The battle at the low-end of the professional graphics card market is warming up. At £79 ($119), AMD’s new FirePro V3900 is the cheapest professional 3D board money can buy, coming in at a slightly lower price than Nvidia’s Quadro 400. It still manages to pack 1GB DDR3 memory and 480 stream processors into its compact half height design, however, while consuming less than 50W at peak.
Despite its diminutive size, AMD’s new board provides support for many of the leading CAD applications – not just AutoCAD – with Siemens NX, PTC Creo, SolidWorks and 3ds Max already on the list of certified applications, with others following soon.
The FirePro V3900 also offers support for five displays – albeit with the help of a Multi-Stream Transport (MST) hub – though we’re not sure how effective this entry-level card would be at delivering accelerated 3D over so many displays – a hallmark of its high-end cards, such as the FirePro V7900. More importantly, we’ve yet to see one of these MST hubs in the flesh and, if truth be told, we’re not entirely sure they exist yet.
The reality is the FirePro V3900 is unlikely to be used to drive more than one or two displays, particularly when you consider that its bigger brother, the FirePro V4900 (which supports 3 displays out of the box) is available for a touch over £100.
We do expect the FirePro V3900 to find its way into plenty of small form factor workstations in the coming months, including HP’s Z210. But with the option to configure it as a full-height or low-profile card, it’s also likely to find itself at home in a standard workstation chassis. After all, there’s still a lot of CAD software that simply can’t take advantage of higher performing cards, which should make the FirePro V3900 an excellent choice for many designers and engineers out there.
Look out for a full review soon. I’ve got one in my bag. Now, just need to find a suitable workstation.