Currently, MachStudio Pro is selling for $4,999 and it includes the software and one AMD FirePro V8750 2GB. Just a few days ago, StudioGPU started to offer the board-less free version for a $1000 discount i.e. $3,999. Given that the board itself e-tails for $1,450, getting the board and the software together saves you $450. Then again, if you're using nVidia Quadro products or want to stay with the already acquired hardware, this $1000 will be a welcoming change.
There is also student version available for $999 and it too includes a professional graphics card - ATI FireGL V8650 2GB. In our view, this is quite a good value. Even though V8650 is based off Radeon 2900XT GPU, the optimized drivers and more importantly, support for tessellation could be a very good learning tool.
When it comes to the current package itself, we felt quite positive at the amount of updates and new features that StudioGPU is putting out. We've been working on this review for quite some time now [since October] and after two months of evaluation the amount of newly-included features and effort put forth by StudioGPU employees [regular webinars, feature updates] is confirming to us that the company is hard at work to keep your business.
A lot of our feedback in this review will be addressed in future versions and the MSP purchasing price includes updates for 12 months after the purchase, which means you should be able to get the DirectX 11 accelerated version of the MSP once it gets released. On AMD's Evergreen launch on USS Hornet, Yoni demonstrated what is coming next and we can't wait to get our hands on commercial DirectX 11 hardware and MachStudio Pro 2. Conclusion
In a nutshell, MachStudio Pro as a renderer is extremely useful. We don't see it being used in a major film production just yet but we do believe it can boost your productivity in broadcasting and arch viz for sure, given that very little postproduction work is needed. The bundled AMD card is maybe overkill if you render the scenes in Standard Definition PAL/NTSC resolution, given the amount of cores on CPUs of today. But for HD, there are tangible benefits.
Once that Material Editor comes of age, when subd handles better and naturally, when Global Illumination gets full implementation - this will be the real deal. We would suggest that StudioGPU takes a look and copies Crysis glossy reflections and Global Illumination as such and then this will be one mean production tool. The version without the board should be worth your time to start evaluating and adjusting yourself to the MSP, especially in the light of DirectX 11 hardware coming in 2010 and the further MachStudio Pro updates. To answer the title of this review, the answer is yes for everything sans photo-realism. That might change in 2010 already…
Given the level of innovation in this application, we see no other but to award MachStudio Pro with our Workstation Innovation Award.
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