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Workstation Graphics: 14 FirePro And Quadro Cards

SolidWorks 2013: Results Overview

Drivers Used

When we get to SolidWorks, our driver situation improves. AMD recently put a lot of effort into fixing up its software, and it shows. Nvidia certified its 311.50 driver package before we started our testing (though again, it now has a newer 320.49 ODE build available), and that bolstered its SolidWorks performance by a massive 120 percent compared to the 310.90 version, vaporizing AMD’s marketing materials in the process. Consequently, what we're showing is quite a bit different from what AMD advertises in this test.

DriverNvidiaAMD
Workstation311.50 (Certified)Catalyst Pro 9.003.3.3 (Certified)
GamingNot SupportedNot Supported

SolidWorks 2013: Composite Score

SolidWorks 2013 is limited to workstation-class graphics cards. Unfortunately, the drivers we're using won't install on gaming boards, so we cannot include them. Additionally, if the software is run with non-certified drivers, there's supposed to be a quantifiable performance hit. The only exception is the version used by SPECapc 2013, which supposedly allows full use of SolidWorks 2013 whether the driver you're running is certified or not. We didn't bother testing, but rather used the certified drivers for this story.

First, we'll have a look at the graphics composite that both AMD and Nvidia like to use in their marketing materials.

AMD’s FirePro W7000 manages to inch out its direct competition from Nvidia, the Quadro 4000 and K4000, in spite of Nvidia’s newer drivers. The Quadro 2000 loses big against the entry-level AMD FirePro W5000. Strangely, though, the FirePro W9000 is beaten by Nvidia's older Quadro 6000, and not by a small margin. Nvidia's high-end card holds onto its crown in this benchmark. 

Keep price and usage in mind when you look at the benchmark results, though. AMD's FirePro W9000 and W8000 aren’t simple polygon-pushers. They're designed for general-purpose computing. At the same time, Nvidia's Quadro 6000 is going to be more appropriate in the design department at a large company like BMW than in an engineer’s home office.