Conclusion - Shader Model 4.0 Means A Leap Ahead For The Workstation Segment
The transition to workstation graphics cards with support for shader model 4.0 goes hand in hand with a performance leap. Thus, ATI's and Nvidia's previous generation of cards are ready to be put on the shelf. You should only buy one of these models if you can find it at a steep discount, and if its performance is sufficient for your needs.
Currently, Nvidia's Quadro FX 4600 Compare Prices on Nvidia Quadro FX 4600 offers very balanced performance, both in synthetic and real-world benchmarks. This is due to the very mature ForceWare driver release 162.62. Still, the card does not take the lead across the board. Also, the street price of €1650 is too high, considering how well ATI's competing product performs.
ATI's FireGL V7600 is entering the market with very aggressive pricing Compare Prices on ATI FireGL V7600, aiming to sell its card at $1000 (before taxes). Although the pricing for Europe had not been finalized at press time, that would translate to roughly €850 including tax (at the current exchange rate). And therein lies Nvidia's problem - the V7600 displayed very good performance potential in all synthetic Viewperf benchmarks in our tests. In Maya 6.5, Nvidia is left in the dust, while the competitors are tied for the lead in 3D Studio Max. The only benchmark that ATI has to concede to Nvidia is Solidworks, and in our opinion, that will change once ATI's drivers mature some more.
As a result of its very good value for the money, ATI's FireGL V7600 gets our editors choice recommendation. The R600 chip with shader model 4.0 brings a performance leap to the workstation arena. Meanwhile, the Nvidia's G80-based chips also have a lot to offer. However, Nvidia should reconsider its pricing strategy - only then will the company become competitive again.
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