It's time to explore performance using a number of real-world applications and just a handful of synthetics. Our suite chews up nearly 11 hours per card, since we run each test three times. So we limited the field to AMD's Radeon Pro WX 7100, its direct competition, the Quadro M4000, and two previous-gen FirePro cards.
While we've added desktop-class cards in the past, we're not doing that today. If you run software that requires a certified graphics driver, you won't get very far with a Radeon or GeForce since many functions become unavailable. One example is SolidWorks 2016, which we tested both with and without FSAA in the SPECapc workload:
Whether you use anti-aliasing or not, the differences between a Radeon Pro WX 7100 and Quadro M4000 are small. They're mostly apparent in the details, so we're listing all of the sub-scores.
In Creo 3.0, the Quadro M4000’s dismal results become apparent from a look at the Graphics Composite score.
Drilling down to the sub-scores further illuminates Nvidia's trouble areas. This wasn't always the case. Last summer we spent a bunch of time working with AMD to diagnose a problem in Creo 3.0 (starting from version M90, it ran unstably on then-current FirePro cards). Since then, the driver fixed that issue and then some, clearly.
The Application Workflows metric reveals where Nvidia competes (geometry processing) and where it's out-classed (shading/compute performance). Further optimizations appear unnecessary; AMD is successfully exposing its theoretical advantage in this real-world benchmark.
Autodesk's AutoCAD employs DirectX 11 for its graphical interface, and relies heavily on host processing for its calculations. Not surprisingly, the 2D output is more CPU-limited than GPU-constrained. Only the older FirePro W7100 is a bit slower in the 3D test.
As an aside, desktop-class cards would work fine here so long as you don't need the application's special features.
Cinebench is a synthetic benchmark that shines a spotlight on OpenGL-based performance. The Radeon Pro WX 7100 wins of course, but it's always amazing to see the performance Nvidia can extract from its weaker Quadro M4000. This is especially true compared to the previous-gen FirePro W7100 and 7000.
Since we’re often asked whether a professional graphics card is needed for Adobe's Creative Cloud, we're also including a score from PCMark 8. Aside from a handful of hardware-accelerated filters or plug-ins, the answer is almost certainly no, since these numbers reflect a host processing bottleneck that keeps all four contenders close to each other.
This relative balance is reflected in the individual application results, which compose the overall score.
SPECviewperf 12 is based on real-world tasks, but it's somewhat synthetic because uncertainties and unpredictable workloads are excluded. AMD and Nvidia each spend a lot of time optimizing their drivers for it, so we're always skeptical of the tool's results.
It looks like AMD's driver team put plenty of work into optimizing ahead of the Radeon Pro WX 7100's launch, at least according to our real-world and synthetic benchmark choices. Not only did they act upon our feedback in Creo 3.0, but they also solved more recent issues with SolidWorks and FSAA. These issues are now in the past.