NVIDIA’s Quadro 4000 for Mac, more affordable speed for the right application

The Editblog on PVC by Scott Simmons

Cheaper and smaller than the Quadro FX 4800, the 4000 can greatly compliment the right application.

It’s been several months since NVIDIA released their newest graphics card for the Macintosh. The Quadro 4000 for Mac uses their newest GPU architecture called Fermi. This card packs a whopping 256 cores onto a card that is half the physical size of the older Quadro FX 4800 (it had only 192 CUDA cores, the slacker). The other bit of news is that the 4000 has a smaller price than the FX 4800 had, coming in at just over $700 (street price) from an Amazon search. On top of all that there’s quite a few applications out there that are taking advantage of NVIDIA’s CUDA technology that lets apps harness all this GPU power. Read on for a look at several post-production tools and how they work with the 4000.

I received one of the Quadro 4000’s on loan from NVIDIA not long after the card shipped. As I had mentioned in a previous article on the FX 4800 I don’t really understand all this talk of cores and benchmaking and what benefit “GPU Tessellation with Shader Model 5.0” might have. I just want to know how all this GPU power can be harnessed to get my work done fast and better. Coincidentally there’s the usually long and detailed review of the Quadro 4000 for Mac that Ars Technica posted a few days ago. There you can find the standard benchmarking tests using 3D, CAD, gaming apps and lots of little fuel gauge bars. There’s also discussion of the overall implementation of OpenCL and the current driver situation on the Mac. There’s a little bit of discussion on the video post apps we use so if you’re considering this card definitely give the Ars review a read.

I’ll expand on the expansive Ars review by saying that I have not experienced a single kernel panic during my months using the card. I’m running only a single 30-inch cinema display so I can’t comment on the card resyncing dual displays. There’s some good reading in the comments of the Ars article too btw, if you can get past the section where the comments devolved into the usual Mac vs. PC debate. read more...

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