AMD FirePro W9100 vs NVIDIA Quadro K6000

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Performance Summary:  The W9100 is a much more competitive card in July 2014 than the W9000 was in August 2012. Back then, AMD positioned the W9000 as a $4000 card (directly against the Quadro 6000). Today, the W9100 is a $3300 GPU paired against a $5000 Quadro K6000. That price gap at the high end -- the Quadro K6000 is 51% more expensive than the W9100 -- makes it easier to pick an AMD card. While NVIDIA also fields the $1800 Quadro K5000, that GPU offers just 4GB of RAM. While the number of people who need more GPU memory decreases at every demarcation, there are likely far more buyers looking for a >4GB frame buffer than there are buyers who need something above 12GB.

AMD also gets credit for helping improve the number of professional applications that can use OpenCL. Two years ago, almost every Adobe application and most other professional software were entirely CUDA-only and AMD faced a sharp uphill battle to get its hardware supported. Now, some of that has improved. Programs like Premiere Pro and Sony Vegas Pro now have OpenCL code paths whereas earlier versions didn't. These aren't just bullet points -- they're improvements that fundamentally change the competitive comparison between the two companies.

While AMD has absolutely closed the distance between itself and NVIDIA in the professional GPU space, we have to acknowledge that NVIDIA remains in the overall pole position. If you want to use V-Ray, i-ray, or Octane Render, you effectively need an NVIDIA GPU -- V-ray might technically support OpenCL, but we couldn't get it working. The company's OpenCL page hasn't been updated since 2012 and basically tells users to switch to CUDA. Other applications, like SolidWorks and AutoCAD, tilt so strongly in Nvidia's favor they may actually offset the increased price.

At the same time, however, AMD has made a strong (and much-improved) argument for itself in a price/performance evaluation. No, it doesn't always match the Quadro K6000 for total performance, but it does often match or exceed that GPU once you factor in the cost of the card. Workstation markets tend to tolerate much higher prices than the consumer space, but compared to where the W9000 was at this point in 2012, the W9100 is a far better product.

Here's what all this means in aggregate:  If you need more than 12GB of VRAM, then the W9100 is the obvious best card on the market. If you're working in Maya or PTC Creo, the FirePro may be the best all-around choice, period.  Other applications are a case-by-case basis -- in many instances, while the FirePro W9100 isn't as fast as the Quadro K6000, its price/performance ratio keep it firmly in the running. If AMD continues to improve its product mix and overall software support, it should close the gap even more in the pro GPU market in the next 18-24 months.


  • Largest frame buffer (16GB) you can buy
  • Good price/performance ratio
  • Quieter than consumer R9 290X GPUs
  • Marked improvement over past two years.
  • NVIDIA's Quadro K6000 still has a compatibility and performance advantage.
  • Card is physically huge.

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