a M4000 to a M6000 results in a ~25-30% increase in performance.
Summarizing all our results, we saw the following performance gains over the Quadro K620 (which was consistently the slowest card) on the two systems we tested with:
|Average % faster than
|Quadro M2000 4GB||Quadro M4000 8GB||Quadro M6000 24GB|
|Shaded w/ Edged Faces||96%||172%||211%|
Averaging results to this level definitely loses out on some of the fine nuances, but it is a great way to see at a glance what kind of performance you can expect from the different cards.
Overall, if you are trying to decide what Quadro card to use with 3ds Max (and we do recommend using a Quadro card instead of GeForce if possible), we would recommend starting with at least a Quadro M2000. The performance gain of that card over a Quadro K620 is simply so large that it is well worth the extra money. If you work with larger scenes (somewhere around 6 million polys), however, we highly recommend upgrading to at least a Quadro M4000. For even larger scenes (greater than 15 million polys), you may need to consider a Quadro M5000 or even a Quadro M6000 in order to achieve an acceptable framerate.
Recommended Systems for 3ds Max
Design & Animation
Utilizing a high frequency Intel Core i7 CPU, this compact workstation is able to provide the best possible performance when creating 3D models with complex animations.
For increased rendering performance, this system is configurable with up to 10 CPU cores and/or dual video cards to give you faster rendering times whether you are using a CPU or GPU-based rendering engine.
If you are configuring a system for 3ds Max, we have a number of other articles regarding the hardware requirements for 3ds Max that you may be interested in:
Recommended Hardware for 3ds Max
Summary of what you need to know when choosing hardware for a 3ds Max workstation.
Autodesk 3ds Max 2017 CPU Performance
How fast are some of the more common CPU options for 3ds Max?
Autodesk 3ds Max 2017 Quadro GPU Performance
What Quadro video card should you use?
Autodesk 3ds Max 2017 GeForce GPU performance
If you need to use a GeForce card, what performance will different cards give you?