AMD ATI FirePro Round-up: V7800, V4800, V3800 - HotHardware

AMD ATI FirePro Round-up: V7800, V4800, V3800

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It's true that high-end workstation graphics cards may be based on the same core architectures as gaming-targeted graphics cards, however, their purposes are very different. While they both accomplish the same task, processing commands and rendering images on-screen, workstation cards endure a more strenuous existence than their gaming counterparts. Workstation cards are used to solve huge, mission-critical problems, like helping engineers design and build cars; helping architects to plan and construct buildings, and even help oil and gas companies to provide more effective production and transportation methods.



 
FirePro V7800

ATI labels the V7800 as the "most powerful single slot workstation graphics card" on the market. One thing we can say for sure is the V7800 is a very long card. At over 11 inches, it is the longest FirePro card on the market. The card makes use of a Cypress GPU with 1440 stream processors. Additionally, it provides the same 2GB of GDDR5 memory as the V8800, with a sizable 128 GB/s of memory bandwidth.

It supports up to three displays and features two DisplayPort jacks with one DVI connection. Like the V8800, it provides a Framelock/Genlock connection, as well as CrossFire capability. The V7800 is rated at 138W and requires a single 6-pin PCI Express power cable. 



 
FirePro V4800

The entry level V4800 sports the Redwood XT GPU with 400 stream processors, 1GB GDDR5 memory, and 57.6GB/s of memory bandwidth. It can drive up to three 30" monitors through two DP outpus and one DVI port. Unlike the V7800, this card does not require additional power from the PSU and lacks a PCI Express power connector. Maximum board power is 69W and will consume a fraction of that during idle.




 
FirePro V3800

If size is a consideration, the V3800 should be able to fit in any system. This small form factor card is an entry level solution for workstation environments that supports two displays. It makes use of the Redwood Pro GPU with 400 stream processors, pared to 512 MB of DDR3 memory, offering 14.4 GB/s of bandwidth, and uses only 43W of power. Just under seven inches in length, the V3800 offers a DisplayPort connection and a DVI port for connectivity.


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Good Review!
 
This review came out the same day that I received a reply from AMD towards my concerns on their marketing of these new cards. Lets just say it was very disingenuous!
 
These are good workstation cards. The question you must ask yourself is what is the primary tasks you require of these GPU's? Since Hot Hardware has given you a good overview of the performance of each card when coupled with the V8800 review. I will tend to address a few of the more work related issues compared to cost effectiveness.

When looking at your budget and system build. that will determine which card will meet your requirements. If you are looking for a workstation card for primarily Photoshop or Painter. Then  the V3800 and V4800 will more than suffice. Yet if you are going to professionally output images to 600dpi for print purposes, I would suggest minimum the V4800. If you are going to use these mainly for video editing or Graphic production then having the V4800 or V7800 will fit nicely, depending on your budget.
If 3D is going to be the primary use, then the entire system comes into question.  Any of these cards are going to give you a significant boost in performance. Even over the last generation of cards from both ATI and Nvidia. The first issue is that this is the generation of cards that uses Direct X11. Since 3D Max relies on this as its primary driver, having the latest version is always a plus. Yet, Max also relies upon a good processor and lots of RAM! So if Max is going to be your primary platform, then you need to adjust your budget accordingly. If you have an unlimited budget? Then yes, go for two V8800's in crossfire mode with 128GB RAM and two Xenon six cores! Within Maya these cards really fly. So it comes down to what the quality of rendering you are aiming for. Of course it is always good to have the ability to render out ultra realistic images with HDRI images.
Beyond these cards having twice the performance of their predecessors, it is the processors driver ability that make them essential is you want them to be useful from this day on.  If ATI sticks with their usual release schedule, then I am sure we will be seeing what will be the Fire Pro V8850 before the end of the year. But they probably wont release it until they feel they have all the sales they can get from this current lineup. Or until the day after you receive one of these!The V8850 will most likely be a 4GB card with the same specifications as the V8800 and might even be twice the price. This will probably be their answer to the Nvidia Quadro 5800, and be close to the same price. After AMD's response to my concerns, I look back and think I should have gone with Nvidia at twice the price, at least then I would have known that they would not release a similar card at half the price, only a few weeks later.
Any DCC concerns will be answered with dedicated workstation cards such as these. The performance increase will be instantly noticeable. Just within Photoshop an painter, I have noticed that the Wacom operates more like a real brush and your brush strokes are more natural in speed and creation. For 3D, the final render times have gone from hours down to minutes. Which will ultimately save you months of final production times! If Budget is a main concern like it was for me. then in conclusion, the FirePro V7800 is the one to get. That way you can get another later and crossfire them to get 4GBs, which will end in a similar setup, if you were to wait for the V8850, at roughly the same price. The only difference is in the stream processors. So unless you are doing scientific modeling that requires high computational accuracy or advanced particle effects, save yourself that six hundred dollars. With that you can upgrade your CPU and RAM, so the entire system can demonstrate the full capabilities of a good dedicated workstation card.

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