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FirePro card with same performance as Radeon 6970

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  • Radeon
  • Performance
  • Graphics
Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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August 21, 2012 9:08:15 PM

I am looking for an AMD FirePro card that delivers comparable performance to a Radeon 6970 card with 2GB memory. It should perform the same or better with the Unreal Engine 3 (DirectX).

We require the additional reliability that the FirePro products claim and are ready to pay the additional price. From what I can tell, the W9000 and W8000 would likely be overkill so I am wondering whether trying a W7000 card would be worth while.

Any advice appreciated!

Nathan

More about : firepro card performance radeon 6970

August 21, 2012 10:46:11 PM

Unless you are using pro apps, going with a FirePro is a poor use of your $$$, What apps are you planning on using?

Also, what are the specs for the rest of your system?
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August 21, 2012 10:56:03 PM

We build training simulators for heavy machinery which are based on the Unreal Game Engine (UE3). So essentially are simulators are like any Direct X video game. We realize that the pro video cards are not geared towards game engines, but as long as they are Direct X compatible I expect things to run fine.

The reason we want to switch to a professional series graphics card is because we regularly run into reliability issues with the Radeon 6970. Specifically we have found the Catalyst Contol Center extremely buggy when it comes to detailed Eyefinity configuration. It has become obvious the Radeon 6970 hardware and driver software does not pass through very stringent quality control. We expect to actually save money in maintenance costs.
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August 21, 2012 10:56:04 PM

Understood. What is your planned budget? Also, how many displays do you plan to connect to each workstation?
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August 21, 2012 11:04:06 PM

You had also asked about specs:

Processor Intel Core i7-2600K LGA1155, 3.40GHz w/ 8MB Cache
Mother board Asus Sabretooth P67 B3
Graphics Sapphire Radeon HD 6970 2GB GDDR5 PCI-E
Memory Corsair Vengeance 8GB DDR3 1600MHz Kit (2 x 4GB)
HD OCZ Vertex 3 SATA III 2.5in SSD 60GB
OS Windows 7 Professional (64bit)

Budget-wise I think we could allow up to $2000/video card if they prove to be reliable.

We connect two displays in Eyefinity configuration, each running to a 1080p TV.

We target our frame rates around 30fps, minimum 20fps and are typically limited by the shader performance because our materials are computationally heavy.

Thanks for your help!
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August 21, 2012 11:08:02 PM

From the example I sent earlier, you can see it is quite expensive to step up to an equivalent pro GPU. What specific problems are you guys having with the HD6970s?

Also, I assume these rigs are doing some degree of multi-tasking. If so, I would bump up to 16GB of RAM.
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August 21, 2012 11:21:48 PM

The main issues we've seen so far:

- The Catalyst Control Center software is very buggy. We tested versions 11.6 through 11.12 and repeatedly ran into the same issues while configuring Eyefinity. Following a clear set of steps would produce different results at different times.

- The Eyefinity configuration can become corrupted if you start a machine with one of the displays unplugged. The configuration can not be reliably recovered through the Catalyst Control Center (not with following logical steps, not with storing a profile and recovering it etc.). The only reliable way we found was programmatically through the AMD Display Library (ADL) SDK. It seems like the underlying driver might actually be reasonable but the software CCC software layered on top is awful. I spent hours on the phone with AMD tech support only for them to tell me it might be a Sapphire issue, even though it was clear CCC had many issues.

- One unit is supposedly randomly crashing first showing "pixelated then gray screens". Supposedly a few reboots address the issue. We suspect this might be the video card overheating. Since I have heard Quadro cards described as "underclocked GeForces" I expected the FirePro cards might be similar and thus less susceptible to overheating issues.
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August 21, 2012 11:25:12 PM

COLGeek said:
These GPUs look very promising:

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/firepro-w8000-w9000...


That was the article I based my conclusion on that the w8000 or w9000 might be overkill.

I am curious - how did you come to the conclusion that the number of stream processors would be critical issue? I hadn't been paying attention to that number much so far.
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August 21, 2012 11:26:10 PM

The FireXXX series use different drivers (with Catalyst). They are optimized for accuracy where the Radeons are optimized for speed. The GeForce/Quadros are similar in nature.

Catalyst is now up to 12.8. Have you tried the most recent versions?

I agree on the "gray screen" rig. Sounds like overheating. Are you monitoring system temps?

Also, are you overclocking any of these systems? If so, I would stop. You need stability and predictability more than raw speed (and additional heat and power consumption).
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August 21, 2012 11:39:43 PM

We have not tested the recent releases of CCC thoroughly yet.

So the FirePro cards still run the same CCC on top of the drivers? That is bad news for me :( 

We are not overclocking for exactly the reasons you listed.

We are not monitoring system temps but we should definitely start that on that system. Any recommendations for simple temperature logging software?

Nathan
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August 21, 2012 11:51:29 PM

But the Hydravision/Eyefinity support is more robust. Catalyst is really just a configuration tool. Not to worry.

Get hwmonitor for temps measurement. Good tool and free.

Get it at:

http://www.cpuid.com/softwares/hwmonitor.html
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August 21, 2012 11:55:37 PM

You should also try the latest Catalyst release (12.8) to see how it affects your issues. Worth a shot while you decide on the FireXXX path (or not).
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