Skip to main content

AMD FirePro W8000 And W9000 Review: GCN Goes Pro

AMD FirePro W8000: A Bargain At $1600?

We’ve been waiting for AMD’s FirePro W-series cards for a long time. The first GCN-based desktop boards debuted in November of last year, after all.

Two factors contributed to the delay. First, AMD was undoubtedly constrained on the number of 28 nm wafer to which it had access. The manufacturing process has matured over time, though, allowing the company to offer cards at higher clock speeds without compromising long-term reliability. Second, its drivers needed to be optimized for a variety of applications and environments. On a brand new architecture, in particular, this takes a while.

Then again, we don’t necessarily think that AMD's supporting software is as well-tuned as it could be in a number of different scenarios we tested. So, we recommend that you do some research into what you'll be doing with these cards before buying one of them. If the FirePro W-series turns out to be well-suited for your needs, you’ll get good 2D performance that matches AMD’s older cards, as well as better 3D and GPGPU (OpenCL) performance.

A direct comparison between AMD’s FirePro W-series and Nvidia’s Quadro family is difficult. One somehow manages to shine when the other runs into major problems. The tasks these cards are built to perform are varied and complex, leaving us to look at benchmarks for specific tasks, which keep us from generalizing about performance overall.

TSMC's 28 nm process technology, AMD's GCN architecture, and the hardware-accelerated features yet to be enabled by ISVs are all very promising. However, AMD's drivers don't necessarily seem mature enough to gauge what these cards will do in the weeks and months to follow. But potential is there, and once AMD’s software team is done closing some of the gaps seen in today's testing, the new FirePro cards could become well-priced alternatives to Nvidia's more established Quadro line-up. We’re also looking forward to the lower-end offerings in AMD’s FirePro W-series, and we’ll try to get our hands on them as soon as they're available.

Purchase Recommendation

As far as recommendations go, we'll limit ourselves to AMD's FirePro family for comparison purposes. Putting AMD up against Nvidia at this stage is simply too difficult. What we do know is that, on the desktop, the fastest GCN-based cards are easily faster than the fastest Fermi-based boards. And, fully-optimized, we'd expect these high-end FirePro W-series cards to maintain that lead.

So, it's not difficult to give the FirePro W8000 a thumbs-up based on its price to performance ratio. The W8000 costs a lot less, operates more efficiently (and quietly), and performs almost as well as AMD's FirePro W9000. Yes, it's a little strange to give a $1600 graphics card a value-oriented recommendation knowing that most folks have no need for such an expensive piece of hardware. However, for the professional users who can't compromise on points like validation, performance, or support, $1600 can quickly pay for itself in recovered productivity.

If you don’t need the FirePro W9000's extra performance, AMD's FirePro W8000 should make a great long-term workhorse in your workstation. The company has already taken strides in catching its competition, and we expect it to continue chipping away at its deficit. What remains to be seen is how Nvidia's Kepler-based Quadro cards compare.

  • mayankleoboy1
    Typical of AMD : releasing cards without proper drivers.
    I bet most professionals wont touch these cards until atleast 3-4 driver revisions. These cards are newer, and perform worse than competitions older.
    Reply
  • mayankleoboy1
    1.How does the CPU performance affect the benchmarks ? IOW, are these softwares enough offloaded on to the GPU, that changing the CPU to a much better Intel Xeons wont affect the performance much ?

    2. Also, how do the consumer cards perform on these pro softwares ?
    Reply
  • rdc85
    They are new architecture, it's kinda expected result. I can see there a room for improvement, but without the application that can take advantage of it, then it will useless..

    in the end I'm glad to see that AMD graphic section is trying to make an effort, not like the their proc section..
    Reply
  • My impression is that on average, Nvidia higher quality. IMHO of course
    Reply
  • bystander
    mayankleoboy1Typical of AMD : releasing cards without proper drivers.I bet most professionals wont touch these cards until atleast 3-4 driver revisions. These cards are newer, and perform worse than competitions older.Did you not read all the benchmarks? In many of the benchmarks it beat out Nvidia's offering by a lot, some were even, some were worse. And they are cheaper than the those Nvidia cards it would seem by the price offering of 4.2k for the Quadro 6000 right on the last page, compared to 4k for the W9000 and 1.6k for the W8000.

    So depending on what you use it for, it may very well be a great choice.
    Reply
  • Please note that dozens of software companies (all the most prevalent in DCC and CAD) have thoroughly tested and certified the drivers for the W8000 and W9000 cards. This means that users of these applications should not be concerned about driver stability or user experience.

    Yes, this is a brand new architecture and yes, performance improvements will continue to be made with subsequent driver optimizations.
    Reply
  • ohim
    Even though no one will prolly ever play games on a workstation, this are the first cards to have equal or superior gaming performance over the consumer cards also. Wonder if taking a HD 7970 and possibly mooding the bios for a FirePro one how will it impact the workstation benchmarks.
    Reply
  • rmpumper
    The review needs at least one gaming GPU as comparison.
    Reply
  • I always wondered how well these cards would do with games, anyone an idea? :)
    Reply
  • mayankleoboy1
    ohimEven though no one will prolly ever play games on a workstation, this are the first cards to have equal or superior gaming performance over the consumer cards also. Wonder if taking a HD 7970 and possibly mooding the bios for a FirePro one how will it impact the workstation benchmarks.
    AFAIK, its not possible now to BIOS mod a regular 7970 into a W9000. AMD and Nvidia have become smarter.
    Reply