|CGSociety Hardware Review|
28 March 2007, by Joseph Tan
|NVIDIA has recently released a series of high-end Quadro FX workstation graphics cards. CGSociety was loaned a series of cards from a local supplier, LeadTek, and we will focus on the recently announced Quadro FX 4600. The new Quadro FX products Quadro FX 4600 and the 5600 are based upon the G80GL GPU and are aimed at high-end applications.|
The NVIDIA Quadro products are sold at a price premium compared to their consumer-oriented GeForce products. According to NVIDIA, the Quadro FX range are ISV certified with the leading professional applications, support commitment of three years from release, guaranteed availability for 18 months from release, Quadro memory management optimization, fast pixel read-back performance, and additional workstation-specific OpenGL acceleration support.
|Admittedly, every GeForce product from my memory has enjoyed updated driver support for at least three years after release, and are available for years from retailers after initial release.|
However the Quadro FX feature additional OpenGL support such as hardware clip planes make a significant difference and can be seen in SPECViewPerf benchmark results. For broadcast applications specialty Quadro FX products support GenLock and SDI outputs.
Generally we've found the high-end Quadro FX products to have more onboard memory, to process larger dataset, than their GeForce cousins. Quadro FX products generally run at a more conservative core and/or memory clock rate compared to their GeForce products for extra margin of reliability.
|Listed below are quick specifications on the boards that we have reviewed:|
|All the Quadro FX boards provide similar 2D capabilities, all have DVI-I outputs and the entry-level Quadro FX 560 even has one dual-link DVI output. How they differ is predominately 3D performance, amount of onboard memory, and specialized types of video outputs like SDI, GenLock, Component, and stereoscopic glasses support. The Quadro FX 4600 is the exception as its new unified-shader support opens the door to future applications. |
|High-End Quadro FX 5500 and 4600|
The Quadro FX 5500 and 4600 DCC graphics boards gave the best performances in this review. Looking at the price tags, this comes as no surprise.
The Quadro FX 5500, built around the G71GL GPU, was the strongest 3D workstation card from NVIDIA before the release of the Quadro FX 5600/4600. The card is a full-height PCI Express x16 measuring 241mm long. At the rear are two dual link DVI-I ports, and a stereoscopic connector for 3D shutter glasses. The top features an SLI connector and a 14-pin box connector for the GenLock daughter board.
There is 1GB of onboard memory fed by a 256-bit bus. The board's power usage is 96 watts (quoted by NVIDIA) and a 6-pin Molex connector must be hooked up to the computer's power supply. The large fan assembly does it's job without too much noise generated even when the GPU is hottest under high load.
The Quadro FX 4600 is the new addition to the Quadro FX workstation line. The only product in this review to offer Shader Model 4/DirectX 10 capabilities, the Quadro FX 4600's GPU is built upon the new G80GL GPU.
The Quadro FX 4600 is a full-height PCI Express x16 card measuring 241mm long. The board's video output is two dual link DVI-I ports, and also has a stereoscopic connector for 3D shutter glasses. The top features an SLI connector and a 14-pin box connector for the GenLock daughter board. According to NVIDIA, the GenLock daughter board for the Quadro FX 5600/4600 will be different to the type for the Quadro FX 5500/4500.
Onboard is 768MB of onboard memory fed by a 384-bit bus (actually six 64-bit buses). The board's power usage is 135 watts (quoted by NVIDIA), a 6-pin Molex connector must be hooked up to the computer's power supply. The Quadro FX 4600's large fan assembly is again, pretty quiet even when the GPU is under load.