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mobile GPUs - professional vs. non-professional

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Last response: in Laptop General Discussion
November 19, 2006 2:18:30 PM

I wonder if some other people also have this issue, but I can't really compare the 'professional' vs. 'normal' mobile GPU offerings from nVidia or ATI. How do the ATI Mobility Radeon series compare in performance to the ATI Mobility FireGL series? Or at nVidia, how do the GeForce Go products compare to the Quadro FX prodicts? (And what is this Quadro NVS line anyway?)

I wonder if there's a real performance comparison between these lines of cards. It's quite difficult to make an educated decision of which mobile GPU to go for without knowing how these compare. The marketing blurb on the vendors' site doesn't help much either. And of course, the decision is never free - usually one can't really select between different cards for the same laptop, but one has to go for a totally different laptop altogether.


PS: though I'm interested in this topic in general, my particular interest is in selecting a 15.4" WUXGA laptop to be used with Linux, where 3D is interesting for gaming mostly, and for XGL, etc.

More about : mobile gpus professional professional

November 25, 2006 8:11:10 AM

If you are going to use it mostly for gaming stay away from the Quadro and the Fire lines. These are optimized for rendering and not gaming.
November 25, 2006 10:50:05 AM

well, yes, but not may gaming laptops are around with 15.4" WUXGA screens - most of them are 17", or lower resolution :( 
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November 25, 2006 1:37:33 PM

You don't want a 15.4" WUXGA notebook bro, trust me.
It will be all but impossible to see, and any gaming you do at those levels will bury the vid cards they put in notebooks of that size, especially CAD/rendering cards that aren't designed for gaming like the Fire and the Quadro.

I am not saying a 512 MB Quadro isn't going to be able to handle games, it just isn't designed for them, just as a 7900 class card isn't designed for rendering, but it will do it fine. I should say optimized for that.

If you go into a little more detail of what you need it for primarily and the games themselves you play I can give you a better idea.
November 25, 2006 5:02:55 PM

Thanks for the tip - but I already had a WUXGA 15.4" laptop, and I wouldn't go for anything else. I need the real estate to keep all the windows around when working (software development mainly, on Linux). Gaming is a secondary concern, but a real one - as I'm into the capture-the-flag game regularly with collegaues.
November 27, 2006 4:06:29 PM

Ignore Mark on this one. It may be true in the past, but the Quadro cards are fully up to the task of gaming.
The GeForce Go cards are slightly faster for gaming, but you're splitting hairs. Example is the 7900 GTX scores a 4700 in 3DMark06.. The Quadro FX 2500M does a 4690 on the same test.

Here's a nice benchmarking comparo with all the available mobile cards.

The biggest issue beyond price is the future of OpenGL which the Quadro is optimized for. OpenGL isn't natively supported in Vista, and a lot of business software developers are transitioning over to Direct X standards. It won't die because that's what Linux uses from my understanding, but manufacturer's won't be putting as much effort into those drivers as they will the more standard Direct X...

Just my two cents.
November 27, 2006 4:14:57 PM

Thanks for the clarification. Acrually, I'm running Linux, even for gaming - so DirectX is not of a concern for me. Also, ATI drivers for Linux suck big time, for example I have issues with supsension using them now.

But most of the WUXGA 15.4" laptops I see are equiped with ATI, unfortunately :( 
November 27, 2006 6:00:04 PM

There are many laptops that offer Nvidia solutions. Asus is often marked with an m or s for Nvidia, example a8jm a8js f3jm etc.. or a p for ati cards a8jp. Big names like dell, gateway and hp also over nvidia solutions.

Now.. cfish , Mark is not wrong in what he said, but to clarify.
You won't find the 7900 or quadro fx2500 in a 15.4 notebook. The quadro costs more than the 7900 and even though it can game, it isn't "optimized" for that task. It will destroy the 7900 in encoding/rendering tasks. There's no need to buy it unless it was required. So, the best you can find in the 15.4 arena is a go7600gt though rare, or the Asus A8js which has a go7700. Over 4k in 3dmark05 aint' too bad, and you'll still have enough battery life to use it as a notebook. Otherwise.. what good is only an hour + or - notebook life anyways? But, that's just MHO
November 27, 2006 7:27:54 PM

Agreed fully about the cost issue... you pay a severe premium for the Quadro.
Sorry, the basic thought out there is that the Quadro series cards get absolutely stomped in games by their gaming card counterparts. This flat out isn't true for the Quadro; they've gotten a bad rep by gamers because the old ones suck for gaming. The gaming cards are better, but it's a very slight margin. So, the Quadro will monkey stomp the GeForce in business OpenGL programs at the slight of expense of a few fps during gaming (and relieving you of a few hundred extra dollars :D  ) I didn't go with one because of the Vista vs OpenGL business...... and I will be upgrading eventually.

a couple links:

And the Executioner with the 7900GTX vs Eurocom with the Quadro 2500M... look at the performance slideshow (please note the cpu differences too) Doom3 seems to be the only game it couldn't keep up on.

But alas, you (and Mark) are probably correct that you won't find the high end gpu's matched with a tiny 15".. if you find one that takes the 7950, or 7900, you can upgrade to a quadro though... Killernotebooks could of done that for me; just had to ask :wink: . btw; a little known fact is that you can also SLI the quadro cards...
November 27, 2006 9:27:20 PM

Another thing that you never see these other guys doing is putting a single card in the SLi set ups. It can be done, but no one is really doing it.
November 27, 2006 10:19:31 PM

Note: while I'm a Quadro fanboy, I still run the GeForce..

This is my new 3dMark06 (and I still had junk running in the background) :lol:  ... There isn't a Quadro that can match the 7950 GTX I just upgraded to on my Killernotebooks Executioner (easy to do btw)
November 27, 2006 11:03:21 PM

Now just get XCPU and O.C. that T7400 to about 2.66 Ghz and rock out!
November 28, 2006 1:42:48 PM

Now just get XCPU and O.C. that T7400 to about 2.66 Ghz and rock out!

Hooray! You heard it hear folks, my manufacturer telling me to overclock my ride that's still under warranty :lol:  ..

Have to mod the cooling first. I was kinda shocked to see how pathetic it is, particularly the cpu. Steel alloy's aren't the best conductors for the plate. At least they used copper for the heat tube and fin termination at the fan. Glueing on ram heatsinks is a start, but surely there's someway a bit better.
November 28, 2006 2:58:11 PM

Yea, dude, that's the Killer difference.
Why else would you have bought an unlocked CPU?

I am working on a custom fabricated CPU & GPU heatsink for the system as we speak. 100% pure copper.

I wouldn't "glue" anything on, I would use a thermal adhesive.

November 28, 2006 7:14:04 PM

No worries Mark, I got some solid copper evercool rhs-f117 heatsinks

and some artic silver adhesive to "glue / permanently bond" them on with instead of tape.
November 28, 2006 7:30:19 PM

Those look like some decent heat sinks. Alot of surface area, how thick are they?

I saw this CON on NewEgg about these:
Cons: Gouged lines on the bottom of the HS. They should be smooth to provide better contact.

Make sure you lap those things if they are not perfectly flat.
November 29, 2006 4:53:16 PM

They are:
Heat sink Dimension : 21x21x6mm ( x 8 pcs )
Material : Copper
Weight : 132.5 g
Should work because that pad is at least 10mm tall...

I think the new egg reference was scratches, not warping. Honestly, it can't be worse than that steel cpu plate... I got a long hard look at it while cleaning the artic silver off of it... man that stuff is sticky, particularly to unburnished steel alloys :lol:  . The plate has a few light scratches. When I get the heatsinks, I was gonna take it all apart again and see if I couldn't buff it a bit more for the best contact.

I was also going to pull the gpu cooler and locate the chips on it so my new heatsinks will be properly aligned on the plate (and replace the oem thermal compound with artic silver for better heat transfer)... I noticed the gpu plate is stainless steel. Do you know if steel was used because it is cheaper, or was it used for a thermal lag intentionally for some unknown reason, or maybe even because stainless in a non-reactive metal? I'm guessing cheap cost because I can't fathom why you'd want to slow down the thermal exchange to the heat pipes and the gpu should be nice inert ceramic resin....
November 29, 2006 5:19:44 PM

was also going to pull the gpu cooler and locate the chips on it so my new heatsinks will be properly aligned on the plate (and replace the oem thermal compound with artic silver for better heat transfer

Don't do that. The important memory chips are directly below the thermal pads on the top of the heatsink. There are a ton of chips smothered in thermal tape under there and the problem is that the chips are of different heights. AS5 isn't thick enough to make contact with the top of the heatsink and the memory chips do to the smaller chipsets holding the top of the heatsink away from the thinner memory chips, they compensated for that by using thermal pads of differing thicknesses. I think taking it apart is a nightmare waiting to happen.

I noticed the gpu plate is stainless steel. Do you know if steel was used because it is cheaper, or was it used for a thermal lag intentionally for some unknown reason, or maybe even because stainless in a non-reactive metal? I'm guessing cheap cost because I can't fathom why you'd want to slow down the thermal exchange to the heat pipes and the gpu should be nice inert ceramic resin....

I am not sure on the GPU where you are referring to, do you mean the CPU? I am looking at a card right now taken apart and I do not see the stell portion you are referring to.
November 29, 2006 5:39:49 PM

Thanks for the tip... I won't pull the cooler off. It does sound like a nightmare. I'll just slather the top copper plate with as many heatsinks as possible. Ditto for the cpu plate. The worst part looks like it will be the removal of all those labels...

The stainless I'm talking about is the one the heat tubes are attached to. Kinda a cross shaped piece with the screws and all those labels telling you what order to tighten them down. Hard to see with the handle and labels in the graphic....
November 29, 2006 6:25:57 PM

No, once you take those lables off you will see that is just a steel band that holds the GPU heatsink in place. Those bands hold the heatpipes in place which you do not want to leach heat off of.
Goto to the GuruOfGaming 7950 GTX page, and you will see the card w/o the stickers and I have a picture of the heat sink enclosure opened. You can see clearly here the best places to put your heatsinks w/o opening the card case. I have flipped and rotated the card on the right so as to simulate exactly where the heat sink rests. Basicacly if you just slid the second picture over you will see EXECTLY where it will line up on the top of the heatsink.
November 29, 2006 7:48:27 PM

Ah... thanks and nice writeup. Stickers covered up the saddle... Your pictures really help, and also the tip about leeching too much heat with the heatsinks and warming the case unintentionally..
December 1, 2006 12:10:17 AM

I just updated it tonight with a ver 3 heatsink mod. You should have a really good idea of where to place the heatsinks with the new pic. Read the commentsw to make sure you get the most heat transfer from what I have learned.

On the far left, the bottom of the 3 sinks, press it tight against where the green arrows are showing a gap in this picture.

Ver. 3 update.
September 12, 2007 1:06:41 PM

I was looking up where the hits on my forum were coming from and found this ancient thread!

Wow, what a blast from the past!
Here is an updated Heatsink Mod shot for the original Executioner, that was like 2 months after this last post.

Interestingly enough, at the time I started doing the heatsink mods all the other notebook vendors said, "Oh... you don't need that."
I recently got an email from the ODM stating, "We are unable to utilize the x7800 and x7900 CPUs in our systems until we design a heatsink that will allow us to run the CPU at lower temperatures."
Since I had been designing and manufacturing my own heatsink mods for almost a year, I already have one and have several x7800 & x7900's in the field.
If you flip it over it has 3x's the surface area of stock not including the fins!

And the coup de gras, the Killer Notebooks CPU & GPU heatsinks on the new Executioner SR:

The design and development is never done, you can find updated info on just about anything at the GuruOfGaming: