Professional Application Results
Our German team developed a “crossover” workstation in cooperation with the company Happyware in Hamburg. Since it's designed to represent actual workstation hardware, we're using workstation components. The CPU is a stock 3.7GHz Intel Xeon E3-1280 v5, which is the fastest Skylake-based workstation processor.
|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 15.201.2401 Quadro ODE 362.56 WHQL (ODE Drivers) GeForce 368.13 (Press Drivers)|
Many of the professional applications we test require certified hardware and drivers, as well as workstation-class graphics cards. Then again, a growing number of companies, including Autodesk, have switched from OpenGL to DirectX. This means that there are some workstation-class apps you can run on desktop-oriented components for a lot less money. The following results provide a good overview of where this kind of setup can be expected to work, and what it looks like when it doesn’t.
AutoCAD 3D Performance
We’re focusing exclusively on AutoCAD’s 3D performance, since its 2D component is affected by host processing, rather than GPU capabilities. As usual, we’re using the Cadalyst benchmark and AutoCAD 2015.
Nvidia's GeForce GTX 1080 manages to beat the Quadro M6000 by approximately 2.5 percent. The true workstation card has the same GPU as a GeForce GTX Titan X, and it only operates 10MHz lower than the desktop version at its thermal limit. Then again, most cards finish fairly close to each other in this test since Intel's 3.7GHz Skylake-based CPU bottlenecks performance.
The current version of SPECviewperf 12 includes an assortment of common business applications with fitting workloads. Its Maya test illustrates what happens when the GeForce GTX 1080 isn’t held back by some other platform component. A 44 percent advantage over the Quadro M6000 should translate to a similar advantage over GeForce GTX Titan X. The rest of the competition can’t keep up.
Showcase is another DirectX-based application. And while the GeForce GTX 1080’s advantage over Nvidia's Quadro M6000 (and, by extension, its GeForce GTX Titan X) isn’t as pronounced, a 22 percent advantage is nothing to dismiss. Its lead over the GeForce GTX 980 is a massive 40 percent, and that's in the face of a CPU bottleneck.
In contrast to what we've seen thus far, this application doesn't run well on gaming-oriented hardware. The GeForce GTX 1080’s performance isn’t horrible, but driver optimizations specific to the professional cards are plain to see this time around.
Catia V6 R2012
The same goes for Catia, which puts desktop graphics cards at a huge disadvantage. Still, Nvidia's GeForce GTX 1080 performs well enough when price is a consideration.
The performance story takes another turn for the worse in SolidWorks 2013. Apart from the usual segmentation of professional and desktop graphics cards, SolidWorks specifically likes Quadro cards and crushes GeForces. At least AMD's drivers allow the Radeon cards to do a little bit of professional work; Nvidia's mercilessly stop this benchmark in its tracks. That's when buying a workstation graphics card for professional applications makes sense.