It’s easy to test graphics boards in desktop computers: you pop off the lid, disable the existing board, stick in the new one in a spare slot, reboot the computer, and install the new display drivers. But laptop computers are different, because the graphics circuitry cannot be disabled or replaced. There is no spare slot; you can’t change what’s inside of them. [...Read More...]

It’s like it’s the day after Christmas; all the toys have been played with, food and drink consumed and the relatives have left. Now, I just have this weird empty feeling. Not as bad as losing your best friend, though. Close, but…

As I’ve come to expect, SolidWorks put on a great show. I really liked the layout of the Anaheim Convention Center. I didn’t feel like I had to walk miles to get to wherever my destination was. Which isn’t to say I didn’t do a lot of walking, ‘cause I did. I’m quite confident that I lost a couple of pounds. Well, extremely hopeful anyway. As has become the norm these past few years, I spent more time observing than attending with most of my observing taking place in the Vendor Fair. It’s here that I thank those companies that have given me the opportunity to try out their products, while meeting with new companies. The amount of partner products out there is pretty impressive. There are times when I want to say “there’s an app for that”, then look over my shoulder to be sure the Apple police aren’t coming after me for copyright infringement. This year’s Vendor Fair was well attended by vendors from all segments of the industry: rapid prototyping, CMM, CAM, PLM, PDM, etc. Need a model of a human body for your Weird Science experiment? Zygote has your back (and front…left foot). Design automation? DriveWorks or TactonWorks will duke it out for your business. How about a new computer? Boxx, HP and Dell will regale you with stories of why there PC kicks the other guys’ butt! What about a cool 3D model of your completed Weird Science experiment? Zcorp, Objet or Solido would be more than happy to impart their wondrous knowledge of all that is 3D printing upon you.

One of the greatest things about SolidWorks 2010 was the arena where the general assemblies were held. Rather than a large conference room where the people in back had to stand to see, the Anaheim convention center had an arena with 2nd and 3rd level seating. I think this helped to get everyone “close” to the stage. It also seemed to lessen the running of people to get to the front of the venue. A lot of people seemed quite happy to sit in one of the upper levels. James Cameron was a great choice as the keynote, too. Much better than Wozniak a few years ago.

I’d say my biggest complaint was the Tuesday night event, a complaint that is being voiced by many. It was held in the same huge room that we ate breakfast and lunch in and was really a step down from previous years. An Aerosmith cover band was the entertainment and BBQ was the food. For a 3D software conference event, it was rather one dimensional. Too loud, too dark, too few seats, too few food choices. I’m trying to find out why there was such a deviation from years past. If I get anything, I’ll let you know.

Would any of the above stop me from going to San Antonio next year? Hell no! I think the plusses way outweigh the negatives and wouldn’t miss it for anything. I hope to see you there.

ATI FirePro V5700

Posted on April 9th, 2009. Posted In Hardware Review,SolidWorks Community

About two weeks ago I came home to find a large box addressed to me. Inside was a test computer from ATI loaded with their FirePro V5700 graphics card. ATI asked that some of us bloggers test out this card some time ago and I got to be one of the first. I haven’t touched an ATI card in four or five years. I had all sorts of annoying problems and haven’t heard enough good things in the intervening years to want to. However, I was looking forward to trying this one out. In the past few months, there’s been some rumblings about ATI and the progress they’ve made with their cards.

The machine they sent was an HP wx4600 with the following specs:

  • XP Pro – 32 bit
  • Core2 Duo E8600@3.33 GHz
  • 4Gb Ram
  • ATI FirePro V5700 (Driver version 8.543.0.0)
  • It came loaded with SolidWorks Premium 2009 as well.

I created all sorts of funky models, assemblies and their related drawings and was not unhappy with the results. I loaded up a large assembly I have (~4500 parts) and, again, not unhappy with the results. I didn’t see any of the “ghosting” I’ve seen, and heard about, nor was there any choppiness or any other funky graphics issues. In the model/assembly arena, the card did very well.

The one area that I did see a problem was in PhotoWorks. Some of the renderings I did just weren’t quite right. The part would have striations running through it and I kept losing the reflection off the floor. Obviously, if you use PhotoWorks, this would cause you great pains. Just to be sure, I tried the exact same thing on my M4300, and didn’t see the same thing. As a matter of fact, the renders looked much nicer.

Another thing that I couldn’t quite figure out was the settings for the card. With nVidia cards, there’s a nice interface where you get choose your 3D package and let it drive the settings. For someone like me, that’s a huge bonus. With the ATI interface, I saw no such options. There were a bunch of different categories to choose from, and you’d get previews of changes, but I, personally, just wasn’t sure about what I was changing sometimes. Obviously, this could be attributed to my lack of knowledge in the graphics settings area.

Overall, the card wasn’t bad. Would I run out and buy one? No, it just didn’t impress me enough to switch from nVidia. Plus, the issues with PhotoWorks make me a bit leery. However, individual test results may vary. Over the coming weeks, the other bloggers will be writing about their experiences with the same machine, so stay tuned.

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