48 Replies Latest reply on May 29, 2012 10:55 AM by Kelvin Lamport

    ATI FirePro vs nVidia Quadro

    Charles Culp

      I don't want to state this benchmark as definitive, but it is the best data that I could find.



      Price  Score   Card

      $99     487      ATI FirePro v3800

      $170   687      nVidia Quadro 600

      $450   1,104   nVidia Quadro 2000

      $160   1,156   ATI FirePro v4800

      $385   1,432   ATI FirePro v5800

      $780   1,893   nVidia Quadro 4000

      $630   2,397   ATI FirePro v7800




      As you can see from the first graph, the ATI cards get you better performance/dollar across the board. The $160 ATI FirePro v4800 ($160) actually scores better than the Quadro 2000 ($450). From the second graph, you can see exactly why I like the v4800. It is a good "value".


      Benchmarks taken from: http://www.videocardbenchmark.net

      A higher number is better.

      How reliable are they? Well, it's free information from the internet.


      The ATI FirePro v3800 is adequate for small assemblies for the average user. I suggest the ATI FirePro v4800 for most people. It actually may be overkill, but for that price, who cares. I'm sure you can see why I don't suggest nVidia cards anymore.


      Other very serious considerations are system stability and compatibility. Many people prefer one brand over the other based on their experience. That may be worth a few hundred dollars, but that is your decision.


      The big point that I think needs to be taken into consideration, and probably puts this whole conversation into perspective, is that the Quadro 600, and the ATI FirePro v4800, are both probably more than enough for everyone. So even though some of these higher cards may be of a resonable value, and get a higher benchmark, it is all going to waste. SolidWorks is not super-graphics intensive, and doesn't require a strong-man card. This depends on how you use it, but for people who are not doing massive assemblies, or massivly complex shapes with transparencies, and edges shown, and assemblies, all at the same time, then these cheaper cards are more than enough.

        • Re: ATI FirePro vs nVidia Quadro
          Jeff Mowry

          Charles, from my recent experience (last three years) I'd also confirm what your numbers show--that you can find better value with ATI.  Their latest offerings of the FirePro line is a great value (and this is coming from somone who always used Quadro cards previously).


          The FirePro v4800 I've got (that I'm trying to sell) seemed to even handle RealView just fine, and that was in an assembly with complex, swoopy parts (though only ~50 or so parts).  I haven't tested it with larger assemblies.  But it certainly rivaled my older FireGL V5600, considered "mid-range", and may have even bettered it.  Quite a cost difference between the two, and, according to your stats, quite a difference in value between nVidia and ATI.  I wonder if this has anything to do with AMD's purchase of ATI from a couple years ago?  Seems to be working for them.

          • Re: ATI FirePro vs nVidia Quadro
            Richard Bremmer

            There is a comparison of videocards made by HP as well. FirePro, Quadro FX and Quadro cards are mentioned. As I am not sure if I am allowed to post the pdf please read below how to find that comparison. I believe a HP machine is neccesary to be able to install the "HP Performance Advisor".

            Download and install the HP Performance Advisor from HP http://h20331.www2.hp.com/Hpsub/cache/285686-0-0-225-121.html. It has a button on the top right hand side, just below the "close this window" button. This button will bring you to the "White Paper Index" section, this section contains a pdf named "Tips For Performance SolidWorks 2010". The document has been updated 20th january 2011.

            They seem to use the punchholder to test.


            Edit1 24-01-12:

            The document has been updated 27th of October 2011 to include the new 9 series from ATI. nVidia used to be better when compared to the 8 series ATI, but with the "new" 9 series, ATI takes the lead again. The V4900 is equal to the Quadro 4000 for SW performance according to the HP tests.

            This is not true for notebooks however.

            • Re: ATI FirePro vs nVidia Quadro
              Alin Vargatu

              Thanks Charles!

              • Re: ATI FirePro vs nVidia Quadro
                Josh Mings

                Thank Charles,I've been using Passmark's software on some tests. The ATI 4800 and Quadro 2000, 3800 and 5000m. My opinion is that NVIDIA's mid-range has gone down in performance. The Quadro 2000 is alright for most work, at least not getting black screens, like on the 1800 and previous, but on our last upgrade, we went with the QuadroFX 3800 and have had great results.

                • Re: ATI FirePro vs nVidia Quadro
                  Adam Harte-Maxwell

                  Thanks for the very informative post.


                  I've always leaned more towards NVidia products as their drivers have always seemed to be less problematic than ATI's, however in light of NVidia's most recent offerings and problems, this no longer seems to be the case. However, I just recently upgraded from a DELL M65 to a M4600 with the Quadro 1000M, and it's performing very well with no issues running SW2011 SP4 using the latest driver supplied by Dell.  Installing SW2012 Beta 1 today...

                    • Re: ATI FirePro vs nVidia Quadro
                      Mark Tafelski

                      I recently switched (temporarily) from a nVidia Quadro FX1800 to an ATI FirePro V5800.  I did not find the increase in performance that I was hoping to see.  I also experienced graphics issues (areas of the screen not refreshing and artifacts around my cursor).  I'm running SW 2011 SP4.0 and believe that I was running the closest driver that I could find to the SW approved/recommended driver.


                      I have since switched back to the Quadro FX1800 and the FirePro V5800 has been put into the conference room computer instead of my workstation.



                        • Re: ATI FirePro vs nVidia Quadro
                          Charles Culp



                          What kind of models do you work with? How was your FX1800 performing poorly, so you wanted to upgrade? What was your v5800 not doing, that you thought it would?


                          The issues you were having with the ATI sound like what I had with my v4800 prior to using the approved drivers. I wonder if there is a solution out there for you...


                          Thanks for the response.

                            • Re: ATI FirePro vs nVidia Quadro
                              Mark Tafelski

                              Running SW 2011 SP4 on Windows 7 64 bit.   I'm using two flat panels (primary 1920 x 1200, secondary 1920 x 1080).  Usually run SW on primary and other misc. applications on the secondary.  Occassionaly I run a second window of SW on the second display to pull up a project for reference.   We do machine design and a typical assembly would be 150 to 200 parts.   For the most part I am happy with the FX1800, but was configuring some new workstations for "non-SW" use and we ordered the ATI V5800's instead of the FX1800 or FX2000 based on the better price/performance comparison.


                              As far as driversfor the ATI V5800 I was running version 8.723 - listed as "recommended" on the SW web site.


                              I wasn't having an issues with the FX1800, I was just thinking I would get better performance from the V5800 due to the additional memory and better benchmark scores.


                              Other system specs in case the matter: HP Z600 - 12 Gig of Ram - Xeon X5670 processor


                              I guess that we will have to re-evaluate again before we purchase more workstations or graphics cards.



                                • Re: ATI FirePro vs nVidia Quadro
                                  Charles Culp

                                  Thanks for the information, Mark.


                                  I asked about what you expected for performace because often people have an expectation for the video cards that doesn't match their function. What I mean, is that a faster video card will:

                                  - Allow for smoother rotations, expecially when components are transparent, edges on, etc.

                                  - Allow for higher quality models (Tools>Options>Document Properties>Image Quality>Shaded and draft quality resolution)

                                  - Allow for quicker switching (CTRL-TAB) between SolidWorks and other windows

                                  - Allow for more visual effects like shadows, Real View, Ambient Occlusion, Advanced Appearances, etc.


                                  It will not effect rebuild times, part loading times, drawing view regeneration, which are all controlled by the CPU.


                                  It sounds like you are using the correct video driver, so I can't actually suggest anything to help you out, but I do appreciate you posting your experience.

                                  • Re: ATI FirePro vs nVidia Quadro
                                    Sammy Redshaw

                                    Never ever go with benchmark scores!!!!   You would be suprised what chip manufactures can do to make the benchmark look good, but in the real world they perform awful. Best thing to do is to speak to heavy cad users they will tell you what is good and bad. I know from experiance (I had an fx v5700 512mb for a year) that the ati cards the drivers are not reknowned for stablity and they do not handle  opengl as well as quadros. Also the best thing about the quadro drivers is you select what cad application you are using and it will configure the card to the optimal settings.

                                      • Re: ATI FirePro vs nVidia Quadro
                                        Charles Culp



                                        Yeah, I very much understand your point. The benchmark above only tells part of a much larger story. Stability is probably more important that a little bit faster frame rate.


                                        Unfortunatly, my last video card was an nVidia, and it was horrid. I had problems from the day I got it, and then more problems later. The whole thing was a nightmare. You can just browse the forums from postings today showing how many people are having problems with their nVidia Quadro 2000 and 4000. (Both posted today: https://forum.solidworks.com/thread/44100?tstart=0 https://forum.solidworks.com/thread/25984?tstart=0)


                                        So, is nVidia better than ATI? Who knows. They both, apparently, don't have a handle on good drivers for all systems. So thats what this discussion board is about. I think most people who read this thread count as "heavy cad users," so we are the people you are talking about.

                                          • Re: ATI FirePro vs nVidia Quadro
                                            Sammy Redshaw



                                            Not  to argue with you but the whole microsoft graphic API has been restructured for windows vista/win7,  This why there are alot of driver issues to be resolved. Effectivly the whole knowleged base of workarounds for the driver programing has to be relearnt.


                                            Similar thing  happened with X windows , which macosX BSD linux and unix use, it  look a while to sort out for both the hardware and software developers.

                                            • Re: ATI FirePro vs nVidia Quadro
                                              Nick Cruz

                                              So, where are we at today with this?  Im about to pull the trigger on a video card to go with my Alienware setup.  The only piece of the puzzle that Alienware didnt make in regards to have a workstation vs a gaming rig is the video card.  So, I have about 300 to play with and Im looking at either the FX1800 or the V5800.  I currently work with large machines (1000+ parts), and I have been getting more involved with renderings, which is why I upgraded from the T5500 to the Alienware.

                                  • Re: ATI FirePro vs nVidia Quadro
                                    Charles Culp

                                    Time for an update. Here is new data from January 2012.





                                    * Note that the v4900 Passmark score is estimated. Since it is the clear winner, keep in mind that this is not very accurate.


                                    The AMD FirePro v4900,

                                    for whatever reason, does not have a Passmark benchmark score. That is too bad, because based on what I have read, it will be a clear winner in the price/performance ratio for SolidWorks graphics cards. Sometime between inital release, and when I checked today, AMD reduced the price on the vx900 series cards. They are now a pretty good deal, and probably the best value you can find.



                                    So it appears that the $165 v4900 is probably the relative same speed as the $780 Quadro 4000. Ouch.


                                    So, how did I calculate the performance of the v4900? Want to criticize my calculation? Sure, I got it from here: http://jonpeddie.com/reviews/comments/benchmarking-the-firepro-v7900-v5900-and-v4900-the-v4900-shined-on-specapc-/

                                    • Re: ATI FirePro vs nVidia Quadro
                                      John Samson

                                      Passmark is totally irrelevant for evaluating a CAD card since they lump CAD and gaming together and is geared towards testing gaming performance. Besides, they only test DirectX and not OpenGL which is what Solidworks uses. Benchmarks related to Solidworks performance should be Specviewperf and Solidworks Performance Test.


                                      The Firepro v4900 looks interesting, and I'm considering buying that one over Quadro 2000. However, by looking at the benchmarks we see:


                                      Quadro 2000

                                           Passmark: 1109

                                           Specviewperf 11 (sw02): 32-43 fps (several sources)

                                           Solidworks Performance Test  (graphics) (http://www.solidworks.com/sw/support/shareyourscore.htm)

                                                2011: 35-40 (average)

                                                2012: 65-75 (average)


                                      Firepro v4900

                                           Passmark: 1208 (v4800, no v4900)

                                           Specviewperf 11 (sw02): 42 fps (http://jonpeddie.com/reviews/comments/benchmarking-the-firepro-v7900-v5900-and-v4900-the-v4900-shined-on-specapc-/)

                                           Solidworks Performance Test  (graphics) (http://www.solidworks.com/sw/support/shareyourscore.htm)

                                                2011: 45 (average for v4800, no data for v4900)

                                                2012: 110 (average for 3 samples of v4900)

                                                2012: 100 (average for v4800)


                                      For reference, my current Geforce 8800GT gaming card gets these figures

                                           Passmark: 997

                                           Specviewperf 11 (sw02): 10.43 fps

                                           Solidworks Performance Test (graphics)


                                                     138.3 (@3.0Ghz)

                                                     112.3 (@3.7Ghz overclocked. Why does overclocing the CPU give better graphics performance?)


                                      In conclusion, the v4900 is substantially worse than the Quadro 2000 for Solidworks 2012 when looking at the Solidworks Performance Test. In fact, the v4900 gives no performance improvement over my 8800GT gaming card which is 4 years old!

                                        • Re: ATI FirePro vs nVidia Quadro
                                          Charles Culp

                                          I'll agree with the Specviewperf test, although the fact that they use SolidWorks 2003 for that really bothers me. The changes in SolidWorks '08+ are significant for how it handles graphics.


                                          I have little faith in the SolidWorks benchmark. It has produced too many results that are known to be false. I will have to see a review of it against known performances before it will mean anything to me.

                                        • Re: ATI FirePro vs nVidia Quadro
                                          Samuel Barnum

                                          I'm going to suggest that what one really needs to do is take a look at the realtime performance of a graphics card while using SW.  Use a utility like GPUZ to see what your GPU and Memory usage are while working in SW. 


                                          I work with both small parts and very very large assemblies.  Usually I have Realview off and most performance related parameters set to lower detail (faster).  Small simple parts will not push the GPU past 30ish % usage, Larger more complicated parts can push it up to 90% GPU usage.  Then something interesting happens, as the parts get more complex, and assemblies get just moderately complex, the GPU usage decreases as the complexity increases.  Finally when I have a multi-thousand part assembly, with multi gigabyte memory usage, the GPU usage doesn't even clear 5%.  This suggests that the CPU is really the limiting factor since the CPU is running at 100% Max clock rate/CPU usage (for the SW thread) in all of these cases,  except maybe for the small simple part.


                                          Also if you are interested, you can measure your Realtime FPS in the SW View-Port with a utility like FRAPS.








                                          My system Specs:

                                          ASUS P6TS WS

                                          Xeon W3680  (6 core) OC to 4.14 Ghz

                                          24 GB Ram

                                          OCZ Vertex 3

                                          Quadro 1800

                                          Win7 X64 Sp1

                                          SW 2012 Sp1


                                            • Re: ATI FirePro vs nVidia Quadro
                                              Anna Wood

                                              To add to what Samuel says I have seen no real difference in performance when doing a Spin500Mouse test on my models with the Quadro 600, 2000, 4000 or 5000.  The Spin500Mouse test is on Josh Mings blog, bottom of the page from the following link.




                                              I have tested this on small models and models that took 20 gigs of RAM and a half hour to load off of SSD drives. (5 gigs of data).


                                              It is interesting to watch the GPUZ numbers as it is running.  I need to try out the Fraps program on my models.


                                              I have come to the conclusion that video card performance with SolidWorks is very fuzzy to determine.  The CPU is much more a driving factor.  I think the vast majority of users will do fine with just a lower range video card.  Even at the lower end the video card these days are very powerful.





                                            • Re: ATI FirePro vs nVidia Quadro
                                              John Sanchez

                                              Hey Charles and Anna,

                                              I am working with 100-200 part assemblies, nothing real large. When I go to edit a part in the assembly, it is BRUTALLY slow and as far as I'm concerned not usuable. Which is frustrating because I enjoy using this feature in SolidWorks. What do you recommend for me. I'm using a NVIDIA FX 580 and thought it was possibly the card so i put in a RADEON 6970 which is a nice card but apparently not for SolidWorks because I couldn't find a certified driver... Anyway, some input would be apprecaited. Thank-you



                                                • Re: ATI FirePro vs nVidia Quadro
                                                  Anna Wood



                                                  Your system is brutally slow doing what?



                                                  • Re: ATI FirePro vs nVidia Quadro
                                                    Charles Culp

                                                    With only 100-200 parts, I would think an FX580 should be sufficient, but apparently not. It sounds like you need more video memory. I'm still going to just suggest the AMD v4900, because I really think that 1GB should be enough ($160). The v5900 has 2 GB of video memory, and will be a guaranteed winner for you, they seem to be selling for $380.


                                                    Are any of your parts really complex? Does turning of edges help (so go to shaded view without edges)? That can be a quick-fix for now (or forever). That and I would stick with the FX580, that Radeon card is just going to be difficult.

                                                      • Re: ATI FirePro vs nVidia Quadro
                                                        John Sanchez

                                                        Thanks Charles, all good advice.


                                                        I'll try hiding edges and see if that helps. The assembly is made up of some 8020 extrusion which is kind of a line nightmare.


                                                        What is the story with gaming cards performing so poorly in SolidWorks. I even soft modded the driver so that SolidWorks would think that the Radeon was a FirePro (to unlock real view) and it still acted kind of clunky. Where else will performance suffer with the Radeon card in SW? curiosity mainly.....


                                                        and thank-you again for the recommendations. I'll note the cards you suggested.


                                                        P.S. What's your input on the FX chip? Like Anna was mentioning..