Hardware

NVIDIA Quadro FX 3700 (First Look Review)

1 Jun, 2008 By: Ron LaFon

This professional-level graphics card has accelerated drivers for AutoCAD and 3ds Max.


Late last year, NVIDIA refreshed its line of professional-level Quadro graphics cards, introducing several new cards intended for the professional market. One of the new introductions was the Quadro FX 3700, which boasts 512 MB of onboard GDDR3 RAM and a bandwidth of 51.2 GB/second. It supports ultrahigh-resolution panels at resolutions as high as 2,560 x 1,600, and it is PCIe2 compliant. Internal 400 MHz DACs can drive two analog displays at resolutions as high as 2,048 x 1,536 at 85 Hz.



One of NVIDIA's high-end graphics cards, the Quadro FX 3700 has a maximum power consumption of 78 W. It has two dual-link DVI-I connectors, as well as a three-pin mini-DIN stereo connector. The FX 3700 supports OpenGL v.2.1, Shader Model 4, and DirectX 10 and incorporates SLI frame-rendering support. With the ability to process 250 million triangles per second and 28.0 billion texels per second, the Quadro FX 3700 offers an aggregate bandwidth of 16 GB/second bidirectional (8 GB/second in each direction). The Quadro FX 3700 requires an open PCI Express or PCI Express 2.0 x16 slot and uses one supplemental power feed.

I tested the Quadro FX 3700 in a Velocity Micro ProMagix W260 High Performance Workstation PC that was based on an EVGA 780i motherboard with an Intel Core 2 Quad Q9450 2.66 GHz processor that had been overclocked to 3.6 GHz. The Windows XP Professional-based system included 4 GB of Corsair XMS2 DDR2-800 RAM and featured a front-side bus speed of 1,333 MHz. The tests were completed with NVIDIA drivers v.6.14.11.6961 dated January 15, 2008.

I ran the current test suite, which includes the Cadalyst C2008 benchmark (www.cadalyst.com/c2008) running under AutoCAD 2008 with Service Pack 1, the MAXBench4 benchmark running in Autodesk 3ds Max 2008 with current updates, and the full SPECviewperf 10 benchmark suite (www.spec.org). NVIDIA offers accelerated PowerDraft drivers for AutoCAD and MAXtreme drivers for 3ds Max, but I didn't use either during testing and evaluation.



Tests for AutoCAD 2008 and 3ds Max 2008 were conducted with the native OpenGL and Direct3D drivers. For the Cadalyst C2008 bench-mark with AutoCAD 2008 using the OpenGL drivers, I obtained a C2008 total index score of 290; with the native D3D drivers, the generated C2008 total index score was 391. With two concurrent C2008 sessions running, the combined C2008 scores were 796 using the D3D drivers.

With MAXBench4 running under Autodesk 3ds Max 2008, the native OpenGL drivers produced an averaged high/low score of 99.20, and this score increased to 243.05 with the native D3D drivers.

With this system and the Quadro FX 3700, the full SPECviewperf test yielded the following scores: 52.84 for 3ds max-04, 66.49 for catia-02, 57.12 for ensight-03, 248.68 for maya-02, 64.12 for proe-04, 122.26 for sw-01, 33.63 for tcvis-01, and 36.57 for ugnx-01.

The NVIDIA Quadro FX 3700 is a high-end PCIe 16x graphics card that features 512 MB of onboard RAM and is PCIe 2.0 compliant.
The NVIDIA Quadro FX 3700 is a high-end PCIe 16x graphics card that features 512 MB of onboard RAM and is PCIe 2.0 compliant.

All told, these performance numbers are quite good for the Quadro FX 3700, and I anticipate that we'll see even higher numbers with this graphics card as speedy new workstations appear.

The NVIDIA Quadro FX 3700 is currently available with a manufacturer's suggested retail price of $1,599, but a quick Google search yields street prices for the graphics card in the $825–$899 range. As with other professional-level Quadro graphics cards, the FX 3700 is fully supported by NVIDIA, offers accelerated drivers for AutoCAD and Autodesk 3ds Max, and is certified for a wide range of design, digital-content creation, and visualization applications. Highly Recommended.


About the Author: Ron LaFon


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