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Nvidia Quadro FX 4800: Workstation Graphics At Its Finest?


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 ModelDerivative GPUFabMainstream-EquivalentGraphics RAM3-Pin StereoDisplayPort
Nvidia Quadro FX 5600G8090 nmGeForce 88001,536 MB GDDR3yesno
Nvidia Quadro FX 4800GT20065  nmGeForce GTX 260 (280)1,536 MB GDDR3yesyes
Nvidia Quadro FX 4600G8090 nmGeForce 8800768 MB GDDR3yesno
Nvidia Quadro FX 1700G8480 nmGeForce 8600512 MB DDR2yesno
ATI FirePro V8700RV77055 nmRadeon HD 48701,024 MB GDDR5yesyes
ATI FireGL V7700RV67055 nmRadeon HD 3850512 MB GDDR4yesyes
ATI FireGL V5600RV63065 nmRadeon HD 2600 XT512 MB GDDR4nono
ATI FireGL V3600RV63065 nmRadeon HD 2600 Pro256 MB DDR2nono
Workstation ModelMemory (RAM) BandwidthDirectXOpenGLShader ModelCore ClockMemory ClockPixel & Vertex Processing
Nvidia Quadro FX 560076.8 GB/s102.14.0600 MHz800 MHz112 SPUs
Nvidia Quadro FX 480076.8 GB/s103.04.0600 MHz800 MHz192 SPUs
Nvidia Quadro FX 460067.2 GB/s102.14.0500 MHz700 MHz112 SPUs
Nvidia Quadro FX 170012.8 GB/s102.14.0460 MHz400 MHz32 SPUs
ATI FirePro V8700115.2 GB/s10.12.14.0750 MHz900 MHz800 SPUs
ATI FireGL V770072.0 GB/s10.12.14.0775 MHz1,125 MHz320 SPUs
ATI FireGL V560035.1 GB/s102.14.0800 MHz1,100 MHz120 SPUs
ATI FireGL V360015.8 GB/s102.14.0600 MHz500 MHz120 SPUs