AMD FirePro V9800 4GB Professional Graphics Card Review
The final piece of the FirePro puzzle
When the AMD Evergreen series of GPUs was released back in September of 2009, we knew that an update to the professional graphics lineup from AMD wasn't going to be far behind. We reviewed the first of the new cards in April as the FirePro V8800 and it was quickly followed by the V5800 and V3800 and then the V7800 and V4800. There was still one card missing from the family that we learned about in our initial briefings: the leader of the group, the V9800.
The FirePro V9800 and the V8800 share a lot of features and most of the primary performance options though the V9800 has some key items that differentiate it from the rest of the FirePro line. First, this card has a total of 4GB of frame buffer, double that of the FirePro V8800 and allowing the GPU to handle much larger data sets for higher quality rendering at higher resolutions. The GPU under the hood is still a 1600 shader processor Cypress core that supports DX11, OGL 4.0 and Shader Model 5.0 DirectCompute.
The second key product feature on the V9800 is the set of six mini DisplayPort outputs.
Since the word Eyefinity first reached us in the consumer space we knew that we were excited about the possibilities that having 3-6 displays would bring to the world of gaming. But in reality, the true winners with Eyefinity are going to be found in the professional workspace where support for up to 6 displays out of a single graphics card can increase work area and productivity and do it at a cost well below anything we have seen before.
The FirePro V9800 now completes the Evergreen family of professional series graphics cards ranging from $3500 down to $109 depending on your needs. An interesting note on the power consumption - the V9800 actually has a lower TDP than the V8800 even though it has double the memory capacity and uses the same GPU.
Obviously the biggest feature of the FirePro V9800 is the support for 6 displays on a single card that allows for developers and professional users to increase their productivity or even to create new workflow models for their business. Customers that are creating multiple panel displays for store fronts, exhibit halls or meeting rooms are also able to do more with less money than they have before.
Combining more than one V9800 card is possible using the FirePro S400 card - a small board that is responsible for synchronizing display outputs on multiple graphics cards. Using the S400 a system can support up to four FirePro V9800s (or any other GPU) for a total of 24 outputs in a single PC! While a set of four V9800 cards is going to be expensive ($14,000 or so), that cost is well below any other professional solution that provides that many display configurations.
AMD knows that visualizing and describing the benefits of the V9800 and its 6 display outputs can be difficult with traditional benchmarks and marketing. They sent along a handful of case studies from customers that were provided V9800 cards early in order to show the media how these large scale customers are utilizing Eyefinity technology. You can see on the right side of this image above that the organization is using one of the 6x4 display configurations as a huge single display.
AMD also knows that majority of professional graphics reviews focus on SPECviewperf testing among a handful of other tests and that their product might not stand out as much as it could without the use of more real-world testing scenarios. In these AMD-provided slides they have compared the V9800 ($3499) to the NVIDIA Quadro 6000 ($5999) and the V8000 ($1499) against the NVIDIA Quadro 5000 ($2249). The results are pretty close on either side of the debate but AMD still holds the price advantage and feature advantages.