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Can you game on an NVIDIA Quadro GPU?

Written on November 13, 2014 by Matt Bach
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Introduction

Here at Puget Systems, we sell a wide variety of systems for an equally wide variety of uses. One situation we come across fairly regularly is a customer who needs a Quadro card for their professional work - be it AutoCAD, Maya, or any other application where a workstation card is highly recommended - but they still want to be able to play games in their downtime. They could purchase a second system just for gaming, but why spend that money if they can just use their existing workstation?

Workstation-class hardware like NVIDIA Quadro video cards tend to receive a really bad rap in the gaming community because the cost-to-performance ratio is not anywhere near as good as the GeForce cards that are designed and optimized specifically for gaming. Some have even gone to the point of claiming that you cannot play games on NVIDIA Quadro video cards at all! There is a kernel of truth to this - gaming cards will perform better in games for a much lower price. But saying that you cannot game on a workstation card is completely false. While it used to be true that workstations cards didn't support gaming technologies like DirectX or PhysX, modern Quadro cards no longer have this limitation.

Gaming on a Quadro video card

What we want to show in this article is exactly what kind of gaming performance you can expect from Quadro cards compared to their GeForce counterparts. To do this, we first need to look at the hardware specifications for the latest Quadro cards and find their closest matching GeForce equivalent:

Test Setup

In order to accurately measure how well NVIDIA Quadro cards perform in games, we want to compare a couple of Quadro cards against their closest GeForce equivalent. While we could use the GPU architecture itself (which includes the GPU core and number of CUDA cores) as a way to find the closest equivalent card, Quadro cards tend to have a much different core frequency and lower memory bandwidth than their GeForce counterparts. For this reason, we will instead be using the GPU's theoretical floating point performance in GFLOPS (which is essentially the core frequency times the number of CUDA cores) to determine which GeForce card we should compare to the Quadro cards.

Closest Performing Equivalent  
Quadro K2200 (1339 GFLOPS) GTX 750 Ti (1306 GFLOPS)
Quadro K4200 (2072 GFLOPS) GTX 760 (2258 GFLOPS)
Quadro K5200 (3070 GFLOPS) GTX 770 (3213 GFLOPS)
Quadro K6000 (5196 GFLOPS) GTX 780 Ti (5040 GFLOPS)

It is worth pointing out that these are not perfect matches and in some cases the difference in theoretical performance is still as large as 9%. Still, this is about as close as you can get and should be close enough to give us something to work with.

For our test system, we used the following hardware:


This test system is based on our popular Genesis I workstation and should provide a good platform to see how well the Quadro cards perform while gaming. Note that for this article we will only be specifically benchmarking the Quadro K2200 versus the GeForce GTX 750 Ti and the Quadro K5200 versus the GeForce GTX 770.

Quadro K2200 Gaming Performance

To see how the Quadro K2200 compares to the GeForce GTX 750 Ti we ran five different game benchmarks with the settings configured to give us an average FPS of around 60 with the GTX 750 Ti. Since we are more concerned about relative performance than the raw FPS numbers, we will be presenting the results as a percentage of the GTX 750 Ti's performance.


FPS graph available here

In terms of theoretical performance the Quadro K2200 should be about 2.5% faster than the GTX 750 Ti. However, in reality it turns out that the K2200 is on average about 7% slower than the GTX 750 Ti. The exact amount depends on the game and ranges anywhere from 4.6% (Unigine Heaven Pro 4.0) to 10.7% (DiRT Showdown).

There are two things that could account for the lower than expected performance from the Quadro K2200. First, one specification in which the GTX 750 Ti beats the K2200 is in memory bandwidth; the GTX 750 Ti is about 8% faster than the K2200. However, we don't believe that the memory bandwidth alone should make this much of a difference.

What is likely causing the performance discrepancy is the GeForce driver that the GTX 750 Ti uses. This driver has plenty of optimizations specifically for gaming and the Quadro K2200 is simply not getting those benefits since it uses the Quadro driver instead of the GeForce driver.

Quadro K5200 Gaming Performance

To see how the Quadro K5200 performs, we will be running the same five gaming benchmarks only with the settings changed to achieve approximately 60 FPS with the GTX 770.


FPS graph available here

In terms of theoretical performance, the Quadro K5200 should be about 5% slower than the GTX 770, plus whatever impact the GeForce drivers have on performance. Interestingly, unlike what we saw in the Quadro K2200 test where the K2200 performed under what we expected, the Quadro K5200 on average performed much better than we expected. In fact, only two games (Alien vs. Predator and Hitman: Absolution) showed a significant performance drop with the K5200. In the other three games, the K5200 actually performed above what we expected by 1.7-6.5%.

On average, this makes the Quadro K5200 only 3.5% slower than the GTX 770 versus the 5% we expected based on specifications alone.

Conclusion

To answer the original question of this article: Gaming is indeed entirely possible with a NVIDIA Quadro card. GeForce cards are, of course, a much better value given the high cost of Quadro cards, but if you already have a workstation with a Quadro card you shouldn't be limited in terms of what games you can play. All modern Quadro cards support technologies like DirectX and PhysX, so you should not run into issues running the vast majority of PC games.

As for what kind of gaming performance you can expect from a Quadro card, a lot of it is going to depend on the games you will be playing. From one game to another, we saw fluctuations in relative performance as high as 11%. However, based on our testing and years of experience working with Quadro video cards, we can make the following rough estimations of Quadro gaming performance:

K2200: ~5-11% slower than GTX 750 Ti
K4200: ~4-11% slower than GTX 760
K5200: ~2-11% slower than GTX 770
K6000: ~1-10% slower than GTX 780 Ti

These are very much broad estimations, but we feel that it should at least be in the right ballpark for each card. If you are happy with this performance then you should have no problems gaming with a Quadro video card. However, if you want better gaming performance than your current (or planned) Quadro card can provide, it may actually be cheaper to get a dedicated gaming system than to upgrade your Quadro card due to the cost of higher-end Quadro cards. 

Tags: Quadro, Workstation, Gaming
joe

is it possible to run a oem pcb based gtx 750 ti with quadro drivers and make use of 10-bit color depth over displayport? (opencl)

Posted on 2014-11-20 21:31:43
Guest

Can you please retest this with GeForce 347.09 WHQL driver & Quadro 347.09 beta driver?

http://www.nvidia.com/downl...

http://www.nvidia.com/downl...

Posted on 2014-12-29 21:25:46
AlphaC

Matt, in your first chart Quadros have less GFlops compute because you're not accounting for the Boost on Geforce cards. If you account for Boost, GTX 750 Ti = 1389 Gflops (4% more than the Quadro K2200). The memory Bandwidth difference is due to the memory clock (they have the same memory bus width and CUDA cores ; both chips are GM107). The K4200 is more like a GTX 670 than a GTX 760 , it is 256-bit memory bus with 1344 CUDA and using the GK104 chip. Quadro K200 uses GK110, not GK104 like the GTX770.

Posted on 2015-05-25 01:14:38
sulayman alsugair

hello, I'm planning my work station. but I'm looking at it from the other side will a titan x works for me with similar results as k5200 ?

Posted on 2015-06-28 19:22:53

In most situations, yes the Titan X will probably work great for you. A lot of it depends on what software you are using and whether the additional features of Quadro cards (ECC memory, double precision performance, and some driver optimizations) are necessary. We've tested some programs to compare Geforce and Quadro (https://www.pugetsystems.co... and it all depends on the program. For example, Premiere and AutoCAD is great with Geforce, whereas Maya really benefits from Quadro.

Posted on 2015-06-29 17:57:36
IShah100

Hi Matt, hope you can answer this. I am planning to get a Dell M4700 workstation i7 quad, which happens to have a Nvidia Quadro K2000M (2048 MB). I plan to connect it to an external monitor. My question is will it support my son's Minecraft gaming? If not is it possible to swap this Quadro video card with a newer one, say GTX 970? Thanks

Posted on 2016-07-29 15:06:52
Prashant

laptop video cards cannot be swapped or repaired.

Posted on 2017-03-21 11:09:00
Kelly Slow

This is a false statement. I have swapped many video cards in laptops (Alienware and Clevo). The M4700 can be swapped. It has an MXM 3.0B graphics slot.

Posted on 2017-09-11 16:01:29

Yup! I'm not sure why Prashant said that, because laptop video cards, and a lot of components in a laptop are FRUs (field-replaceable units). As long as you know how to get into and properly take apart your laptop, it's quite simple to replace.

Posted on 2018-04-26 00:19:16
Jesus Devito

yo minecraft will run great you don't neeed mch to run it

Posted on 2018-03-03 14:49:16
Amalgamator

depends, you can mod minecraft in ways (photorealism) that are really gpu-intensive.

Posted on 2018-04-28 23:28:57
Prashant

hey just buy 2x1080ti s one 1080ti will give you the exact same performance as the Titan x pascal. You buy two of those then boom! you got a lot of firepower in your PC whether it is a workstation or a gaming rig it will give you the best performance there is. Hope this helped you

Posted on 2017-03-21 11:06:02
MecurialSpectrum

Will this crash and burn if say 2 hours straight of medium setting gameplay on a k4200 ? by game I mean TERA ONLINE.

Posted on 2015-07-02 20:35:26

I would not expect any problems! That Quadro is roughly equal to the GTX 760, which isn't a powerhouse for gaming... but it is a perfectly viable card for games like Tera, especially if you are not trying to push past 1920x1200 resolution. The cooling on the Quadro cards is also fine - it is designed to keep them cool and working well even in heavy graphics applications, so it may be on the louder side but it shouldn't have any trouble keeping up with heat from gaming.

Posted on 2015-07-02 21:38:40
IShah100

Hi William, hope you can answer this. I am planning to get a Dell M4700 workstation i7 quad, which happens to have a Nvidia Quadro K2000M (2048 MB). I plan to connect it to an external monitor. My question is will it support my son's Minecraft gaming? If not is it possible to swap this Quadro video card with a newer one, say GTX 970? Thanks

Posted on 2016-07-29 15:07:28

Minecraft is very simple in its graphics requirements, so just about any modern video card - GeForce or Quadro - should do fine for it :)

Posted on 2016-07-29 16:09:33
Xbrotha

To anyone wondering, my K3100m is able to run basically every new game on medium - high. So if you want to do some gaming on this card, dont worry. It will be good.

Posted on 2015-11-10 19:51:18
Rey

Well Quadro's graphics card are dedicated for servers. Maximize it's use, setup a Lan Party and try to install 2012 Hyper-v on virtual machine and configure remotefx on same settings. You can run 10 virtual machine with high-end games in quadro series vs GTX. GTX graphics card is dedicated for single work station only.

Posted on 2016-01-05 09:48:13
RichHomieSteve

Whatt you can run 10 virtual machines on 1 card?

Posted on 2017-01-31 20:57:33
Atanas Atanasov

What will happen if you add a Tesla card? Will it increase the gaming performance? I am not able to find such information in the web.

Posted on 2016-01-19 19:03:29

No, Tesla is strictly intended for GPU compute (where the GPU is performing calculations to solve a mathematical problem, but not directly displaying anything on screen). Tesla is also much, much more expensive than a GeForce or even Quadro card so there is little reason to even try to use one for gaming.

Posted on 2016-01-19 20:17:07
Horation_Tobias_HumpleDinK

cool stuff but I already come to have two problems with my duel quadro FX 4800. That even though I have Direct X 11 -- I cant play XCOM 2 or Fallout 4. Even though the rest of my specs pass in flying colours the specs.

Posted on 2016-02-26 14:35:06

The Quadro FX 4800 is actually quite old, and pre-dates / does not support DirectX 11. It is limited to DirectX 10, which explains XCOM 2 not working.

Posted on 2016-02-26 16:09:06
Horation_Tobias_HumpleDinK

After further venturing yes the hardware is not built for Direct X 11 -- so aspects of Direct X 11 like tessellation which it cant handle means it does not work. I updated it on my PC and in the Windows direct x diagnostic thing it says that I have Direct X 11. It is however an illusion because hardware limitations of the card means they can only fake sort of Direct X 11. It shame because if it could handle Direct X 11 would be able to play XCOM 2 due to all the other specs passing with flying colours. I can play the previous XCOM though and looks great. So I likely will further down the line upgrade -- I wont go full hog with a gaming card setup because it is a workstation. So I need the better performance and stability from Workstation cards as well as real time altering of 3D. It only the last two games -- Fallout 4 and XCOM 2 that have not worked. Prior those games pretty much all the other games I acquired have worked great ;) So it last a good 7-8 years

Posted on 2016-02-26 17:29:27
reuben

I have a computer with the K2200 already installed for use on my architectural 3d rendering software, but I'd like to start doing some high end gaming too. I've checked the games min requirements, and the k2200 wont run them. Can I add an additional GTX card into the machine and run the games from that card while still allowing me to use the k2200 for the 3d stuff? If so, how do I set it up so that one will run the 3d stuff and the other will run the games?

Posted on 2016-08-11 01:07:29

You can do that to a very limited degree (such as having PhysX run on the GTX card), but that isn't really going to give you anywhere near the performance in games that having the GTX card as the primary would give you. At the same time, if the architectural software you are using needs a Quadro card, it's going to need it as the primary card.

Unfortunately, that means that both use-cases require the card to be the primary card. So unless you are willing to physically swap out the cards when you switch from work to gaming, you are pretty limited in terms of options.

Posted on 2016-08-11 18:19:20
Pawel Sopkowski

Hi,
Do you have any idea how the laptop type quadro cards compare?
Pawel

Posted on 2016-11-30 16:32:04
jPaul

Bonjour à tous. Pour ma part, je joue sur 2 workStations HP .Sans problème aucun, a des jeux de 2014/2015 avec une petite k600 dans une HP Z620 (2xE5-2640, 48goDDR3ECCr1333, 128SSD Win10) et avec un peu moins de détails élevés pour une FX 3800 dans une Z800 (2xX5650, 48goDDR3ECCr1333, HDD WD500go Win7pro64).
Si je devais passer aux GTX je choisirais vraisemblablement une 680 4gb très suffisant encore en 2017, ou une 1050 4gb, peut être RX470 8gb mais ++ chère. Et enfin, sachez que les jeux sont depuis très longtemps "fabriqués" sur des stations de travail (HP Z en général) équipées de quadros, puis adaptés aux gtx et aux radéons.
So Long

Posted on 2017-01-23 15:56:19
Aaron

Is it possible to run games like Knights of the old republic 1 and 2, half life 2, Jedi outcast and Jedi Academy since they are older games?

Posted on 2017-04-13 01:15:17
Aaron

On max settings at 1080p?

Posted on 2017-04-13 01:16:08
Spirit of 1776

Stop rattling the Nerd cages ...now its going to take a system reboot and three puffs of their inhalers to get them to calm !

Posted on 2017-06-24 12:35:02

yes

Posted on 2017-08-08 14:05:18
Desertsweeper

Would be interesting to get an update on this concept with Pascal. How would my P1000 compete with a GTX1050?

Posted on 2017-08-13 19:00:57
Sam Wayne

https://www.amazon.com/HP-F...

Is this good for gaming????
For gta 5 and high res games
If it needs any changes

Posted on 2017-10-27 16:15:34
Khaled Khalife

ummmmm please answer my question, will nvidia quadro 400 2 gb be able to run cs go ? it always crashes. sooooo idk if this is the reason or not please help. and i have direct x 12 .

Posted on 2017-10-29 19:53:21

Do you have the Quadro 400 or 4000? The 400 only has 512MB of memory, and you said 2GB... so I suspect you have the 4000 instead.

Either way, though, those are both pretty old cards now. They do *not* support DirectX 12: the 400 only supports DX10, and the 4000 specs say DX11. CS:GO is a pretty old game as well... so I would think that the 4000 might be able to handle it, but the 400 probably not. It is just too low-end. Even the 4000 may struggle because of how old it is, and it definitely wouldn't work well for newer or more demanding games.

I'd make sure you have the correct drivers for your video card from NVIDIA, and see if that helps. Good luck :)

Posted on 2017-10-30 16:19:25
Beta Zoid

Hi William, which is better suited and more powerful for VFX simulations work. GTX 1080TI vs Quadro P5000?

Posted on 2018-08-21 22:49:05

William might have a more accurate answer, but in terms of straight performance in most programs, the P5000 should be similar to the GTX 1070. To get to the level of the GTX 1080ti, you would need to be somewhere between the P6000 and the GV100.

Posted on 2018-08-22 04:17:31
Beta Zoid

Brilliant answer. Thanks Matt

Posted on 2018-08-22 08:39:55
Jeff B.

I am able to get a laptop that comes with a quadro p5000 through work for a discounted price. After reading through the article I wanted to ask if the same - 1-10% performance can be expected with the new cards that are out or, what is the closest performance comparison in the GTX line to the p5000 I can use as a way to see if the laptop will meet my needs or if I should just forgo the discount and purchase a gaming laptop at full price. Thanks!

Posted on 2017-12-08 18:40:16
Padraig O Cuinn

we have several laptops we use with the p5000 in it. There are quiet a few games that easily can be held with good frame rates too.
The p5000 is equivalent to the gtx1050

Posted on 2018-01-08 21:59:17
Bulkybear

I have a quadro M5000. So basically a GTX980, same core anyways. If the GTX and the Quadro QNF driver are the same version, does the Quadro driver also include the game optimizations of the GTX driver? Also, what if the Quadro QNF driver version is several versions higher than the GTX driver? This is my gaming PC, card was a hand me down. Right now I have force the GTX980 driver to install on this card but wonder if I'm actually gaining anything over the QNF driver.

Posted on 2018-05-03 02:53:52
Jose Pedro Garcia

Hi, I have a computer that has a quadro k2000. i7cpu with memory with 16gb of ram, would anyone say that it is viable to use for overwatch gaming?

Posted on 2018-06-11 19:57:23
Johnny

I would say yes. I do have a VM system with the K2000 and the amd7750 , so far both are about the same performance and i can play almost everything. Only Quantum break that give some hard time.

Posted on 2018-06-15 18:34:47