A good GPU for a CAD workstation needs good 3D performance, multiple displays at high resolutions, and a flexible form-factor. Looks like the FirePro W4300 delivers the goods.
If your CAD workstation runs SolidWorks, Inventor, or a similar modeling application, then you will be looking for a well-made GPU that performs well and delivers enough of the right extra features that you need. And the price should not break the bank.
Have a look at the AMD FirePro W4300. It is a professional GPU that has a street price just under $300. It is a half-height graphics board, so it fits in small form-factor workstations like the HP Z240 as well as mini-tower and larger workstations. The four 4K resolution miniDisplayPort outputs are more display options than 99.9% of you are going to need. And the 3D performance should be a perfect match for any full-time 3D modeling workstation.
For improved CAD productivity, a workstation needs two or more high-resolution displays. With four miniDisplayPort outputs, the FirePro W4300 can run four displays with each using a 4K, 3840x2160 pixel resolution (image: author)
You can find the full product specification from AMD. Here are some of the key points.
- Performance: PW will have a complete performance profile in our full review. It suffices to say that AMD's Bonaire GPU with 2 billion transistors will crank out graphics fast enough to keep SolidWorks or Inventor busy trying to feed the GPU.
- The on-board memory of 4GB is more than enough to handle 3D modeling workloads.
- A half-height form-factor makes the FirePro W4300 a great performing GPU for a SFF CAD workstation.
- The four miniDisplayPort outputs means you can configure your workstation with 2, 3, or 4 displays to increase productivity.
- Support for the major application APIs are available: OpenGL and DirectX for graphics, OpenCL for GPU computing.
- AMD's Eyefinity software makes it simple to configure and adjust multiple displays.
- A three-year product lifecycle means IT departments can keep a stable workstation configuration for design teams.
The PW Perspective
This class of GPU from AMD completes head-to-head with the NVIDIA Quadro K1200 (see: How fast is the Quadro K1200?). The NVIDIA product is also a half-height board with 4 GB of graphics memory and four miniDisplayPort outputs which has a street price close to $300. That matches the AMD FirePro W4300 point for point. The product specification, 3D performance, and board features are a great match for CAD workstations.