AMD FirePro V3900: Pro Performance, Bargain Price

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The FirePro V3900 is significantly faster than its V3800 predecessor. It costs ~$15 more than the V3800, but delivers an average of 20-25% better performance. Depending on your workload, that boost can be as high as 100%. While Nvidia wasn't able to provide us with a comparison card to test, the company told us that it expected the FirePro V3900's performance to rank somewhere between a Quadro 400 and a Quadro 600. The Quadro 400 is a definite low ball -- it's hampered by a 64-bit memory interface and just 512MB of RAM, similar to the V3800. The Quadro 600 fits the V3900's specs more accurately, with a 1GB frame buffer and a 128-bit memory interface, but is currently priced at $154.

We can't draw any performance conclusions from that, but the $40 gap between the FirePro V3900 and the Quadro 600 is a solid indicator of AMD's aggressive pricing. As we covered back when the FirePro V3900 launched, AMD has gone after the professional GPU business by attacking Nvidia's high margins any way it can. With an estimated 20% market share, AMD is still a minority player, but it has been gaining ground steadily the past five years.

Should You Go Pro? (Revisited)

If you're primarily a gamer who likes to dabble in a bit of 3D every now and then, a standard Radeon will suit you just fine. Anyone who works (or intends to work) with 3D modeling software on a regular basis should definitely opt for a FirePro card. The Radeon 6870's performance in workstation applications is too erratic and unpredictable to recommend it as a professional solution. AMD's FirePro V4900 is actually a much better match for the 6870, as it retails for $159 compared to the 6870's $169. The V4900 is clocked 23% higher than the V3900 and offers more than double the bandwidth. Combined, these two features would significantly reduce, if not eliminate, the performance delta between the V3900 and the Radeon 6870.

The AMD FirePro V3900 is a good card at an excellent price point. It's a solid step up from the V3800 and it more than holds its own in professional applications against a more expensive consumer solution. Its performance in leading 3D software programs refutes the idea that professional graphics cards must be expensive. If you're looking for a budget card that still delivers acceptable performance we'd definitely recommend it.

  • Strong performance for its price point
  • Significant improvement over the V3800
  • Advertised support for >2 displays depends on specific, specialized hardware

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