There is a reason for Nvidia’s domination on the market of professional graphics cards. As we have made sure in our today’s tests, this manufacturer can adapt its graphics architectures well to the needs of 3D CAD/CAM application users. By optimizing both the graphics hardware and the driver, Nvidia offers a well-balanced series of professional cards that provide different levels of performance for different money.
AMD doesn’t have such a comprehensive strategy as yet. We couldn’t get the midrange FirePro W5000 model, but the FirePro W7000 and W8000 leave us rather perplexed. Their prices differ by almost 100%, yet they often show similar results in real-life professional applications. So, the FirePro W8000, which is supposed to compete with the Quadro K5000 according to its pricing, fails to do so. The FirePro W7000, on the contrary, is often faster than the comparably priced Quadro K4000, which makes the AMD product preferable as a midrange professional graphics card, especially for such applications as Creo, NX or Solidworks. If you want higher performance and choose from top-end products, the Quadro K5000 will be the best choice almost everywhere. The FirePro W8000 should only be considered for specific situations, for example for processing complex models in 3ds Max and NX.
Of course, AMD should be given credit for trying to improve its standing on the professional graphics card market. The company seems to be going in the right direction. The transition of the FirePro series to the GCN architecture and the close collaboration with developers of professional applications are highly positive trends. However, it is going to take more effort on AMD’s part to promote its FirePro products for graphics workstations of various levels. The overall OpenGL optimization of AMD’s professional graphics driver is far from perfect yet as we could see in our synthetic benchmarks. Moreover, AMD pays little attention to the heat dissipation and power consumption of its cards, so the FirePro series are inferior to their Quadro opponents in this respect.
One more advantage of Nvidia’s strategy is that the company’s model range includes inexpensive professional cards based on the modern Kepler architecture. They support all the latest graphics technologies. While AMD offers marked-down graphics cards of previous generations in the low price segment, Nvidia releases completely new solutions like the Quadro K2000 or Quadro K600 which offer a highly attractive price/performance ratio.
Summing everything up, we should say that Nvidia’s Quadro series of the 2013 model year, which features the modern Kepler architecture, remains the preferable choice for professional graphics workstations. The FirePro W series that AMD wants to improve its market standing with is only good in the middle price segment. We mean the FirePro W7000 model specifically. This graphics card offers high performance at an average price and looks good in a number of CAD/CAM applications, making it a worthy alternative to the Quadro K4000. It is clear, however, that one graphics card model is not enough for a good fight for the whole market.