Power Consumption and Final Thoughts
While the AMD FirePro V7900 does in fact use more power than the V7800, it isn’t by much as we say right around that ~150 watt barrier. The V7800 did not include PowerTune support and as such had a hard TDP of 138 watts while the V7900 remains more flexible. The V5900 sees power consumption hovering around 60+ watts lower than that of the V7900, falling in line with what AMD reported.
The new FirePro V7900 and V5900 cards from AMD weren’t touted at being world-ending performance leaders in their segment. At best, the V7900 was claimed to best the V7800 by 10-60% depending on the application while the V5900 was supposed to be about 10-70% faster in the same application scope. In my testing, the V7900 was indeed faster than the V7800 in our professional level SPEC-based benchmarks in all cases but one – and in some cases by a higher amount than even AMD indicated. Obviously the beat goes on in regards to AMD’s push with newer hardware and updated software for the professional markets.
AMD’s own literature compares the V7900 against NVIDIA’s Quadro 4000, though while the closest competitor is still priced a good $300 lower. The Quadro 5000 though is priced $600 higher – nothing quite matches up perfectly here for us to compare. But I think that is mostly the point from AMD’s perspective: by offering parts like the V7900 and V5900 in price segments that NVIDIA doesn’t already address, AMD can hope to win over professional consumers looking to save a few bucks (versus the Q5000) or those that want more performance for just a bit more dough (versus the Q4000). The problem of course is that unlike the consumer market, the professional world isn’t as dollar sensitive.
AMD still has the edge in this regard though not much has really changed from the V7800 to today with the V7900. With Eyefinity on its side, the FirePro lineup has a killer feature that NVIDIA STILL cannot match without adding in a second graphics cards and thus doubling your investment. Professional users, much more so than consumers, demand the benefits of using multiple displays and as such AMD’s offerings have a noticeable edge. Improved geometry performance helps as does support for DisplayPort 1.2 technology, but these are both areas where NVIDIA can easily play catch up.
A $999, the FirePro V7900 is launching at a $200 price premium over the initial price of the V7800 back in May of 2010. Considering you can now get the V7800 for $699 online, I think the thousand dollar tag on this card might be a bit much to swallow for a professional user that is actually building their own system. If it were $899 or even $800 this would obviously be the best choice for the "mid-range" of the professional graphics market.
The V5900 will run you $599 at launch but again the price tag on the V7800 makes it a more attractive offering today. Once the V7800s are gone though, the V7900 and V5900 will have very different competition with drastically different performance results.
Regardless, AMD’s FirePro professional graphics cards continue to have the edge in value over NVIDIA’s Quadro lineup, including its most recent Fermi-based design. The Quadro 4000 is cheaper than the V7900 but has trouble keeping up in raw performance. The Quadro 5000 is competitive but is priced at about $1600 today making it quite a bit more expensive.
AMD still has a lot of work to do to catch up in the professional graphics markets as NVIDIA’s Quadro line still has the dominant market share and mindshare. Technologies like Eyefinity are the key to AMD’s rise in this field but it is inevitable that NVIDIA will rip that idea off and implement more than two display outputs on single cards very soon; then AMD will have to depend on things like raw performance and software partnerships to keep gaining ground. Those software partnerships (such as NVIDIA’s with Adobe) are even more important here than with gamers.
The FirePro V7900 and V5900 launch from AMD based on the Cayman GPU is a successful one that breathes a bit of life into a somewhat stagnant market that hasn’t seen change in about a year. The FirePro V7900 takes over the spot in the market the V7800 held while adding new features and better performance. Killer features like Eyefinity keep AMD ahead of the curve as well. Will NVIDIA decide to answer back with price cuts or newer models? They don’t have a new GPU design ready for professional implementation but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the other green team with something up their sleeve.