At $1,999, the QuadroFX 4800 is not a cheap workstation solution, but it does provide excellent workstation-class performance, as our benchmarks have shown. The GT200 GPU is a workhorse in these types of applications, and it plows through many of them with performance levels we have never seen before. As a whole, it's an excellent, high-performance, low-noise workstation graphics solution for 2009.
Nearly across the board, the QuadroFX 4800 gives better performance than the prior generation, while doing so at a much lower introductory price point of $1,999 (the QuadroFX 5600 was initially priced at $2,999). Both NVIDIA and ATI are pushing towards lower-cost high-end workstation solutions, which is certainly a positive development considering market conditions and buying requirements. Not only is the QuadroFX 4800 cheaper than the FX 5600, but it's quieter, has better outputs, updated standards support, PCI Express 2.0 and quite a lot more when you factor in all of the GPU-level architecture improvements. Definitely a positive step forward for the NVIDIA workstation graphics card lineup.
However, there is one issue to consider. ATI's new
FirePro V8700 card which we reviewed a few weeks back, forces users to make an interesting decision. While the QuadroFX 4800 is a
solid, exciting card, ATI's FirePro V8700 card can typically deliver similar performance levels (and in some cases, more) with a roughly 25% lower price, at about $1,499. That's a pretty solid price
gap, and it's tough to justify the QuadroFX 4800 over the less
expensive FirePro card at this time.
The QuadroFX 4800 does offer some pretty
important benefits over the FirePro card, mind you. If you need CUDA
support, an improved multi-GPU solution, and slightly lower power
consumption, it does the job great. Performance wise, we think that in
order to demand a price tag as high as it has, NVIDIA might have opted to
include the 216-shader core variant of the GT200 GPU rather than the 192-core
variant. The extra 10% performance boost on top of everything else
would definitely make the QuadroFX 4800 a much more appealing solution
in comparison. It's a possibility that NVIDIA could update the core later on in the QuadroFX 4800's life, but we're not expecting any immediate changes.
One area where NVIDIA has a clear upper-hand right now is availability. QuadroFX 4800 1.5 GB cards are available from a multitude of sources already, and are already at street prices down in the $1,600 range. ATI's FirePro V8700 lineup has yet to fully hit the streets at its intended $1,499 price point So, if you need an excellent workstation solution now, the QuadroFX 4800 is here for you immediately. ATI might be able to provide a more compelling price/performance solution when they start volume FirePro V8700 shipments to market, but by the time it ships, it seems entirely possible that street prices for the QuadroFX 4800 will have closed the price gap. Definitely a tough call, but either way you go, you're getting a lot more performance compared to the previous generation workstation solutions at much lower price tags from the starting gate, which is something everyone can appreciate.