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Solidworks 2013

SolidWorks is a highly popular CAD application. The new SPEC benchmark for this application can use a lot of features offered by modern graphics hardware. Its medium-complexity models take up to 1 gigabyte of graphics memory.

Like most other benchmarks, Solidworks 2013 puts the Quadro K5000 on top but the competing solutions from AMD perform well enough, especially considering their lower price. The FirePro W7000 is particularly good as it offers the same performance as the W8000 is quite a lot of tests. The difference between the W8000 and W7000 is only 3% in Solidworks, for example, but the senior model is twice as expensive, which makes the FirePro W7000 a highly interesting option, preferable to the Quadro K4000, which costs about the same money but is slower.

We can see the same standings in Solidworks irrespective of the model visualization mode.

There is only one exception. Turning off the Realview option lowers the load on the shader domain, so the FirePro series lose their ground. However, working in Solidworks without Realview is hardly interesting for owners of professional graphics cards because this visualization mode, unavailable on gaming cards, is the main reason for Solidworks users to switch to professional products.

Futuremark 3DMark

Although professional graphics cards are almost never used for gaming, we still want to run the popular gaming benchmark Futuremark 3DMark Fire Strike to take a look at our graphics cards from a different angle.

Gaming is different from professional applications, as you can see. AMD cards are superior in 3D gaming performance to comparably priced Nvidia solutions but, as we've seen above, this is not true for professional applications. A graphics card’s hardware resources, especially its shader domain, are not the main factor that determines its performance in professional CAD/CAM applications. Driver optimizations and balanced specs are far more important. And, as you can see, Nvidia dominates the market of professional graphics cards by just being better than AMD at adapting its graphics architectures to CAD/CAM software.

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