Workstation Shootout: Nvidia Quadro 5000 Vs. ATI FirePro V8800


The first half of this year felt like Nvidia was taking a time-out or a nap, leaving both its third-party board vendors and customers impatient (BFG, of course, paid the ultimate price). It seemed the company was content to keep creatively renaming its desktop graphics chips, and thus sticking with its then-current portfolio.

Meanwhile, AMD launched its entire line of DirectX 11-compatible Radeon HD 5000-series cards, literally from top to bottom.

Finally, after several delays, Nvidia brought its own DirectX 11 GPU to market, officially called GF100 and based on the Fermi architecture.

The first cards to employ the new design were called the GeForce GTX 480, GeForce GTX 470, and GeForce GTX 465, and all of them were aimed at the gaming enthusiast. Now, Nvidia is introducing a workstation-class card belonging to the Quadro line. Again, AMD enjoys a bit of a lead here as well, having already updated its FirePro line of professional graphics cards in late spring.

That sets the stage for today’s comparison in which we will pit Nvidia’s new Quadro 5000 against AMD's flagship ATI FirePro V8800, comparing both cards to previous-generation parts as well. Since some of our readers may not be familiar with workstation graphics, allow us to provide a frame of reference by comparing them to their mainstream gaming brethren.

The Quadro 5000 is based on Nvidias GF100 GPU and contains 352 shader cores, making it more or less a twin of the GeForce GTX 465. The main differences between the two relate to the memory subsystem and the clock frequencies. AMD's FirePro V8800 is built around the company's Cypress XT (RV870), the same GPU powering its Radeon HD 5870.

So, going into this comparison, what should our expectations be? Comparisons between the gaming versions of these cards show them going head-to-head in many cases, with AMD taking the lead in some cases and Nvidia in others, depending on the game, benchmark, and settings. In the past, this sort of pattern has translated quite well into the workstation world. Will this hold true here as well, or will we see a clear winner emerge?

When it unveiled its Fermi architecture, Nvidia repeatedly stressed that this design was not developed expressly for the gaming market. Instead, the company strove to create a design that could also target the workstation segment, as well as HPC markets. Today‘s test will also show whether Nvidia achieves this goal.

Before we dive into the benchmarks, we’ll take a closer look at the contenders, sizing up Nvidia’s Quadro 5000 and the ATI FirePro V8800. We’ll also consider their respective fields.

Uwe Scheffel
  • Randomacts
    That graphics card cost more then both of the computers I own. O.o
  • tacoslave
    if amd put a little more work on their drivers (i.e crossfire and firepro performance)they would be the clear performance champion.
  • Gin Fushicho
    I really wish I knew what these numbers meant.

    For someone who doesn't do 3-D design these benchmarks are kinda confusing.
  • TheStealthyOne
    The cooler for the FirePro card is really attractive imo.
  • joytech22
    You need to remember, Fermi is designed not "Just" for games, but was also designed, from day one, with computing in mind as well.
  • darthvidor
    I'm impressed to find nvidia beating amd in power consumption.
  • reprotected
    Why isn't the Quadro 6000 and the FX 5800 in the benchmarks?
  • SchizoFrog
    Once again the arguement regarding AMD Drivers is brought to the fore. But more than this, when AMD has a line of products that could be said to 'miss' they absolutely FAIL. nVidia on the otherhand seem to have learned their lesson well from the 5xxxFX series and can still produce products that can compete at least at some level, ie: GTX460. Although these are Workstation products, nVidia have a complete package with GPUs and Drivers that work from the off.
  • scrumworks
    I'm sure you'll be hearing from AMD pretty soon publishing those kind of results.
  • davefb
    sort of interesting, but why is there no comparison to mainstream boards? There is a massive premium of cost here but nothing to be able to say 'hey boss, the onboard graphics we use really don't cut it any more, how about a quadro'.
    (or have I sped-read past the reason why ;) )