Performance review: Quardro 4000 for Mac

Much has been made of NVIDIA Quadro 4000 for Mac’s Fermi technology. It’s touted as being able to provide amazing acceleration, speeding up even the most complex workflows, and is cited as the main reason why the Quadro 4000 deserves its fairly hefty price tag. The obvious question being, how well does it actually work?

The test

The intrepid folk over at have taken it upon themselves to find out. They tested the the Quadro against some top Mac-compatible graphics processors using SPECviewperf performance evaluation software. The software takes code from graphics applications such as Maya and LightWave to create performance benchmarks based on 3D primitives (including points, lines, triangles, quads and polygons); attributes per vertex, primitive and frame; lighting; texture mapping; alpha blending; fogging; anti-aliasing and depth buffering.

They ran the tests on a 6-core Mac Pro Westmere at 2560×1440 with no anti-aliasing, as the cards they used supported it to different degrees. They ran the tests on a Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit system, as there is no Mac version of SPECviewperf.

The results

SPECviewperf Radeon HD 5770 GeForce GTX 285 Radeon HD 5870 Quadro FX 4800 Quadro 4000
CATIA 7.0 5.8 7.5 23.7 36.9
EnSight 16.8 11.6 18.6 14.8 28.0
LightWave 25.4 12.2 26.0 54.5 56.0
Maya 6.0 5.0 8.4 46.2 72.1
Pro/ENGINEER 2.1 1.5 2.1 9.0 9.1
Solid Works 18.6 10.8 19.9 40.4 48.9
Siemens TCVIS 4.5 2.4 4.2 17.3 32.9
Siemens NX 8.1 5.2 12.1 17.0 29.7

As you can see, the Quadro 4000 easily outperformed other GPUs on every programme, delivering more frames per second than any other. According to SPECviewperf’s metrics, it’s the premiere card on the market.

However, they also put the GPUs through their paces using FutureMark’s 3DMark Vantage software. They focused on 3DMark Vantage’s ‘feature tests’, which measure performance on tasks including texture fills, colour fills, parallax occlusion mapping, particle simulation and pixel shading.

Vantage Radeon HD 5770 GeForce GTX 285 Radeon HD 5870 Quadro FX 4800 Quadro 4000
Texture Fill (GTexels/s) 31.6 24.1 62.9 17.7 14.1
Color Fill (GPixels/s) 3.8 7.4 7.6 3.4 3.6
Pixel Shader (FPS) 30.9 39.3 60.5 25.7 18.3
Windy Flag (FPS) 29.5 32.5 37.5 21.3 30.1
Particles Collide (FPS) 36.0 37.8 58.7 31.4 52.1
Perlin Noise (FPS) 86.5 45.5 171.1 29.7 34.1


For this kind of work, the Radeon HD 5870 beats all comers, easily outpacing the Quadro 4000.

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Choosing your GPU

While the Quadro 4000 is obviously powerful and great for certain applications, it’s not a catch-all solution. Its usefulness will vary depending on the applications you want to run and the processes you want that application to perform. Some apps and plugins have been optimised for it (The Foundry’s Kronos plug-in for After Effects) or recommend it (CS5 apps, DaVinci Resolve); others might not see any real gain at all.

For help finding the right GPU for your workflow, get in touch with our team on 03332 400 100, email or leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible. In the meantime, take a look at our full broadcast range.

Call us: 03332 409 306

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