Our readers have asked us to compare expensive workstation graphics cards to much less expensive consumer graphics cards in DirectX-based and gaming-oriented applications. So, we tested the GCN and Fermi architectures (since the workstation-oriented Kepler-based cards aren't available yet).
The GCN-based workstation cards dominate 3DMark11. This isn’t altogether too surprising, since their clocks are a bit higher. AMD's and Nvidia's consumer cards do manage to beat the Quadro boards, which is likely a result of hardware and drivers.
AMD’s FirePro W-series cards dominate Unigine Heaven as well. Interestingly, the numbers generated under DirectX 11 and OpenGL fall very close together, with DirectX 11 yielding slightly higher overall frame rates and OpenGL producing slightly higher minimum frame rates.
During our Unigine benchmark, the Quadro 5000 exhibited what we first thought was a thermally-triggered shutdown. Even after we let it cool off, the card wouldn’t come on again, and the benchmark system’s PSU immediately shut down after starting the computer when it was installed. Consequently, the remaining benchmarks don't include the Quadro 5000, which isn’t too much of a problem, since we're almost done testing at this point anyway. It’s not a good sign that an expensive card like the Quadro 5000 shows this kind of major defect after only 10 hours of operation in an open case, though.
The Aliens vs. Predator benchmark looked similar to the previous ones, so we decided to give Crysis 2 a go. AMD’s FirePro W-series cards do well in this test. The consumer cards do manage to inch out the workstation boards in our second benchmark, but we like the FirePro W-series' output quality better. Using a $4000 card like this feels a little decadent, but it sure is fun!