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

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

3 thumbs up

Performance Summary:  With ATI's latest workstation driver that claimed to improve upon Cinebench performance, we tested each card in this round up and re-tested the two previous FirePro products we had already reviewed. Now that we have our data, let's analyze the numbers. Certainly, the testing has produced some interesting results. On average, the V7800 consistently performed within 11% of the V8800 in both synthetic and real world benchmarks. That point alone is impressive to us, especially when you look at the cost of each card ($799 vs $1499). But it also finished ahead of the V8750 in 8 of the 11 benchmarks we ran, trumping last year's flagship model and making it a legitimate high end workstation graphics card. Our SANDRA GPGPU testing put the V7800 ahead of the older V8750 by 65% in Compute Shader results and 40% for Stream processing performance. In many ways, the V7800 delivered and workstation professionals should take note of what ATI was able to do with a single slot cooling solution.

With that in mind, we expected to compare the two entry level cards to one another, but the results pushed us in a different direction. Why? Because the V4800 outperformed expectations during our real world testing. This affordable GPU did not perform like an entry level product. Looking at our SPECviewperf scores, the V4800 came within roughly 6% of the performance displayed by the V7800. On the other hand, our synthetic OpenGL and GPGPU benchmarks told a different story. Cinebench showed the V7800 to be almost twice as fast as the V4800, while SANDRA scored it over three times faster.

So which set of testing is more accurate? The truth lies somewhere in the middle. the V4800, with its more limited GPU, is not likely to perform as closely to the V7800 with demanding workloads as the SPECViewperf scores suggest. And since our real world numbers don't correlate with the performance deviation shown in synthetic testing, we're inclined to believe SPECviewperf isn't giving us the complete picture in this particular case. Although its the industry testing standard metric for workstation graphics, in the world of benchmarks, SPECviewperf is getting a bit long in the tooth. It was released over three years ago, during May 2007, and could use an update soon.     


We mentioned in our last FirePro review that if you found the V8800's asking price of $1499 too steep, that more affordable models were on their way, and here they are. As a high end card, the V7800 fits in nicely at $799 if you are looking to upgrade at this performance level. With its release, there is really no reason to pick up last year's V8750, which still retails for over $1000. We expect to see the V8750's price come down even lower, now that the V7800 is out. Also, our benchmarks revealed the V4800 is a strong performer for a card that can be had under $200. If your budget is tight, and want an affordable workstation videocard, you can't go wrong with the V4800 at that price. And although the V3800 did not provide eye opening performance, its small form factor makes it a relevant option for anyone looking for that feature.

Within the workstation and professional graphics world, ATI is currently dominating the scene. They are providing consumers with a full product line of FirePro cards that span the entire performance spectrum, with prices ranging from $109 all the way up to $1499. Much like the desktop market, ATI is months ahead of NVIDIA in getting products launched and available for purchase. Of course, we fully expect Quadro FX parts to hit the scene sooner rather than later, especially with mobile versions of Fermi, like the GTX 480M, making an appearance. Until then, if your work requires a current generation professional graphics card for 3D animation and CAD rendering workloads, and you can't wait for NVIDIA to provide an alternative, the ATI FirePro series has what you need, right now.

ATI FirePro V4800 Professional Graphics Card

  • Great bang for your buck
  • Low power consumption
  • DirectX 11 and Eyefinity support
  • Cool and quiet
  • Limited to three display outputs


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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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