ATI FirePro V8700 Workstation Graphics Card

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The Board

The first thing we noticed about the FirePro V8700 when removing it from its box is how small it is in comparison to ATI's previous generations of high-end FireGL products. Unlike its predecessors, the FirePro V8700 is not a full-length ATX card, meaning it does not require an Extended ATX sized chassis in order to run. It will happily run in mid-tower cases, provided you have a PCI Express graphics slot, two case I/O slots, and two 6-pin PCI Express power connectors. By the looks of the design, it appears that the FireGL V8700 shares many of the same PCB attributes as a Radeon HD 4870 card, although there are some slight differences.

FirePro V8700 - Bottom

FirePro V8700 - Top

The FirePro V8700 is dominated by its simple shiny black cooling system, which uses ATI's standardized design of a dual-slot copper heatpipe-equipped heatsink system coupled together with an embedded blower fan, which exhausts hot air out of the back of the chassis. While excessively loud upon system startup, the cooling system is very quiet during normal day to day use, even during intensive 3D workloads, we never heard the cooling system fire up to a point where it would become a nuisance when loaded in a tower chassis. ATI should definitely be commended for bringing down the noise level of their high-end FirePro products compared to the previous high-end FireGL cards.

If you flip the PCB, you can see that the FirePro V8700 has a modern Crossfire-X compatible multi-GPU connector. However, ATI does not support multi-GPU operation on the FireGL lineup, so these connectors are somewhat useless at this point in time. For the record, you can integrate multiple FireGL/Pro cards into the same system and have them run independently, but ATI does not support linking multiple cards together for enhanced workstation-application performance yet. On the other side of the PCB, around the Crossfire connectors, you can see the necessary connectors for connecting Genlock/Framelock daughter boards.

Multi-GPU Connectors and I/O Panel

PCI Express 2.0 x16 Connector

The FirePro V8700 is equipped with a PCI Express 2.0 x16 interface. This means that the card can run happily in any modern PCI Express-equipped system, but will support doubled bandwidth levels on PCI Express 2.0 enabled systems.

The I/O panel of the FirePro V8700 is a bit unique, as it deviates from both the Radeon HD4x00 series designs and previous generation FireGL I/O panels. The FirePro V8700 ships with output connectors for two DisplayPort-enabled monitors along with a single dual-link DVI output ports. Unfortunately, you cannot use all three at the same time, as the FirePro V8700 only supports outputs on two displays at any given time. However, with DisplayPort monitors becoming readily available for high-end workstation users, the shift to this thinner and cleaner monitor interface is certainly appreciated. The FirePro V8700 also supports 30-bit color displays, in all their 1 billion+ color glory, which are actually available on the market if you are willing to pay a hefty price premium. The FirePro V8700 also supports a standard 3-pin stereoscopic output, if you want to work in the third dimension.

3-pin Stereo (Top), 2 x DisplayPort (Bottom Left), Dual-Link DVI (Bottom Right)

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