APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: The reference computer is a HP Pavilion p6516f-b package (it was on sale at Staples for $630) purchased July 4th. The aim is a sub $900 entry-level workstation for engineering apps.
Athlon II X4 630 [stock]
6GB DDR3 memory (upgradable to 16GB) [stock]
1TB 5400RPM WD HDD [stock]
Foxconn AMD 785G Mobo, with ATI Radeon HD4200 256MB DX10.1 [stock]
250W PSU [stock] (will swap to 400W or 500W if necessary)
* 40W TDP on the Quadro FX 580 (according to the Nvidia site)
* 75W TDP on the Firepro V4800 (http://www.phoronix.com/vr.php?view=14937)
Irrelevant: Realtek Onboard sound
full specifications:HP specs
motherboard specifications:785G mobo specs
The ATI Radeon HD 4200 onboard is fine for Microsoft Office and 720p video but is an atrocity when it comes to professional applications such as Solidworks, ANSYS, and 3DSMax. It is DX 10.1 and has 256MB memory.
BUDGET RANGE: Given a 170 dollar budget, which card is better? ($50 for better PSU if needed)
PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: B&H, J&R, newegg, amazon, bestbuy
PARTS PREFERENCES: I don't mind if it is ATI Firepro or Nvidia Quadro FX, performance is what matters
OVERCLOCKING: reliability is a concern so no overclocking
MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1600x900 (20" HP 2010i LCD that came with bundle which is unfortunately only 24 bit and not 30 bit color depth)
The Quadro FX 580 is purchasable at 130...
I read reviews comparing the Quadro FX 580 with the older generation Firepro V5700 and such. The Quadro FX 580 won by a landslide in Solidworks in Specview and in anything with engineering. According to the core it is using, which is found in the Geforce 9500GT it is outdated.
There are many articles stating the Firepro V4800 (which uses the Radeon HD 5670 core) is much better than the previous generations and several people on this forum stated it was faster than the previous generation's midrange V5700. (See http://fireuser.com/blog/pc_perspecitve_and_phoronix_review_the_new_firepro_v5800_and_v3800/ )There are no benchmarks comparing it to the Quadro FX 580. The 400 stream processors of the Firepro compared to the Quadro's 32 CUDA cores are impressive, but the previous generation (V5700) also had 320 stream processors and still lost in all CAD benchmarks.
Hardware-wise, the quadro FX has half the memory and is running GDDR3 instead of the faster GDDR5 in the Firepro.
My concern is that the Quadro FX does not have OpenGL 3.2, OpenCL, or shader model 5.0 since it is an older generation which may be a problem with new software in the next few years.
The problem is, with the Firepro V4800 (which is about 20% more expensive and ~60% more expensive if PSU is replaced) , will the computer be the bottleneck? I think it would also need a new PSU.
Another thing is given that it is a Micro-ATX motherboard, would a Quadro FX 380 LP (which has OpenGL 3.2 support but not shader model 5.0) or Firepro V3800 be more reasonable for the power and space constraints?
NVIDIA Quadro® FX 4800, NVIDIA Quadro® FX 3800, NVIDIA Quadro® FX 1800, NVIDIA Quadro® FX 580, NVIDIA Quadro® FX 380, NVIDIA Quadro® NVS 295, ATI FireProTM V8700, ATI FireProTM V5700, ATI FireProTM V3750, ATI FireProTM V2260
Amazon doesn't have the HP version of the Firepro for sale at this time.
However, the retail one is up for 170: Amazon link
Right now the Quadro FX 580 has gone back up to 150 or so (Amazon, B and H.)
The Quadro FX 380 LP looks like it might be okay since it has OpenGL 3.2 but it only has 16 CUDA cores, no DX11 or Shader model 5. Granted it takes 28W TDP but it has less memory bandwidth than the Firepro V3800 from ATI (which is based on the Radoen HD 5570's core) and no DX11 or shader model 5. Ironically the FX 380 (not LP but regular FX 380) has more memory bandwidth but only 256MB of memory.
Any opinions? The discount offer for the Quadro FX cards end on 7/31, which is tomorrow...but after some thinking (and jomofro39's following post) I don't think I'm going to go with the Quadro FX series.
Option 1: Quadro FX 380LP
I'm thinking the cheapest (in terms of power) option is FX 380 LP, which has DX 10.1, OpenGL 3.2, Shader Model 4.1 (same as the integrated HD 4200, but can have up to 512MB ram instead of the measly 256MB on the integrated chipset). It only takes 28W TDP.
I eliminated the Quadro FX 380, 580 since they are of an older generation than the integrated graphics (Shader model 4.0 and OpenGL 3.0). Also, absolutely no possibility of Hybrid CrossFire.
The problem with this is:
no GDDR5 memory on the card
no DX 11, Shader model 5
16 stream processors instead of the 40 on the integrated , 400 on the Firepro V3800
AMD motherboard and chipset would probably play better with the Firepro V3800
For the price, V3800 has better performance numbers based off numbers
Option 2: Firepro V3800
I'm thinking this is the best "cheap" option.
No GDDR5 memory
43W instead of 28W, not the lowest power consumption
Need to wait for it to ship
Costs about $20 more than the Radeon HD 5570 it is derived from (about 30% more), with half the RAM
Option 3: Firepro V4800
Higher power consumption (69W)
~80% more cost compared to V3800
not a big problem but 2 Displayport outputs that won't be used instead of just 1 (designed for 3 screens)
about $60 more than normal Radeon HD 5670 (about 60% more)
not low profile (full height, half length)
Need to wait for it to ship
Processor/Motherboard/RAM might become weakest link
I would say, get the 4800. For the price, you can't go wrong getting 1 gb ddr5 memory and all the newer goodies that come with it being a current generation card. The quadro might beat it at a few things, but I do not believe it could be 6 hours to render vs 3 hours etc. I would hope the differences are small. You seem to have done your homework, which is good.
Your issue is this then, if you got the 4800, you would have to get a new psu, no doubt about it. I wouldn't trust it any other way. The nvidia doesn't need a new psu, but you are missing on the shader 5 and dx11. So for the MOMENT, it is a better deal, but if programs begin to take advantage of say, tesselation (from dx11) during your photo realistic assemblies, you would be able to whip that around much faster with the 4800 than the nvidia. But then if you wanted to render an entire animation photorealistic, possibly the nvidia would come out on top? Keeping in mind there are no benches specifically putting these two against each other, it is hard to say what will happen in whichever situation.
Personally, I would get the newer 4800 and psu, because that would probably seem more like a long term solution to me, and that could translate into $/month value if you end up getting a newer video card a year from now after gettin the nvidia, where it could be up to two-three years with the 4800. who knows? not I.
Choice is yours, there is my 2 cents.
I was able to get it with free shipping, sans tax for $156 (which is basically 143 before tax if I were to pick it up in person, making the Quadro FX 580 not even close in price/performance).
The PSU requirement is higher than the 250W stock PSU so I needed to get one. The PSU on the Firepro datasheet asks for "350-Watt power supply or greater".
For the PSU to be met at 100% load, I calculated the wattage required at peak load:
366W according to Newegg and 339W on Extreme PSU calculator with 100% TDP on CPU, 8 USB devices, 4 banks of RAM, 2 120mm fans, 100% system load
Note that in both calculators I used the HD 5670 since that is the card the Firepro V4800 is based off.