ATI FireGL V8600 1GB Workstation Graphics

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While the FireGL V8600 is likely the last of the R600-based cards to be released for their current generation workstation lineup, its presence is still greatly appreciated. The FireGL V8600 gives more or less identical performance to that of ATI’s top of the line FireGL V8650 card, but at a much more attractive price point. As the V8600 and V8560 are identical, with the only difference being memory size, the similar performance levels are not incredibly surprising. While we ran into a few tests which showed a performance advantage with the FireGL V8650’s 2 GB memory, in most cases, our FireGL V8600 1 GB and FireGL V8650 2 GB cards typically were within 1-2% of each other in the benchmarks. Considering the FireGL V8600 is 33% less expensive, we’d say that it offers a much better price/performance ratio compared to the high-end V8650 card.

While the newly launched FireGL V8600 shares a similar MSRP to NVIDIA’s new QuadroFX 3700 card ($1,899 for V8600 vs. $1,599 for the 3700), a quick check online shows that the QuadroFX 3700 has dropped substantially thus far, while the V8600 has only dropped by a small amount. At the time of this writing, it’s about $600 less expensive to pick up a QuadroFX 3700 card compared to a FireGL V8600, which makes the FireGL V8600 a tough sell if you look at the benchmarks. While there are some places where ATI’s R600 architecture can dominate Nvidia’s G92 architecture (Maya, UGNX), in the majority of our benchmarks, performance between the FireGL V8600 and QuadroFX 3700 is remarkably close. Considering the street price differences between these cards and that the QuadroFX 3700 runs significantly cooler, quieter, and consumes less power, the FireGL V8600 is a tough card to recommend right now. A few months ago, our outlook would have been different, but Nvidia has definitely tightened the race lately.

The FireGL V8600 does have its advantages, though. If you need a large frame-buffer, the V8600 has double the onboard memory of the QuadroFX 3700, which can come in quite valuable depending on your application load. The card also supports Genlock/Framelock, which the FX3700 simply doesn't support.
The FireGL V8600 has a lot of raw shader horsepower and memory bandwidth under the hood, and is backed up by a big frame buffer and a substantial cooling system. However, the card consumes quite a lot of power, is louder than its competition, and is quite a bit more expensive at this time. If you’re a Maya user or need a card with a big frame buffer, the FireGL V8600 is certainly a suitable option, although we feel for most workstation users, the less expensive QuadroFX 3700 card will provide a better overall experience. However, if you happened to be looking at picking up a FireGL V8650 2 GB card, you might want to think twice and opt for the less expensive V8600 1 GB card instead.

  • Improved Price/Performance Ratio Compared To Other R600 FireGL Cards
  • Massive Memory Bandwidth
  • Lots of Shader Processing Power
  • Heat, Power Consumption, Noise
  • Price/Performance vs. QuadroFX 3700
  • Huge PCB May Be Troublesome For Some Cases

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