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