As stated before, our primary goal was to put the FirePro and Quadro back into machines, in order to keep the high level of productivity within the team. The workstations in question are based on the following chassis. Do bear in mind that all published scores are based on tests done in SilverStone RV01 Raven Case:
Fortress, or FT02 is without any doubt, one of most beautiful cases we have laid our hands on. The quality of the finish is something that original Raven series just missed, and it does offer evolutionary positioning for the motherboard. Given that the motherboard sits at a 90 degree angle, rules of physics apply and the heat naturally flows upwards, without any risk of gaining hotspots on the components inside. The only real problem is that the chassis does not support full sized E-ATX and WTX motherboards, meaning ATX up to 12 inches in height [305mm] is supported.
On the other side, Raven RV01 was the first case that started this trend. The case is bigger than the FT02 and fits full sized eATX motherboards, meaning you can install even dual socket motherboards. This case was developed in cooperation with Maingear Computers, who are using higher-end version of this case for their Shift systems. However, the case has one major advantage over any other case on the market [with the exception of Raven RV02 and Fortress FT02]: thermals flow naturally, and you can count on lower system temperatures, even with dual-socket systems.
In contrast, SuperMicro workstation systems are all about efficiency, instead of looks. This workstations are heavy-duty workhorses that fit dual-socket systems, are capable of supporting multiple hot plug hard drives [in our case, multiple Intel 160GB SSD drives].
Our test systems were as follows:
- SilverStone Raven RV01 [provided by SilverStone]
- Intel Core i7 Extreme 965 3.2 @ 4.0 GHz [provided by Intel]
- ASUS P6T7 SuperComputer [provided by ASUS Computer International]
- 12GB Kingston HyperX DDR3-1600 [3x4GB]
- 4x 160GB Intel SSD
- 2x 600GB Seagate Cheetah 15k7 [provided by Seagate]
- BeQuiet Dark Power PRO 1.2 kW [provided by Listan/BeQuiet!]
- SilverStone Fortress FT02 [provided by Caseking]
- Intel Core i7 Extreme 975 3.33 GHz
- EVGA FTW2 Classified [provided by EVGA Europe]
- 12GB Kingston HyperX DDR4-1600 [provided by Kingston]
- 120GB OCZ Vertex 2 [provided by OCZ Technology]
- 4x 2TB Seagate Constellation ES
- Antec TruPower 1.2 kW [provided by Antec]
- SuperMicro SC747TQ-R1400B
- 2x Intel Xeon E5640, 32nm 4C/8T 2.2GHz
- Supermicro X8DT3-LN4F
- 24GB Samsung DDR3-1066 Reg. ECC
- 4x 160GB Intel SSD
- 2x 1TB Samsung
- Supermicro 1.4 kW Gold Level PSU
As stated above, our tests were made using the SilverStone Raven RV01 case and the appropriate components. Even though it may sound odd that a solidly overclocked system is serving as a workstation in an automotive development studio, the reason for that is quite simple: clock beats multi-threading. In the case of the Siemens NX-7 a.k.a. Unigraphics software, the application simply doesn't care if you have one or sixteen cores running at 2.26GHz - the performance will remain the same. Thus, the only logical choice was to go with a liquid cooled setup for the CPU, and clock it as high as it can go stable. The next upgrade for that system will be an i7-990X CPU, hopefully with a stable 4.5GHz clock. Or perhaps Siemens will discover the wonders of multi-threading and GPGPU acceleration.
The way how we test is quite simple: room is kept at 22 degrees Celsius by a powerful air-conditioner. Idle measurement is taken after 30 minutes of inactivity after load of Windows 7 [3D-accelerated Aero interface is enabled]. After that, we load up MachStudio Pro and leave the GPU render "on" in our test scene. After 30min of rendering, we measure the temperature. Secondly, we leave the board to cool off by leaving the system idle until the original idle temperature is reached, and then start Furmark "Hotter than Hell" Edition. From our experience, even though MachStudio Pro results with somewhat lower temperatures than Furmark, we do believe MachStudio Pro is the better choice, as it is actually working on a real world scene.Prolimatech MK-13 and FirePro V8800: Who needs fans?
AMD FirePro V8800 2GB reached an idle temperature of 36C. By using a "power virus" called FurMark, the V8800 recorded 82C in FurMark. Real-world test didn't lag behind: 77C in MachStudio Pro under 100% load. Given that in the very same case Radeon HD 5870 Eyefinity6 2GB recorded 91C in FurMark and 89C in MachStudio Pro, the temperature difference is impressive. AMD obviously did a great job with cooling down the card, especially given the fact that the GPU is only clocked 25MHz less than the desktop part. 25MHz less for 9C difference in FurMark is not an easy task to accomplish.
By using Prolimatech MK-13 with two 120mm Scythe S-Flex fans, the temperature dipped to 74C in FurMark and only 62C in MachStudio Pro. The interesting bit was that MK-13 with S-Flex fans only reaches 24C at idle - meaning that the GPU warmed by only two degrees when compared to the air temperature. Given the environment [closed case, 4.0GHz CPU sitting right next to it], we expected much more.
Given the performance, and the fact that there were two 180mm fans blowing straight onto the graphics card, we removed the fans and left the board passively cooled. The temperature rose to 85C in FurMark and 79C in MachStudio Pro, with idle temperature being 41C.Prolimatech MK-13 and Quadro FX 4800: Who needs fans, part deux
Given that the fan was broken, we did not measure the Quadro CX, but rather tested the FX 4800 board with stock cooling and later, with the MK-13 heatsink.
By using default cooling, Quadro FX 4800 is not exactly a "hot board". The card idles at only 30C, with Furmark going up to 74C, but not a single degree more. Then again, it's not that 0.6/1.2GHz clock [compare that to 0.64/1.47GHz for stock GTX 285, or EVGA's 0.7/1.58GHz] can heat up the heatsink that was built to cool down a GTX 285. Temperature in MachStudio Pro only reached 65C, but given that FX 4800 doesn't support Tessellation we're not surprised at such a difference. AMD FirePro had to handle the Tessellation aspect.
Going from stock cooling to MK-13+Scythe, we experienced an idle temperature of only 24C, identical to one achieved by FirePro V8800. FX 4800 survived FurMark heating to only 62C, i.e. 12 degrees less than with stock cooling, while MachStudio Pro Render Test reached 56C. As you might expect, we removed the two Scythe fans and checked how the board performs while living on a subtle breeze from the lower fans only.
The results? 29C in idle mode, i.e. one degree less than with stock cooling, and five more than with fans. When the difference is as such, you might ask yourself why even bother and lose time with putting those fans on? The confirmation came with our full load test. Furmark? 70 degrees Celsius. MachStudio Pro? 62 degrees Celsius.Experience
Thus, there was no doubt in our minds - after testing, V8800 kept the MK-13 heatsink and now, several weeks after testing has completed - the board still happily runs MK-13 with no additional fans.
Given that we only received one Prolimatech MK-13, and after seeing the test results achieved on both boards, we went out and purchased additional MK-13 heatsinks to cool down our FirePro V7800 and Quadro FX 4800 boards, and now have four passively cooled professional GPUs.
We'd say Prolimatech actually experienced direct benefit, as all of our future purchases will now include a requirement for ultra-silent workstation - passive cooling for the GPU and mandatory liquid cooling [or passive cooling] for the CPU. Unfortunately, no company manufactures liquid blocks for the Quadro and FirePro, and we think its a missed opportunity.
Now, Prolimatech MK-13 isn't without sin. First and foremost, it is absolutely unacceptable that the company used low-quality TIM on DRAM heatsinks, two of which actually fell from the V8800. Interestingly enough, Quadro CX and FX 4800 did not experience such a drop. The only difference between Quadro and FirePro is the memory type [GDDR3 on Quadro and GDDR5 on FirePro], thus we feel it might be that FirePro isn't warming the memory enough and that the bond simply gives away after a while. Just in case, we replaced the DRAM heatsink bond material with an after-market purchase
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