Historically, the sole function of a graphics card was to drive the GUI (Graphical User Interface) displays connected to your PC. Modern GPUs are now a critical component in a video workstation as they perform multiple roles within the post-production pipeline; enhancing the playback performance of video previews and GPU accelerated effects on the timeline, reducing the time taken to transcode/encode videos, and rendering at the highest quality.
The graphics card can also be used to drive certain complex and intensive compute tasks, such as the image processing that occurs during RAW conversion and colour grading. Applications such as REDCINE-X, ARRIRAW Converter, Sony RAW Converter, Adobe Premier Pro CC and Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve all make specific use of the NVIDIA CUDA GPU programming language to accelerate workflow with real-time playback and processing horsepower. As a result we recommend choosing a graphics card from the NVIDIA GeForce or Quadro ranges in our mobile and desktop NLE and Grading workstations.
GeForce cards are designed for consumer Gaming PCs and so their aggressive pricing gives them excellent bang per buck. For driving a couple of displays a basic £100 GeForce GTX card will do the trick, with a more powerful £150 or so card recommend for more than two displays. If you want to take advantage of GPU acceleration in your applications then we recommend the more powerful GeForce cards which start at around £280, with the more expensive cards providing faster processing speeds. When dealing with 4K footage , the amount of CUDA cores and VRAM available to the system becomes an important factor. We recommend choosing a GeForce graphics card with at least 8GB of on-board memory.
Alternatively you may wish to consider a professional-grade Quadro card. Manufactured by PNY for 3XS, these are specially engineered for 24/7 operation, offering high reliability and longevity compared to the consumer-grade GeForce cards. Quadro cards also have mission-critical certified drivers for many leading professional applications such as Adobe Premier Pro CC, Avid Media Composer, Black Magic DaVinci Resolve and many more, providing advanced support for stereo workflow, low-latency video I/O and the ability to drive up to four 4K Displays (4096x2160 @ 60 Hz) with 30-bit colour precision. If you're working with 4K or RAW footage we recommend the Quadro M5000 graphics card with 2048 CUDA cores and 8GB of on-board memory. For a full list of certified drivers please visit the NVIDIA Quadro website.
The graph below shows the performance of various NVIDIA Quadro cards relative to a pair of Intel Xeon E5-2697 v3 CPUs outputting a final render in Adobe Premier Pro CC.
2 x M6000
2 x M5000
2 x M4000
Dual Xeon CPUs
Please note that not all effects support GPU acceleration. Performance also depends on what resolution and codecs you are using.
Many professional video applications such as Adobe Premiere Pro CC and Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve Studio support the use of multiple NVIDIA graphics cards to harness the compute power of thousands of CUDA cores and fast VRAM memory, allowing you to accelerate image processing tasks even further. DaVinci Resolve Studio performs all image processing in GPU and allows you to scale your workflow performance with support for eight graphics cards connected via a PCI-E expansion chassis.
When grading 4K+ or RAW media we recommend the following multi-GPU configuration; Quadro M4000 card to drive the primary UI display (allows the use of multiple 30-bit colour accurate GUI displays), plus multiple GeForce GTX Titan X or Quadro M6000 cards to perform the dedicated GPU processing tasks.
Resolve requires Blackmagic Design video I/O Hardware (e.g. DeckLink 4K Extreme) to drive a 10-bit reference monitor for full-screen playback.