Nvidia's gaming graphics cards have been slowly moving away from the old-faithful G80 chip. Now, in fact, Nvidia's latest workstation offerings are outfitted with derivatives of Nvidia's GT200 GPUs, which many have come to know through their inclusion in the cheaper mainstream GeForce GTX 260 and 280 cards.
The first entrants in this product line are the Quadro FX 5800 at the extreme high-end, with its 4 GB frame buffer, and the more "reasonably priced" Quadro FX 4800, with its 1.5 GB of graphics memory. That latter board found its way into our test labs, so that we could put it through its paces. In a few weeks, we expect to get our hands on other models in this series as well.
The FX 4800 commands a price premium of over $300 compared to the equivalent FirePro V8700 from AMD's ATI division, which online resellers retail for about $1,250. Can buyers expect a boost in features and performance for this extra outlay? First, let's take a look at the comparable cards and their speeds and feeds from both companies in the tables that follow, then we'll get around to answering this burning question.
|Workstation Graphics Cards and their Mainstream Equivalents|
|Workstation Model||Derivative GPU||Fab||Mainstream-Equivalent||Graphics RAM||3-Pin Stereo||DisplayPort|
|Nvidia Quadro FX 5600||G80||90 nm||GeForce 8800||1,536 MB GDDR3||yes||no|
|Nvidia Quadro FX 4800||GT200||65 nm||GeForce GTX 260 (280)||1,536 MB GDDR3||yes||yes|
|Nvidia Quadro FX 4600||G80||90 nm||GeForce 8800||768 MB GDDR3||yes||no|
|Nvidia Quadro FX 1700||G84||80 nm||GeForce 8600||512 MB DDR2||yes||no|
|ATI FirePro V8700||RV770||55 nm||Radeon HD 4870||1,024 MB GDDR5||yes||yes|
|ATI FireGL V7700||RV670||55 nm||Radeon HD 3850||512 MB GDDR4||yes||yes|
|ATI FireGL V5600||RV630||65 nm||Radeon HD 2600 XT||512 MB GDDR4||no||no|
|ATI FireGL V3600||RV630||65 nm||Radeon HD 2600 Pro||256 MB DDR2||no||no|
|Workstation Model||Memory (RAM) Bandwidth||DirectX||OpenGL||Shader Model||Core Clock||Memory Clock||Pixel & Vertex Processing|
|Nvidia Quadro FX 5600||76.8 GB/s||10||2.1||4.0||600 MHz||800 MHz||112 SPUs|
|Nvidia Quadro FX 4800||76.8 GB/s||10||3.0||4.0||600 MHz||800 MHz||192 SPUs|
|Nvidia Quadro FX 4600||67.2 GB/s||10||2.1||4.0||500 MHz||700 MHz||112 SPUs|
|Nvidia Quadro FX 1700||12.8 GB/s||10||2.1||4.0||460 MHz||400 MHz||32 SPUs|
|ATI FirePro V8700||115.2 GB/s||10.1||2.1||4.0||750 MHz||900 MHz||800 SPUs|
|ATI FireGL V7700||72.0 GB/s||10.1||2.1||4.0||775 MHz||1,125 MHz||320 SPUs|
|ATI FireGL V5600||35.1 GB/s||10||2.1||4.0||800 MHz||1,100 MHz||120 SPUs|
|ATI FireGL V3600||15.8 GB/s||10||2.1||4.0||600 MHz||500 MHz||120 SPUs|