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Pix4D 4.3 GPU Comparison: GeForce RTX 2070, 2080, and 2080 Ti

Written on November 20, 2018 by William George
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Introduction

Pix4D is an advanced photogrammetry application, suited to a wide range of uses, with a focus on handling images captured by drone cameras. Processing of those images into point clouds and 3D meshes / textures is time-consuming, making heavy use of both the central processing unit (CPU) and graphics processor (GPU / video card) in a computer. Since NVIDIA recently updated their GeForce GPU line, and Pix4D released a new version of their software, we thought it was a good time to test out several different video cards to see how they perform in Pix4D. We also tested multi-GPU configurations, to see if using a pair of cards would help in Pix4D, which you can see here.

Pix4D Logo

Test Hardware

The CPU platform we tested these video cards on was Intel's X299, with one of the top-end processors it supports. This isn't the absolutely fastest CPU for Pix4D, as we discovered during processor testing we were doing concurrently, but it is fast enough to let us see the difference in performance provided by various GPUs. Speaking of which, we included the full line of NVIDIA's new GeForce RTX cards in this test, along with several of the previous generation GTX cards and the top-end Titan V.

If you want to see full details, with links to the various part pages, .

Methodology

In order to be able to test multiple image sets with multiple iterations, we put together an AutoIt script that runs Pix4D without manual input. Because of the automation we used, all steps were performed back-to-back with no editing in-between to clean up point clouds. That means these results may not perfectly match up with what you'd see when using Pix4D in a real-world workflow, but it removes any chance of human error altering results between runs. We did still observe small variances on total processing time with each image set, so we ran them three times and selected the fastest result (lowest time) for each image set to be included in the charts below.

As mentioned above, we tested several different image sets: two each in both 3D Model and 3D Map modes. These are the most demanding of the processing methods in Pix4D, hence our focus on them over the various other options available. No settings were altered from the defaults. Descriptions of the image sets we used, and what processing mode they were used with, are available below.

Image Sets

Here is information about the image sets we used, including project type (3D Model vs 3D Map), listed in order of complexity:

 

Eagle Model
Eagle Statue Photo Set Point Cloud44 Images from Pix4D website

Building Map
Building Map Photo Set Point Cloud36 Images from Pix4D website

 
 

Wolf Model
Wolf Statue Photo Set Point Cloud100 Images provided by Pix4D

Station Map
Wolf Statue Photo Set Point Cloud739 Images provided by Pix4D

 

Results

Here are the results for total processing time on each of the four image sets, across all of the tested GPUs. The new GeForce RTX models are shown in a dark shade of green, to make them easy to spot, with the previous-generation cards in lighter green:

Pix4D 4.3 GPU Comparison - Eagle Model Image Set with 44 Photos

Pix4D 4.3 GPU Comparison - Building Map Image Set with 36 Photos

Pix4D 4.3 GPU Comparison - Wolf Model Image Set with 100 Photos

Pix4D 4.3 GPU Comparison - Station Map Image Set with 739 Photos

As these graphs demonstrate, there is not a big impact on overall Pix4D performance from the video card. The total processing time only varies between 2 and 8% from the fastest to slowest card, depending on the image set and processing mode (map vs model).

This is due to the fact that the video card is mostly used in Step 1 of Pix4D's calculations, and while that can be a sizable portion of the processing time for models it is much smaller when doing maps (since there are additional steps not present when working on models). Additionally, some of the cards perform so closely to each other that their Step 1 times are basically the same - within margin of error. You can see that better in the raw data chart below, which shows the times for individual steps on each video card and project:

Pix4D 4.3 GeForce GPU Comparison Data Chart

Conclusion

Pix4D's use of the video card is small enough that even a mid-range card like the GeForce GTX 1060 isn't a bad choice, but within the current line of GeForce RTX cards, our recommendation would be to go with the RTX 2070. It is measurably faster than the older 1060 and 1070 Ti, and cheaper than the older 1080 Ti and current 2080 models - which were never more than a few seconds faster.

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Tags: Pix4D, GPU, Performance, NVIDIA, GeForce, GTX, 1080 Ti, 1080, 1070 Ti, RTX, 2070, 2080, 2080 Ti, Titan V, photogrammetry
TimmyD

Thank you for the different hardware tests you have done for Pix4D. I am running the latest Pix4D on Asus X99 Deluxe MB, i7-5930k 3.5ghz, Nvidia GTX 770, 64gb RAM and SSD drives. I have about $1000 to put toward an upgrade and wanted to see where you think I will get the best bank for my buck on upgrades. Thanks again for the great info!!

My RAM is DDR4 1066. To move up to the I9 will require a new MB, which I think will require new RAM. When looking at the Asus and MSI board I don't think my RAM will move over. So I could upgrade my i7 processor to a slightly better and go with something like a GTX 1080 card. If I did that do you think I would see some decent improvements? Hopefully you can shed advise on what you would do if you had my same setup :)

Posted on 2018-11-26 18:16:38

Hmm, given your budget that is a little tricky. I'd stick with your video card and RAM for now, I think, and focus on getting a better CPU. However, your X99 motherboard is a limiting factor there. The fastest it will let you go is a Core i7 6950X 10-core, which would be a good boost over what you have now... but it is over $1000 still, if you want a new-in-box model. You can get used ones under $1k, but that may be more risky. Also, it means more money invested in an old platform.

Another option is to go with a newer motherboard and CPU, but that means you won't be able to spend as much on the CPU itself. You should be able to reuse your RAM (I believe X99 used DDR4, though it may not be as fast as newer CPUs can utilize) and video card, though you may need a new CPU cooler depending on which CPU you move to (and what cooler you have now).

If you go that direction, there are two options that make sense:

Intel Core i9 9900K and Z390 - This is a good CPU if you work on mostly small projects in Pix4D, but suffers on larger projects because it only has 8 cores. It is also the top-end processor in this series, so you wouldn't be able to upgrade further in the future (without yet another new motherboard).

AMD Threadripper and X399 - This is a more expensive platform, and more sensitive to lower RAM speeds, but it is the platform that will offer the best performance at the top-end for Pix4D - especially with larger image sets. You can probably get a motherboard, CPU cooler (I'm 99% sure you'll need a new one), and 1950X processor within your $1000 budget, but check your power supply and chassis cooling / airflow as well. These CPUs are notoriously power hungry and can generate a lot of heat, so it is possible that those areas could give you trouble since you are upgrading an older system. The 1950X is also not the latest / fastest chip in this family, but it should be solid - matching the 9900K in medium size projects and faster than it in larger models and maps. Moreover, it gives you the option to swap in a faster 2990WX down the road for a further boost to performance.

Check out our CPU performance article for more info on how these chips compare. The TR 1950X is just a little slower than the 2950X:

https://www.pugetsystems.co...

Posted on 2018-11-26 19:48:41
TimmyD

Thank you! I missed your reply before I edited my question but I have followed your advice. I got the ASrock X399 board, Threadripper 1950X, new DDR4 3600 Ram 64gb, , and a cooling fan. All for right at $1300. I will do as you say and stay with existing GTX 770 (will upgrade this down the road). Thank you again for your help!!!! New Egg had some nice pricing today so timing was great. Take care!

Posted on 2018-11-26 21:03:36