AMD FirePro V3900: Pro Performance, Bargain Price


The FirePro V3900 is AMD's latest budget solution for the professional graphics market. We covered the card's launch last month; it's a formidable step up from the V3800 it replaces. Budget card launches may lack some of the excitement of high-end product debuts, but lower-end cards like the V3900 account for a significant percentage of AMD's total GPU sales.

The V3900 is interesting for another reason -- it's AMD's latest salvo in its ongoing campaign to steal professional market share away from rival Nvidia. Workstation-class GPU sales are overwhelmingly dominated by Team Green, but AMD has slashed its professional prices in an attempt to siphon market share. The FirePro V3900 is aggressively positioned against its predecessor, as you can see from the specs below.

AMD Fire Pro V3900
Specifications & Features
Stream Processors: 480
Memory Interface: 128-bit

Size/Type: 1GB DDR3
Bandwidth (GB/s): 28.8

Display Outputs
DisplayPort 1.2: 1
Dual-link DVI: 1
Max. Resolution per monitor: 2560x1600 @ 60Hz
Max. Combined Horizontal Resolution: 9600x1080 @ 60Hz
AMD Eyefinity Technology Support: Yes
API/Feature/OS Support
OpenCL: 1.1
OpenGL: 4.2
DirectX: 11.0
Shader Model: 5.0
OS Support: Microsoft Windows 7, Windows XP, Windows Vista, Linux (32-bit or 64-bit)

Thermal/Power/Form Factor
Max Power (TDP): <75 W
Max Power (measured): <50 watts
Slots Required: 1
Form Factor: Half Length/Half Height (packaging includes full-height bracket)
Bus Interface: PCI Express 2.1 x16

Street Price:  $119

The FirePro V3900 is currently selling for $114; the FirePro V3800 is $99. Based on specifications alone, we expect the V3900 to be a substantially better value.

Should You Go Pro?

This is one of the most common questions readers ask about professional video cards, so we're going to take a moment to set the record straight. Both AMD and Nvidia have created some FUD on this subject; there's a video on YouTube from last spring in which Bobby Miller, the ex-FirePro maanger at AMD, states that "AMD FirePro graphics cards feature a unique hardware set that differs greatly from what can be found in consumer graphics cards... If you put the AMD FirePro chip into a Radeon board, it simply would not function."

This is somewhat misleading. AMD may perform some additional validation on FirePro products, and the video cards themselves sometimes carry different display outputs or RAM loadouts -- but the GPUs at the heart of the card carry the same features as their consumer-class cousins. That doesn't mean professional GPUs are a bad purchase -- just be aware that they aren't built on fundamentally different technology.

Professional cards like the FirePro V3900 offer support for 10-bit color, up to five simultaneous displays (if you have monitors that support DisplayPort 1.2 and a hub), and accelerated rendering support for 3D applications like 3ds Max, Maya, Lightwave, and a number of other programs. This last feature is typically the reason why people invest in professional graphics cards rather than opting for consumer-class solutions.

Related content