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AutoDesk Maya 2013 GPU Acceleration

Written on October 18, 2012 by Matt Bach


Edit 10/15/2013: Interested in how workstation cards perform in Maya 2014? Check out our follow-up article: AutoDesk Maya 2014 Professional GPU Acceleration

Maya 2013

Just like AutoCAD 2013, Maya 2013 does not have any specific features or effects that are GPU accelerated. Instead, almost everything that looks 3D uses the GPU in some manner. You still need to balance a powerful video card with a good CPU and RAM combination, but the video card you use for Maya is an extremely important part of the performance equation.

Using the AutoDesk Certified Hardware webpage, we found that almost every current NVIDIA Quadro and AMD FirePro cards are listed as certified. And just like AutoCAD, no desktop-class video cards (such as the AMD Radeon HD and NVIDIA Geforce) are certified.

In this article, we want to explore the performance differences between a wide range of different video cards, including the current generation AMD FirePro, AMD Radeon and NVIDIA GeForce cards that are not on the certified list. In order to do so, we will be using the SPECapc benchmark for Maya 2012 on Maya 2013. This benchmark is a full system benchmark that tests 3D and 2D graphic performance in addition to CPU performance. This benchmark runs through multiple scenes testing several model types including shaded, textured, and wireframe models.

Since visual aids are a great way to get a feel for a benchmark, we also recorded a single benchmark run using FRAPS to help you get an idea of exactly what is tested by this benchmark:

Test Setup

To make sure that the chipset and CPU did not affect our results, we used two separate testing platforms consisting of the following hardware:

To test a wide spectrum of GPUs, we tested the following cards (video driver version listed in parentheses). At the moment, neither AMD nor NVIDIA has a specific driver or plugins available for Maya 2013 so just the base driver was used.

NVIDIA GeForce (306.23) NVIDIA Quadro
AMD Radeon
AMD FirePro (8.982.8.1)
GTX 580 1.5GB Quadro 4000 2GB HD 7970 3GB W9000 6GB
GTX 680 2GB Quadro 2000 1GB HD 7870 2GB W8000 4GB
GTX 670 2GB NVS 450 512MB HD 7750 1GB W7000 4GB
GTX 660 Ti 2GB     W5000 2GB
GTX 660 2GB      
GTX 650 1GB      
GT 610      

We were originally going to test using the Intel HD 4000 graphics that is integrated on the Intel Core i7 3770K, but it caused Maya to freeze on the insect.ma portion of the benchmark. Due to this, we did not include the Intel HD 4000 in our results.

Maya was configured according to the SPECapc readme.txt with two minor changes in order to allow the benchmark to run on Maya 2013. These changes were a simple edit to the bat file (correcting the directory change to reflect the proper location) and manually copying the benchmark script to the Maya2013\scripts\others folder. Other than those two minor changes, nothing was needed to allow the SPECapc Maya 2012 benchmark to run on Maya 2013.


Maya 2013 graphics benchmark score

Individual test results

After our AutoDesk AutoCAD 2013 and Adobe Photoshop CS6 articles, our results for Maya 2013 surprise us a bit. Until now, we've seen the NVIDIA Geforce cards dominating our benchmarks, but this time the AMD FirePro cards were the clear winner. Also contrary to our other application benchmarks, both the AMD and NVIDIA workstation series beat their desktop equivalents.

While this article is all about GPU acceleration, we also found some very interesting results in the CPU portion of the benchmark that we feel deserves to be mentioned:

The interesting point here is that almost all of the NVIDIA cards received higher CPU scores than the AMD cards. Even more interesting is that this deviation occurred in the physics portion of the benchmark. NVIDIA has a proprietary physics engine called PhysX that is primarily used for gaming, and it appears that Maya 2013 is able to utilize it to a limited extent. If it was able to fully utilize it, we would expect the scored to be many times higher than they are, so this does not appear to be something AutoDesk intentionally coded into Maya.

Desktop vs. Workstation Graphics

Unlike the AutoCAD 2013 benchmarks we recently ran, for Maya 2013 you do not have to choose between speed (with desktop cards) or precision (with workstation cards). Usually, desktop cards have a speed advantage over workstation cards since cards like the FirePro and Quadro series are not primarily about speed. The main advantage of workstation cards is their double precision preformance which allows the card to be many times more precise. As a roughly comparison, consider the difference you would get if you were to compute the area of a circle with pi being just 3.14 versus 3.14159. The difference is small, but it can easily compound over time. In addition, some of the higher end worstation cards use ECC memory for their video RAM which greatly increases reliability.

The difference with Maya 2013 is that the drivers have been very carefully tuned to get the best possible performance for exactly the type of things that are being done in Maya 2013. 

So, for Maya 2013, the question of whether desktop or workstation cards are better is much simpler than it is for AutoCAD. Simply put, if you want the best performance and reliability in Maya, workstation cards are simply better in both respects than desktop cards.


Our benchmarks clearly show that the AMD FirePro cards are the top performers in Maya 2013, and the recent official certification by AutoDesk makes these cards an excellent choice for anyone using Maya 2013. It's rare to see this large of a performance gap between difference series of cards, but our benchmarks clearly show that the AMD FirePro cards completely trounce all of the competition.

Unlike other software like AutoCad or Premiere, you will be giving up a lot of performance if you decide to go with a desktop card from the NVIDIA Geforce or AMD Radeon series. Of course, it you are primarily using software that does better with those cards and are only lightly using Maya 2013, those cards may still be the better choice. But if you are only concerned about Maya 2013 performance, you simply can't beat the performance of the AMD FirePro W-series cards.

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Tags: Maya

thanks pls add 2012 maya detail & how to renders in graphic card geforce 520 1gb

Posted on 2012-11-17 05:19:28

i have
 dual core 3 ghz
 4gb ddr3 ram
 geforce 520 1gb
 Dg41WV motherboard
 windows7 64bit
maya 2012 mentel ray or vray etc render only use cpu how to render in my geforce 520 card pls help am middle class students am cannot buy high range system 

Posted on 2012-11-17 05:27:59


Hmmm, i just dont like this test program. A test program for the GPU should only focus on what the graphic Card accelerats! And when its test the CPU, then only what the CPU accelerats! I see many funktion in the GPU test thats better acceleratet on CPU so we will not really see a differens between the graphiccards. The reason why we see a difference between AMD and Nvidia in this test are becourse of the graphic drivers....AMD have for now a better graphic driver than Nvidia..that can change NeXT month!? Maya support some Physx function....it can make a tree and make the leaves blow in the air, but i dont see any test like that. So when Physx are not really testet in the test program, i would recommend that Physx are turnd of in the Nvidia control panel....so the GPU use all its power on non Physx acceleration.

The bottom line here:

The bigger cpu, the better perfomance!
The bigger GPU, the better performance!

If you are a privat person who like to Work with 3D. The CPU are more importen than the GPU, but the GPU may not be too small or else it will slow down the working feeling. 

if you dont have any Money. Get a cheap multicore CPU that you easy can overclock! Get the graphicscard you can afford. A Nvidia 670 or 680 are fine if you are an happy amateur :-) Remember to set up the Nvidia control panel for the Autodesk program....especially when its not an Professional graphiccard!

Hope you all can relate to my comments....

Best Regards

Peter, an 3D operator on Autodesk programs

Posted on 2012-11-18 12:41:18

And what about the Quadro K5000. Need a comparision with that card.

Posted on 2012-11-21 13:18:41

We are planning another round of testing with that card (as well as Tesla and SLI/Crossfire) but that likely won't happen until after the holidays.

Posted on 2012-11-21 19:28:16

Hi Matt, I was just curious did you feel a noticeable difference when moving in the viewport of Maya with the Firepro vs the Quadro series cards? I currently have a Quadro K2000 and it works good but also use another 3D engine that usually get's really bad performance with AMD cards. So I went with Nvidia, but I'm curious how much of an improvement you would think the firepro is over the Quadro. If it's mainly a benchmark that shows improvement it wouldn't interest me. But if it's something you can actually feel when working to keep the scene nice and smooth I'd consider going for the Firepro and hoping the drivers work better for other programs I use.

Posted on 2014-05-16 16:37:31
3D Lover

Thank you so much! I cannot tell you how long and hard I have been searching out benchmark scores for Geforce and Radeon cards and your article is just perfect! Keep up the great work.

Posted on 2012-12-28 18:34:17

Thank you very much!

And could you please do a test for 3ds max 2013? I am an architecture student who usually using 3ds max for my project. Since 3ds max is quite different from Maya (which is designed for more flexibility) and I heard that autodesk has improved the support for nvidia gaming card on 3ds max 2013. Especially the iray render in 3ds max is highly depending on the number of CUDA cores, Through the GPU acceleration for iray is not supported by Kepler card at the present, it can still influence the view port performance. I am wondering is there a way to allow iray GPU acceleration on nvidia Kepler gaming card, and which card is better for the view port performance. Thank you!

Posted on 2013-02-03 03:51:09

3ds Max is on our list of software we would like to benchmark, but at the moment there are a few things holding us back. The biggest being that there is no free standardized benchmark for us to base our testing off of. Without such a benchmark available, we would need to dedicate quite a lot of time to thoroughly understanding 3ds Max and how it works so that we could develop our own benchmarking process. None of us at Puget use 3ds Max at any sort of professional level, and you really need that type of in-depth knowledge to ensure that a benchmark is accurate. At the moment, we are simply too busy with other jobs to be able to dedicate that time.

It's certainly on out to-do list, but unfortunately I do not think it is something we will be able to do in the near future.

Posted on 2013-02-04 20:33:45

K5000 and quadro 6000?

Posted on 2013-02-14 20:45:01

The K5000 was not widely available yet when we did this round of testing. I believe we plan to revisit this issue - GPU acceleration in several programs, actually - once the rest of the Quadro K-series is out. As for the Quadro 6000... well, I don't know if I've ever actually seen one in person. That thing costs as much as a whole high-end workstation by itself :)

Posted on 2013-02-15 01:26:31

im curious to see in your next round, the GTX 680 4gb vs the Quadro 4000 + 5000

Posted on 2013-03-17 21:15:46

Should i go for 7970 or 680 GTX for Lighting n Rendering ??

Posted on 2013-09-01 18:51:14

I would say that depends on your software - and as shown above, if you are using Maya then the AMD Radeon HD 7970 would be a powerful choice. Some other software favors NVIDIA cards, though, so take a look at online benchmarks and the recommendations of the folks who make the software you use.

Posted on 2013-09-02 16:13:32

This test is accurate, Firepro and consumer AMD cards works really good in Maya, as an FX TD for 3 years and a Generalist for 10 years , and lately using Houdini,here is my input,

For MAYA, as a freelancer an AMD HD 7950 with 3GB ram is perfect, I have this on my home machine and it runs better than its NVIDIA competitor, like GTX 760 or 770.

For HOUDINI, definitely NVIDIA, AMD drivers suck in Houdini, new release Houdini 13 is a ton better with AMD in terms of speed, but you still get corrupt text, etc.

If you use NUKE for comping together with Mari for texturing I suggest you go with an NVIDIA so you can take advantage of CUDA.

and lastly a request, please add Houdini 13 to these kind of tests, as it is now pretty much the mainstream software for FX artists.

Posted on 2013-11-22 17:30:43

is ( ZOTAC NVIDIA GeForce GT 610 Synergy Edition 2 GB DDR3 ) Graphics
Card good for Autodesk maya and 3ds max?

Posted on 2015-11-23 10:49:35

I'm sorry, but no - that is a very low-end video card, and not at all well suited to 3D applications.

Posted on 2015-11-23 16:10:11

ok so can u please recommend me which one to buy to run Maya and 3ds max?

Posted on 2015-11-24 19:00:11

When it comes to something like the GT 610 vs the CPU's onboard graphics -- does the GT 610 have an advantage? (Asking from the POV of a very very budget build for a college student hoping to use a bit of Maya). Thanks!

Posted on 2016-02-16 09:40:08

The performance of a GT 610 is going to usually be slower than a modern Intel CPU's onboard graphics - but it can potentially still have some minor advantages:

- Dedicated video RAM on the card, instead of taking a portion of the system's RAM (which is what onboard graphics do)
- CUDA support for NVIDIA-specific applications, though the performance for such programs would be very poor (since the card is pretty slow)

It can also be used to provide extra video outputs, to supplement those provided by onboard graphics... but the more common use case is in systems that don't have onboard graphics and only need very basic video output. Workstations which are focusing on computing without the need for advanced 3D graphics, for example.

Posted on 2016-02-16 16:14:24

I'd also add that neither one is going to be very good. Even if you go up to the GT 710 (which came out since this article was published 4 years ago) you are not going to get great performance. What I would recommend is to use onboard graphics at first, then upgrade to a Quadro K620 when you get a chance. If you look at our other Maya GPU article (https://www.pugetsystems.co... you can see how much better even the lowest end standard Quadro performs compared to what was the fastest GeForce card available. The Quadro K620 is usually ~ $150 if you purchase it as just a part, but you should get ~2-3 times the performance compared to onboard or a low end GeForce card

Posted on 2016-02-16 18:17:32

Thanks Matt. This is a SUPER-budget system for a kid i know. Maybe I'll get him started off bare-bones and then he can upgrade his gfx card if he takes a liking to Maya.

Posted on 2016-02-18 06:33:57

Appreciate the response William! Thanks.

Posted on 2016-02-18 06:32:20