What is the cost of professional graphics performance? PW takes a look at NVIDIA's Quadro P2000 and Quadro P4000 performance to tell you which GPU you need.

2017 has seen the production of the mid-range Quadro P2000 and the high-end Quadro P4000. Differences in power, performance, form-factor & price can definitely make one or the other a better choice for your professional workstation.

Specifications for the Quadro P2000 & P4000

The new Quadro P2000 & P4000 use NVIDIA's Pascal GPU Architecture & deliver excellent performance

There is more than 400€ separating these two boards. Where the Quadro P2000 falls into NVIDIA's definition of mid-range, the Quadro P4000 is classified as high-end. Note that the dual-slot boards, the Quadro P5000 and P6000 are placed into the superlative "ultra-high-end" category. (See: The fastest NVIDIA GPU ever: the new Pascal-based Quadro P6000

Both the P2000 & P4000 are full height boards with the Quadro P4000 being somewhat longer.  The P4000's larger chip provides more graphics cores for processing. The board has 8 GB of graphics memory and faster memory bandwidth. All of which requires more power. The Quadro P2000 draws a maximum of 75W requiring no additional power. The Quadro P4000 draws a maximum of 105W and requires additional power plugged into the back of the board. 

Comparing Quadro P2000 & Quadro P4000 performance 

Performance testing includes Viewperf 12 for graphics performance and Adobe Premiere Pro for computing & application performance.   Viewperf 12 uses datasets from the software vendors, however the test does not use the applications directly. Viewperf isolates the graphics performance which makes it a good test for comparing performance for these two GPUs.

 

The Quadro P4000 outperforms the Quadro P2000 across all the test results. One group of Viewperf datasets run 60% faster. Another group run 30%-40% faster. One single dataset is 22% faster. 

Adobe Premier Pro is a professional non-linear editing application used in professional film & video. Premier Pro uses a software component called the Mercury Playback Engine (MPE) for the real-time playback of the video composition in Premier Pro. It also uses the MPE for rendering the final output of your video composition. Fortunately for video professionals, the MPE can use GPU acceleration. GPU acceleration is provided by using CUDA or OpenCL. Software-only MPE output only uses the CPU. 

Our testing uses clips in the DNxHR/DNxHD format. This format, like ProRes, is designed for editing. For  anything more than the most simple video compositing, using editing-friendly compression such as DNxHD or ProRes makes your editing much smoother. (RedSharkNews has a good article on why you should use DNxHR) Whether your system uses GPU accelerated or software-only MPE, editing will be more efficient. And that efficiency plays into the hands of GPU-accelerated editing. Yes, software-only MPE rendering is also faster, but combining DNxHR with GPU-acceleration delivers a five-fold increase in rendering performance compared to using this same format with software-only rendering. 

We normalize the Premier Pro results to make them comparable and useful across different test-cases. The rendering times are expressed as a percentage of the video duration. If the video output requires more time that the length of the video to render, then the result is greater than 100%. If the video output renders in less time that the length of the video itself, then the result is less than 100%.

The test cases are HD resolution: 1920x1080. With the new Pascal GPU architecture, the video rendering performance is excellent for both GPUs. You can see that the rendering times are essentially identical. On the other hand, the Quadro P2000 GPU is more heavily loaded than the P4000 in our tests. In the Music Video test, for example, the Quadro P2000 workload is nearly 100% and the Quadro P4000 is 70% or less. One implication is that we need to update the video test data to a 4K workflow in order to more accurately represent a modern workflow and to better test faster GPUs. And while both GPUs are good choices for professional video work today, a second implication is that the Quadro P4000 has more headroom for future projects. 

Summarizing the performance results and what that means for your workstation, if your work is 3D CAD & modeling, then the Quadro P2000 is going to make you very happy.  If you spend a lot of time on video-editing with moderate to complex video sequences, then you will be happier to have a Quadro P4000 in your desktop workstation. 

VR Ready or not

The line between VR and no VR lies somewhere between these two GPUs. The demands of VR - high level of graphics realism, 90 frames per second for each eye,  and a good level of detail - means that the NVIDIA Quadro P4000 is the "entry-level' GPU for good virtual reality.  NVIDIA provides the Quadro P4000 with the "VR Ready" marketing label.  

The Quadro P4000 has the performance necessary to be "VR Ready"

That is a marketing label with meaning. Running basic VR tests places a constant 50% workload on the Quadro P4000 GPU. Trying to run the same virtual reality applications on the Quadro P2000 - while they would work - could be painfully frustrating for the user.  

Our testing with the HTC VIVE Business Edition ran smoothly with the Quadro P4000. HTC has a complete and well-implemented introduction. It is stating the obvious to say that the installation of, calibration of and then introduction to an entire virtual reality environment is more demanding than the installation of a single application. HTC walks the user through a thorough introduction to the hardware and its configuration. The HTC tutorial uses a simple but fun VR environment to make the user familiar with the hardware and the VR environment. Finally, the application portals for the VIVE and SteamVR give the user the occasion to try a range of VR applications immediately. The Business Edition includes 2 controllers which enhances the possibilities for a useful user interface in a virtual reality environment.

 

 The PW Perspective

NVIDIA has been in this business for a while, so it is no surprise that the Quadro P2000 fits very nicely into the mid-range category. It is remarkably capable for 3D design, CAD, and modeling. The Quadro P2000 can handle nearly any desktop application that has a reasonably high-end rendering.  

The Quadro P4000 fits perfectly into the $1000 high-end professional GPU. The features & performance of the board make the P4000 a nice high-end board for complex video, high-end rendering, and virtual reality - without breaking the bank. 

Feature

Quadro P2000

Quadro P4000

GPU Version GP106

GP104

GPU Size

4.4 billion transistors 7.2 billion transistors

CUDA Cores

1024 1792

GPU Memory

5 GB GDDR5

8 GB GDDR5

 VR Ready

No Yes

Max Power

75 W 105 W

 Memory Bandwidth

140 GB/s 243 GB/s

 Display Output

4x DisplayPort 1.4  4x DisplayPort 1.4

 

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