While NVIDIA has released a number of new graphics cards for the gaming market over the last year and a half, we have seen relatively few updates to their workstation lineup in that same timeframe. It's been since mid-2007 that we saw the last major performance update to the QuadroFX lineup with the launch of their flagship QuadroFX 5600. While the monstrous G80 GPU-based QuadroFX 5600 has no doubt had competition since its release, it's been able to effectively hold off competing ATI products to reign as the performance champ throughout this last year and a half or so.
Early in 2008, NVIDIA released the QuadroFX 3700 board priced at the more cost-conscious (only $1,700) high-end workstation market. Using the less powerful, but more efficient G92 architecture, it delivered raw GPU performance close to that of the QuadroFX 5600, but had only 512 MB of memory and overall lukewarm specs given the price tag. Nevertheless, NVIDIA still held the performance crown with the QuadroFX 5600, and all was well in the workstation realm.
Now, as we've seen in the labs, ATI is assaulting that performance crown with their new FirePro lineup of workstation graphics cards. The top-tier FirePro V8700 model which we looked at a few weeks back uses ATI's exciting new RV770 graphics processor and was able to wallop the QuadroFX 5600 board in terms of performance while also being a lot less expensive. Of course, NVIDIA is right there with a solution of their own to compete against the newly rejuvenated FirePro lineup, but the question is, are NVIDIA's new models enough to stave off a newly energized ATI?
Two new models just hit the QuadroFX lineup. On the high-end, they have the QuadroFX 5800 card, using the same powerful GT200 architecture which powers the GeForce GTX 280, coupled together with 4 GB of memory and a 512-bit memory interface. Of course, this beast costs $3,499, and it's going to be a tough sell in this economic market, powerful as it may be. Perhaps the more reasonable solution is the card we're looking at today, the QuadroFX 4800, the QuadroFX 5800's little brother.
The QuadroFX 4800 is a much more palatable high-end solution, coupling together a GT200 graphics processor with 1.5 GB of memory and a price tag nearly half that of the QuadroFX 5800. Let's find out how NVIDIA's massive GT200 graphics processor handles workstation-class loads instead of crunching pixels in Crysis...