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Gaming Versus Workstation Performance : Radeon HD 4870 Versus FirePro V8700

AMD FirePro V8700: High-End Workstation Graphics

After our latest round of OpenGL workstation articles, we received numerous questions about why we didn't include a gaming series in our testing. It seems that not all of our readers were ready to accept our claims that gaming cards run more slowly than workstation graphics cards, especially where professional applications are concerned. That's why we include a comparison with hard numbers instead of vague generalizations in this story.

Performance Comparison: Viewperf 10
Graphics adapter
Radeon HD 4870FirePro V8700
Memory bus
Core Takt750 MHz750 MHz
Memory clock
900 MHz850 MHz
DriverCatalyst 9.1FirePro 8.543
3dsmax-04 (3D Studio Max)23.3544.23
Proe-04 (Pro/Engineer)13.8245.39
SW-01 (Solidworks)30.75103.33
Tcvis-01 (UGS Teamcenter Visualization)8.1537.78
Ugnx-01 (UGS NX)16.6456.93

As you can clearly see, the ATI driver programmers have done an amazing job. The two models' hardware is 99% identical, and yet the FirePro adapter completely outclasses the cheaper Radeon gaming card. The most extreme case in point is Maya, where the FirePro V8700 is six times faster than the Radeon HD 4870.

We also decided to investigate if there were visible differences in picture quality between the two models. On a basic Windows desktop we discovered no discrepancies, but as soon as you load a professional graphics application such as Maya or 3ds Max and import a complex 3D model, things change completely. When using the Radeon, you simply have to accept that wire frames will peek out of shaded surfaces all over the place, and that significant clipping occurs as numerous objects are viewed or animated. These phenomena simply don't occur when using the FirePro. Bottom line: those who seek to be frugal with expensive workstation applications should not fall prey to false economies.

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