Professional Application Results
Our German team developed a “crossover” workstation based on professional-class hardware. The CPU is a stock 3.7GHz Intel Xeon E3-1280 v5, which is the fastest Skylake-based Xeon E3. Because the system is fairly new, running recently-updated drivers, don't compare these results to numbers in our older stories.
As we know, many professional applications require certified hardware and workstation graphics cards. However, these days, companies like Autodesk use DirectX instead of OpenGL. This means that there are some workstation-class apps that run well on desktop graphics hardware for a lot less money. The following benchmarks provide a good overview of what works and what doesn’t.
|Tom's Hardware Crossover Workstation|
|Test System||Intel Xeon E3-1280 v5 at 3.7GHz 4x 4GB Kingston DDR4-2133 ECC Asus P10 WS 2x Samsung SM863 (3D V-NAND) Seagate Constellation Server HDD Windows 10 Enterprise (All Updates)|
|Drivers||Catalyst Pro 15.301.2601Crimson 16.6.2 (Beta, Press Drivers)Quadro ODE 368.39 WHQL (ODE Drivers)GeForce 368.39 WHQL|
AutoCAD 3D Performance
It’s interesting to see a lot of similar-looking results in this benchmark. AMD’s Radeon RX 480 ends up right behind the R9 390X, represented by MSI's factory-overclocked R9 390X Gaming 8G.
In any case, all of the cards in our chart are bottlenecked by the Skylake-based Xeon processor. This is due to AutoCAD’s dependence on host processing IPC and the fact that it doesn’t scale very well with additional cores.
From here on out, we're using the newest version of SPECviewperf12, a standard benchmark that includes a number of common professional applications and corresponding workloads. The current drivers provide some benefits to AMD cards, though the FirePro boards fare best. In contrast, all of Nvidia’s cards benefit.
Showcase 2013 is another DirectX title. The Radeon R9 390X enjoys a more substantial lead this time, and the GeForce GTX 970 ends up way ahead as well. It’s also notable that AMD's Radeon RX 480 loses to the FirePro W9100, which is just an R9 290X running at lower clock rates. At least the new card bests the FirePro W8100, the workstation version of AMD's R9 290.
This professional application usually doesn’t play well with consumer graphics cards. We decided to give it a try anyway. The results are as expected: AMD’s Radeon R9 390X and Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 980 lead the other desktop boards, while the GeForce GTX 970 gets left in the dust.
Catia V6 R2012
A similar picture emerges in our Catia benchmark, though AMD's desktop-class boards do outrun Nvidia's.
FirePro- and Quadro-specific driver optimizations massively affect the finishing order in our SolidWorks test. The GeForce boards in particular perform much worse than Nvidia's professional cards. Then again, why would anyone need to buy a professional graphics card if this wasn't the case?
Generally speaking, AMD’s Radeon RX 480 falls in line behind the R9 390X at roughly the performance level of a factory-overclocked R9 390. Nvidia's equivalent cards win some tests and lose others, depending on the application in question. We do really like the gains provided by AMD's new Catalyst Pro, which posts double-digit improvements over the older driver in some cases.
MORE: Best Graphics Cards