Notebookcheck

Graphics Cards for Pros

What they are capable of and who needs them. In the following editorial we will take a closer look at the pro cards à la Quadro and FireGL, which are usually built into mobile workstations and professional notebooks. These are supposed to be especially efficient in connection with professional applications based on OpenGL.

Professional GPUs - FireGL & Quadro

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What is OpenGL?

OpenGL is a 3D programming interface that could be seen as a competitor for Microsoft's DirectX. It is developed by the Khronos Group, works independent of the platform and it renders complex 3D scenes in real-time. The current version of Open GL is 4.5.

AMD's current line-up AMD FirePro W7170M, W5170M and W5130M currently supports DirectX 12, OpenCL 1.2 and OpenGL 4.3.

Nvidia's Quadro M600M, M1000M, M2000M, M3000M, M4000M and M5000M already support Open GL 4.5 (but they still have to pass the Khronos tests).

Advantages of OpenGL

Lenovo ThinkPad W550s
Lenovo ThinkPad W550s
HP ZBook 15
HP ZBook 15
ASUSPRO PU551JH
ASUSPRO PU551JH

1. Driver development/ driver support

According to manufacturers, the driver development for professional graphics cards is subject to special considerations in terms of quality, stability and reliability. You can also get special performance drivers or specifically certified versions depending on the software and hardware. Those ensure the perfect combination of hardware and software in productive professional environments and therefore reduce outages and waiting times.

2. Extendibility

Graphics card manufacturers have the possibility to extend the interface with further functions. Special commands can be executed directly, instead of having to take a detour over an emulator with this (very important in the CAD field). This influences the functionality, velocity and stability.

3. Platform independency

OpenGL is independent of platform and programming language. Hence, it's simple to convert for various systems. OpenGL is, for instance, a part of MS Windows, MacOS, Linux, Solaris, and many more.

Due to this advantage, OpenGL is mainly found in the professional field of Windows. In opposition, the opponent dominates the computer-gaming division in which OpenGL only plays a subordinate role. OpenGL is primarily used in various game consoles (Xbox 360, PlayStation 2/3) and in MacOS game software in the gaming field.

Differences

Toshiba Tecra W50
Toshiba Tecra W50
Dell Precision M3800
Dell Precision M3800

What is the difference between professional graphics cards and the common consumer versions?

The professional chips are basically closely related to their corresponding consumer chips from the GeForce and Radeon series. The clocks, memory sizes and versions usually just slightly differ from the mass products. A good comparability is provided by our comprehensive GPU benchmark list, which also lists the most important specifications. How well do the professional chips perform in games? That is visible in our gaming benchmark list.

The actual difference is therefore the special orientation. Thanks to a modified BIOS and optimized drivers, the professional versions are designed towards OpenGL and high performance. The BIOS driver combination also ensures that you cannot use the optimized drivers on the regular and significantly cheaper GeForce and Radeon chips. In return, the drivers are extensively tested for compatibility to common OpenGL applications and are also certified accordingly. A list with some of the tested applications is at the end of this article. Those certifications come at a price and make a significant part of the big additional charge. Another part is a result of the extended support by the manufacturer as well as the guaranteed support for parts.

Performance

Bullman E-Klasse
Bullman E-Klasse
Fujitsu Celsius H730
Fujitsu Celsius H730
HP ZBook 14
HP ZBook 14

All those measures result in significant performance gains as well as an optimized stability and reliability compared to their corresponding consumer versions in optimized OpenGL applications. The DirectX functions can be preserved and are not restricted anymore, which was still the case a couple of years ago.

All in all, this means that even apparently weak professional chips can sometimes beat powerful gaming chips in optimized OpenGL applications. The DirectX performance, on the other hand, is just comparable to the corresponding consumer chips, where the raw hardware performance counts. We also included some consumer chips in the following benchmarks for a better comparison.

One note about the benchmarks: The listed benchmarks cover different application scenarios. Depending on the software, the tests either use the OpenGL, OpenCL or DirectX interface, which are listed individually.  

If you look at the results, you should note that the listed values are just the test results of certain configurations in combination with the corresponding driver version. They should only be seen as an indicator. The results can be, besides the GPU, influenced by the CPU, the storage device, RAM and display resolution. There are also variations between the different test runs. The performance is usually limited on battery power. Newer driver versions can either provide better results or improve the stability, which can affect the performance.

SPECviewperf 11 & 12

We use the benchmarks SPECviewperf 11 and 12 to determine the performance in professional 3D scenarios. It covers the sectors CAD, 3D design, 3D visualization, oil and gas exploration as well as a medical MRT.

SPECviewperf 11
1920x1080 Siemens NX (sort by value)
HP ZBook 17 E9X11AA-ABA
21.28 fps ∼19%
Asus PU551JH
23.39 fps ∼21%
Fujitsu Celsius H730
23.1 fps ∼21%
Toshiba Tecra W50-A-104
31.33 fps ∼28%
Bullman E-Klasse 5
39 fps ∼35%
MSI WT72-2OL32SR311BW
45 fps ∼40%
HP ZBook 14
21.28 fps ∼19%
Dell Precision M2800
25.04 fps ∼22%
HP ZBook 15 G2
26.63 fps ∼24%
HP ZBook 17 G2 J8Z55ET
47.84 fps ∼43%
Acer Aspire VN7-791G-79GT
5.09 fps ∼5%
Schenker W504
7.42 fps ∼7%
Eurocom Panther 5
8.5 fps ∼8%
1920x1080 Tcvis (sort by value)
HP ZBook 17 E9X11AA-ABA
25.26 fps ∼42%
Asus PU551JH
27.27 fps ∼46%
Fujitsu Celsius H730
27.3 fps ∼46%
Toshiba Tecra W50-A-104
34.82 fps ∼58%
Bullman E-Klasse 5
42 fps ∼70%
MSI WT72-2OL32SR311BW
50 fps ∼84%
Eurocom Panther 5D
50.28 fps ∼84%
HP ZBook 14
13.56 fps ∼23%
Dell Precision M2800
9.81 fps ∼16%
HP ZBook 15 G2
21.43 fps ∼36%
HP ZBook 17 G2 J8Z55ET
28.37 fps ∼48%
Acer Aspire VN7-791G-79GT
1.68 fps ∼3%
Schenker W504
2.28 fps ∼4%
Eurocom Panther 5
2.3 fps ∼4%
1920x1080 SolidWorks (sort by value)
HP ZBook 17 E9X11AA-ABA
36.1 fps ∼49%
Asus PU551JH
36.55 fps ∼49%
Fujitsu Celsius H730
38.2 fps ∼52%
Toshiba Tecra W50-A-104
44.64 fps ∼60%
Bullman E-Klasse 5
52 fps ∼70%
MSI WT72-2OL32SR311BW
54 fps ∼73%
Eurocom Panther 5D
58.12 fps ∼79%
HP ZBook 14
37.88 fps ∼51%
Dell Precision M2800
47.75 fps ∼65%
HP ZBook 15 G2
56.14 fps ∼76%
HP ZBook 17 G2 J8Z55ET
68.72 fps ∼93%
Acer Aspire VN7-791G-79GT
11.69 fps ∼16%
Schenker W504
15.41 fps ∼21%
Eurocom Panther 5
16.2 fps ∼22%
1920x1080 Pro/ENGINEER (sort by value)
HP ZBook 17 E9X11AA-ABA
15.9 fps ∼66%
Asus PU551JH
12.9 fps ∼54%
Fujitsu Celsius H730
17.3 fps ∼72%
Toshiba Tecra W50-A-104
18.79 fps ∼78%
Bullman E-Klasse 5
21 fps ∼88%
MSI WT72-2OL32SR311BW
24 fps ∼100%
Eurocom Panther 5D
11.01 fps ∼46%
HP ZBook 14
8.87 fps ∼37%
Dell Precision M2800
11 fps ∼46%
HP ZBook 15 G2
10.64 fps ∼44%
HP ZBook 17 G2 J8Z55ET
10.66 fps ∼44%
Acer Aspire VN7-791G-79GT
2.37 fps ∼10%
Schenker W504
2.41 fps ∼10%
Eurocom Panther 5
2.1 fps ∼9%
1920x1080 Maya (sort by value)
HP ZBook 17 E9X11AA-ABA
35.14 fps ∼28%
Asus PU551JH
45.88 fps ∼37%
Fujitsu Celsius H730
46.6 fps ∼38%
Toshiba Tecra W50-A-104
53.3 fps ∼43%
Bullman E-Klasse 5
55 fps ∼44%
MSI WT72-2OL32SR311BW
58 fps ∼47%
Eurocom Panther 5D
83.65 fps ∼67%
HP ZBook 14
37.65 fps ∼30%
Dell Precision M2800
68.39 fps ∼55%
HP ZBook 15 G2
60.34 fps ∼49%
HP ZBook 17 G2 J8Z55ET
99.72 fps ∼80%
Acer Aspire VN7-791G-79GT
15.58 fps ∼13%
Schenker W504
19.02 fps ∼15%
Eurocom Panther 5
13.6 fps ∼11%
1920x1080 Lightwave (sort by value)
HP ZBook 17 E9X11AA-ABA
49.84 fps ∼59%
Asus PU551JH
45.89 fps ∼55%
Fujitsu Celsius H730
50 fps ∼60%
Toshiba Tecra W50-A-104
50.61 fps ∼60%
Bullman E-Klasse 5
56 fps ∼67%
MSI WT72-2OL32SR311BW
53 fps ∼63%
Eurocom Panther 5D
66.72 fps ∼79%
HP ZBook 14
48.54 fps ∼58%
Dell Precision M2800
71.61 fps ∼85%
HP ZBook 15 G2
75.79 fps ∼90%
HP ZBook 17 G2 J8Z55ET
77.78 fps ∼93%
Acer Aspire VN7-791G-79GT
21.45 fps ∼26%
Schenker W504
20.71 fps ∼25%
Eurocom Panther 5
19.6 fps ∼23%
1920x1080 Ensight (sort by value)
HP ZBook 17 E9X11AA-ABA
17.02 fps ∼10%
Asus PU551JH
17.21 fps ∼10%
Fujitsu Celsius H730
17.4 fps ∼10%
Toshiba Tecra W50-A-104
28.26 fps ∼17%
Bullman E-Klasse 5
39 fps ∼23%
MSI WT72-2OL32SR311BW
52 fps ∼30%
Eurocom Panther 5D
80.47 fps ∼47%
HP ZBook 14
11.29 fps ∼7%
Dell Precision M2800
19.94 fps ∼12%
HP ZBook 15 G2
25.07 fps ∼15%
HP ZBook 17 G2 J8Z55ET
55.74 fps ∼33%
Acer Aspire VN7-791G-79GT
34.27 fps ∼20%
Schenker W504
51.07 fps ∼30%
Eurocom Panther 5
100 fps ∼58%
1920x1080 Catia (sort by value)
HP ZBook 17 E9X11AA-ABA
28.32 fps ∼34%
Asus PU551JH
32.22 fps ∼39%
Fujitsu Celsius H730
34.5 fps ∼42%
Toshiba Tecra W50-A-104
42.66 fps ∼52%
Bullman E-Klasse 5
47 fps ∼57%
MSI WT72-2OL32SR311BW
57 fps ∼69%
Eurocom Panther 5D
63.92 fps ∼78%
HP ZBook 14
25.05 fps ∼30%
Dell Precision M2800
26.24 fps ∼32%
HP ZBook 15 G2
35.61 fps ∼43%
HP ZBook 17 G2 J8Z55ET
49.28 fps ∼60%
Acer Aspire VN7-791G-79GT
15.82 fps ∼19%
Schenker W504
18.7 fps ∼23%
Eurocom Panther 5
18 fps ∼22%

Legend

 
HP ZBook 17 E9X11AA-ABA Intel Core i7-4900MQ, NVIDIA Quadro K610M, Micron RealSSD C400 MTFDDAK128MAM
 
Asus PU551JH Intel Core i5-4210M, NVIDIA Quadro K1100M, Hitachi Travelstar Z7K500 HTS725050A7E630
 
Fujitsu Celsius H730 Intel Core i7-4710MQ, NVIDIA Quadro K1100M, Samsung SSD PM851 256 GB MZ7TE256HMHP
 
Toshiba Tecra W50-A-104 Intel Core i7-4800MQ, NVIDIA Quadro K2100M, Toshiba MQ01ABD100
 
Bullman E-Klasse 5 Intel Core i7-4790K, NVIDIA Quadro K3100M, Samsung SSD SM951 256GB MZHPV256HDGL
 
MSI WT72-2OL32SR311BW Intel Core i7-4980HQ, NVIDIA Quadro K4100M, 4x Toshiba HG6 THNSNJ256G8NU (RAID 0)
 
Eurocom Panther 5D Intel Xeon E5-2697 v2, NVIDIA Quadro K5100M, Crucial M500 120 GB CT120M500SSD3
 
HP ZBook 14 Intel Core i7-4600U, AMD FirePro M4100, Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256GB MZ7PD256HAFV-0Z000
 
Dell Precision M2800 Intel Core i7-4810MQ, AMD FirePro W4170M, SK hynix SH920
 
HP ZBook 15 G2 Intel Core i7-4910MQ, AMD FirePro M5100, SanDisk A110 SD6PP4M-256G-1006
 
HP ZBook 17 G2 J8Z55ET Intel Core i7-4710MQ, AMD FirePro M6100, HGST Travelstar 7K1000 HTS721075A9E630
 
Acer Aspire VN7-791G-79GT Intel Core i7-4720HQ, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M, Kingston RBU-SNS8100S3256GD
 
Schenker W504 Intel Core i7-4700MQ, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M,
 
Eurocom Panther 5 Intel Core i7-4960X, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M SLI,
SPECviewperf 12
1900x1060 Solidworks (sw-03) (sort by value)
Lenovo ThinkPad W550s 20E2-000PGE
33.02 fps ∼23%
Asus PU551JH
24.72 fps ∼17%
Toshiba Tecra W50-A-104
36.02 fps ∼25%
Bullman E-Klasse 5
62 fps ∼43%
MSI WT72-2OL32SR311BW
83 fps ∼58%
Eurocom Panther 5D
34.81 fps ∼24%
HP ZBook 14
24.59 fps ∼17%
Dell Precision M2800
37.52 fps ∼26%
HP ZBook 15 G2
39.72 fps ∼28%
HP ZBook 17 G2 J8Z55ET
66.53 fps ∼46%
Schenker XMG A505
24.99 fps ∼17%
Alienware 15
33.59 fps ∼23%
MSI GT80-2QES32SR311BW
42.21 fps ∼29%
1900x1060 Siemens NX (snx-02) (sort by value)
Lenovo ThinkPad W550s 20E2-000PGE
17.1 fps ∼13%
Asus PU551JH
15.31 fps ∼12%
Toshiba Tecra W50-A-104
20.86 fps ∼16%
Bullman E-Klasse 5
32 fps ∼25%
MSI WT72-2OL32SR311BW
45 fps ∼35%
Eurocom Panther 5D
85.3 fps ∼67%
HP ZBook 14
16.58 fps ∼13%
Dell Precision M2800
23.52 fps ∼18%
HP ZBook 15 G2
29.69 fps ∼23%
HP ZBook 17 G2 J8Z55ET
50.73 fps ∼40%
Schenker XMG A505
2.49 fps ∼2%
Alienware 15
4.03 fps ∼3%
MSI GT80-2QES32SR311BW
4.89 fps ∼4%
1900x1060 Showcase (showcase-01) (sort by value)
Lenovo ThinkPad W550s 20E2-000PGE
6.32 fps ∼5%
Asus PU551JH
8.66 fps ∼7%
Toshiba Tecra W50-A-104
10 fps ∼8%
Bullman E-Klasse 5
19 fps ∼15%
MSI WT72-2OL32SR311BW
23 fps ∼18%
Eurocom Panther 5D
27 fps ∼21%
HP ZBook 14
3.93 fps ∼3%
Dell Precision M2800
12.75 fps ∼10%
HP ZBook 15 G2
16.36 fps ∼13%
HP ZBook 17 G2 J8Z55ET
26.31 fps ∼21%
Schenker XMG A505
23.5 fps ∼19%
Alienware 15
34.49 fps ∼27%
MSI GT80-2QES32SR311BW
45.37 fps ∼36%
1900x1060 Medical (medical-01) (sort by value)
Lenovo ThinkPad W550s 20E2-000PGE
7.05 fps ∼12%
Asus PU551JH
4.15 fps ∼7%
Toshiba Tecra W50-A-104
5.88 fps ∼10%
Bullman E-Klasse 5
10 fps ∼17%
MSI WT72-2OL32SR311BW
14 fps ∼23%
Eurocom Panther 5D
13.26 fps ∼22%
HP ZBook 14
0.99 fps ∼2%
Dell Precision M2800
5.84 fps ∼10%
HP ZBook 15 G2
7.82 fps ∼13%
HP ZBook 17 G2 J8Z55ET
16.27 fps ∼27%
Schenker XMG A505
14.4 fps ∼24%
Alienware 15
21.18 fps ∼35%
MSI GT80-2QES32SR311BW
22.37 fps ∼37%
1900x1060 Maya (maya-04) (sort by value)
Lenovo ThinkPad W550s 20E2-000PGE
12.03 fps ∼7%
Asus PU551JH
14 fps ∼9%
Toshiba Tecra W50-A-104
18.1 fps ∼11%
Bullman E-Klasse 5
28 fps ∼17%
MSI WT72-2OL32SR311BW
39 fps ∼24%
Eurocom Panther 5D
40.91 fps ∼25%
HP ZBook 14
5.4 fps ∼3%
Dell Precision M2800
22.75 fps ∼14%
HP ZBook 15 G2
24.92 fps ∼15%
HP ZBook 17 G2 J8Z55ET
39.17 fps ∼24%
Schenker XMG A505
34.03 fps ∼21%
Alienware 15
47.59 fps ∼29%
MSI GT80-2QES32SR311BW
80.48 fps ∼49%
1900x1060 Energy (energy-01) (sort by value)
Lenovo ThinkPad W550s 20E2-000PGE
0.38 fps ∼1%
Asus PU551JH
0.31 fps ∼1%
Toshiba Tecra W50-A-104
0.34 fps ∼1%
Bullman E-Klasse 5
2.1 fps ∼4%
MSI WT72-2OL32SR311BW
2.12 fps ∼4%
Eurocom Panther 5D
1.76 fps ∼3%
HP ZBook 14
0.06 fps ∼0%
Dell Precision M2800
0.35 fps ∼1%
HP ZBook 15 G2
0.44 fps ∼1%
HP ZBook 17 G2 J8Z55ET
0.59 fps ∼1%
Schenker XMG A505
0.73 fps ∼1%
Alienware 15
1.02 fps ∼2%
MSI GT80-2QES32SR311BW
2.05 fps ∼4%
1900x1060 Creo (creo-01) (sort by value)
Lenovo ThinkPad W550s 20E2-000PGE
16.28 fps ∼15%
Asus PU551JH
15.59 fps ∼14%
Toshiba Tecra W50-A-104
20.47 fps ∼19%
Bullman E-Klasse 5
29 fps ∼26%
MSI WT72-2OL32SR311BW
38 fps ∼35%
Eurocom Panther 5D
37.95 fps ∼35%
HP ZBook 14
13.97 fps ∼13%
Dell Precision M2800
18.8 fps ∼17%
HP ZBook 15 G2
19.64 fps ∼18%
HP ZBook 17 G2 J8Z55ET
42.61 fps ∼39%
Schenker XMG A505
12.78 fps ∼12%
Alienware 15
22.11 fps ∼20%
MSI GT80-2QES32SR311BW
27.55 fps ∼25%
1900x1060 Catia (catia-04) (sort by value)
Lenovo ThinkPad W550s 20E2-000PGE
18.72 fps ∼14%
Asus PU551JH
15.48 fps ∼11%
Toshiba Tecra W50-A-104
20.81 fps ∼15%
Bullman E-Klasse 5
33 fps ∼24%
MSI WT72-2OL32SR311BW
48 fps ∼35%
Eurocom Panther 5D
55.32 fps ∼40%
HP ZBook 14
13.43 fps ∼10%
Dell Precision M2800
19.33 fps ∼14%
HP ZBook 15 G2
23.62 fps ∼17%
HP ZBook 17 G2 J8Z55ET
44.02 fps ∼32%
Schenker XMG A505
17.84 fps ∼13%
Alienware 15
30.1 fps ∼22%
MSI GT80-2QES32SR311BW
39.84 fps ∼29%

Legend

 
HP ZBook 17 E9X11AA-ABA Intel Core i7-4900MQ, NVIDIA Quadro K610M, Micron RealSSD C400 MTFDDAK128MAM
 
Lenovo ThinkPad W550s 20E2-000PGE Intel Core i7-5500U, NVIDIA Quadro K620M, Samsung SSD PM851 512 GB MZ7TE512HMHP
 
Asus PU551JH Intel Core i5-4210M, NVIDIA Quadro K1100M, Hitachi Travelstar Z7K500 HTS725050A7E630
 
Toshiba Tecra W50-A-104 Intel Core i7-4800MQ, NVIDIA Quadro K2100M, Toshiba MQ01ABD100
 
Bullman E-Klasse 5 Intel Core i7-4790K, NVIDIA Quadro K3100M, Samsung SSD SM951 256GB MZHPV256HDGL
 
MSI WT72-2OL32SR311BW Intel Core i7-4980HQ, NVIDIA Quadro K4100M, 4x Toshiba HG6 THNSNJ256G8NU (RAID 0)
 
Eurocom Panther 5D Intel Xeon E5-2697 v2, NVIDIA Quadro K5100M, Crucial M500 120 GB CT120M500SSD3
 
HP ZBook 14 Intel Core i7-4600U, AMD FirePro M4100, Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256GB MZ7PD256HAFV-0Z000
 
Dell Precision M2800 Intel Core i7-4810MQ, AMD FirePro W4170M, SK hynix SH920
 
HP ZBook 15 G2 Intel Core i7-4910MQ, AMD FirePro M5100, SanDisk A110 SD6PP4M-256G-1006
 
HP ZBook 17 G2 J8Z55ET Intel Core i7-4710MQ, AMD FirePro M6100, HGST Travelstar 7K1000 HTS721075A9E630
 
Schenker XMG A505 Intel Core i7-4720HQ, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M, Micron M600 MTFDDAV256MBF M.2
 
Alienware 15 Intel Core i7-4710HQ, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M, Samsung SSD PM851 M.2 2280 128GB
 
MSI GT80-2QES32SR311BW Intel Core i7-4980HQ, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M SLI, 4x Toshiba HG6 THNSNJ256G8NU (RAID 0)

DirectX

We cover the DirectX range with the familiar benchmarks 3DMark and Unigine Heaven. We already mentioned that the results depend on the raw hardware performance, since the driver optimizations for OpenGL applications have no effect. Unigine Heaven also allows a comparison with the OpenGL interface, which can also be used in the benchmark.

3DMark
1920x1080 Fire Strike Graphics (sort by value)
HP ZBook 17 E9X11AA-ABA
759 Points ∼2%
Lenovo ThinkPad W550s 20E2-000PGE
1621 Points ∼4%
Asus PU551JH
1347 Points ∼3%
Toshiba Tecra W50-A-104
1606 Points ∼4%
Bullman E-Klasse 5
2855 Points ∼7%
Eurocom Panther 5D
4759 Points ∼12%
HP ZBook 14
857 Points ∼2%
Dell Precision M2800
1766 Points ∼5%
HP ZBook 15 G2
2358 Points ∼6%
HP ZBook 17 G2 J8Z55ET
4010 Points ∼10%
Acer Aspire V Nitro Black Edition VN7-792G-74Q4
4380 Points ∼11%
Alienware 15
7440 Points ∼19%
MSI GT80-2QES32SR311BW
19121 Points ∼49%
1280x720 Cloud Gate Standard Graphics (sort by value)
HP ZBook 17 E9X11AA-ABA
5836 Points ∼4%
Lenovo ThinkPad W550s 20E2-000PGE
9092 Points ∼6%
Asus PU551JH
9615 Points ∼6%
Toshiba Tecra W50-A-104
11985 Points ∼7%
Bullman E-Klasse 5
20310 Points ∼12%
Eurocom Panther 5D
31015 Points ∼19%
HP ZBook 14
6297 Points ∼4%
Dell Precision M2800
12506 Points ∼8%
HP ZBook 15 G2
17220 Points ∼11%
HP ZBook 17 G2 J8Z55ET
26581 Points ∼16%
Acer Aspire V Nitro Black Edition VN7-792G-74Q4
30899 Points ∼19%
Alienware 15
51272 Points ∼31%
MSI GT80-2QES32SR311BW
127465 Points ∼78%
1280x720 Ice Storm Standard Graphics (sort by value)
HP ZBook 17 E9X11AA-ABA
46678 Points ∼6%
Lenovo ThinkPad W550s 20E2-000PGE
38601 Points ∼5%
Asus PU551JH
59897 Points ∼8%
Toshiba Tecra W50-A-104
106617 Points ∼14%
Bullman E-Klasse 5
171229 Points ∼23%
Eurocom Panther 5D
215458 Points ∼29%
HP ZBook 14
35702 Points ∼5%
Dell Precision M2800
93515 Points ∼12%
HP ZBook 15 G2
100463 Points ∼13%
HP ZBook 17 G2 J8Z55ET
246824 Points ∼33%
Acer Aspire V Nitro Black Edition VN7-792G-74Q4
116833 Points ∼16%
Alienware 15
108235 Points ∼14%
MSI GT80-2QES32SR311BW
372739 Points ∼50%

Legend

 
HP ZBook 17 E9X11AA-ABA Intel Core i7-4900MQ, NVIDIA Quadro K610M, Micron RealSSD C400 MTFDDAK128MAM
 
Lenovo ThinkPad W550s 20E2-000PGE Intel Core i7-5500U, NVIDIA Quadro K620M, Samsung SSD PM851 512 GB MZ7TE512HMHP
 
Asus PU551JH Intel Core i5-4210M, NVIDIA Quadro K1100M, Hitachi Travelstar Z7K500 HTS725050A7E630
 
Toshiba Tecra W50-A-104 Intel Core i7-4800MQ, NVIDIA Quadro K2100M, Toshiba MQ01ABD100
 
Bullman E-Klasse 5 Intel Core i7-4790K, NVIDIA Quadro K3100M, Samsung SSD SM951 256GB MZHPV256HDGL
 
MSI WT72-2OL32SR311BW Intel Core i7-4980HQ, NVIDIA Quadro K4100M, 4x Toshiba HG6 THNSNJ256G8NU (RAID 0)
 
Eurocom Panther 5D Intel Xeon E5-2697 v2, NVIDIA Quadro K5100M, Crucial M500 120 GB CT120M500SSD3
 
HP ZBook 14 Intel Core i7-4600U, AMD FirePro M4100, Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256GB MZ7PD256HAFV-0Z000
 
Dell Precision M2800 Intel Core i7-4810MQ, AMD FirePro W4170M, SK hynix SH920
 
HP ZBook 15 G2 Intel Core i7-4910MQ, AMD FirePro M5100, SanDisk A110 SD6PP4M-256G-1006
 
HP ZBook 17 G2 J8Z55ET Intel Core i7-4710MQ, AMD FirePro M6100, HGST Travelstar 7K1000 HTS721075A9E630
 
Acer Aspire V Nitro Black Edition VN7-792G-74Q4 Intel Core i7-6700HQ, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M, Toshiba MQ02ABD100H
 
Alienware 15 Intel Core i7-4710HQ, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M, Samsung SSD PM851 M.2 2280 128GB
 
MSI GT80-2QES32SR311BW Intel Core i7-4980HQ, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M SLI, 4x Toshiba HG6 THNSNJ256G8NU (RAID 0)
Unigine Heaven 3.0
1920x1080 OpenGL, Normal Tessellation, High Shaders AA:Off AF:Off (sort by value)
Asus PU551JH
16.9 fps ∼15%
Lenovo ThinkPad W550s 20E2-000PGE
18.6 fps ∼17%
MSI WS60 2OJ8H11W7P
21.1 fps ∼19%
Bullman E-Klasse 5
35.8 fps ∼32%
HP ZBook 14
8.6 fps ∼8%
Dell Precision M2800
17.6 fps ∼16%
HP ZBook 15 G2
22.9 fps ∼21%
HP ZBook 17 G2 J8Z55ET
48.8 fps ∼44%
1920x1080 DX 11, Normal Tessellation, High Shaders AA:Off AF:Off (sort by value)
Asus PU551JH
17.4 fps ∼6%
Lenovo ThinkPad W550s 20E2-000PGE
21.9 fps ∼8%
MSI WS60 2OJ8H11W7P
22.8 fps ∼8%
Bullman E-Klasse 5
37 fps ∼14%
HP ZBook 14
10.9 fps ∼4%
Dell Precision M2800
22.4 fps ∼8%
HP ZBook 15 G2
28 fps ∼10%
HP ZBook 17 G2 J8Z55ET
56.2 fps ∼21%
Schenker XMG A505
56.3 fps ∼21%
Alienware 15
91.6 fps ∼34%
MSI GT80-2QES32SR311BW
210 fps ∼78%

Legend

 
Asus PU551JH Intel Core i5-4210M, NVIDIA Quadro K1100M, Hitachi Travelstar Z7K500 HTS725050A7E630
 
Lenovo ThinkPad W550s 20E2-000PGE Intel Core i7-5500U, NVIDIA Quadro K620M, Samsung SSD PM851 512 GB MZ7TE512HMHP
 
MSI WS60 2OJ8H11W7P Intel Core i7-4710HQ, NVIDIA Quadro K2100M, Toshiba HG6 THNSNJ128G8NU
 
Bullman E-Klasse 5 Intel Core i7-4790K, NVIDIA Quadro K3100M, Samsung SSD SM951 256GB MZHPV256HDGL
 
HP ZBook 14 Intel Core i7-4600U, AMD FirePro M4100, Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256GB MZ7PD256HAFV-0Z000
 
Dell Precision M2800 Intel Core i7-4810MQ, AMD FirePro W4170M, SK hynix SH920
 
HP ZBook 15 G2 Intel Core i7-4910MQ, AMD FirePro M5100, SanDisk A110 SD6PP4M-256G-1006
 
HP ZBook 17 G2 J8Z55ET Intel Core i7-4710MQ, AMD FirePro M6100, HGST Travelstar 7K1000 HTS721075A9E630
 
Schenker XMG A505 Intel Core i7-4720HQ, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M, Micron M600 MTFDDAV256MBF M.2
 
Alienware 15 Intel Core i7-4710HQ, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M, Samsung SSD PM851 M.2 2280 128GB
 
MSI GT80-2QES32SR311BW Intel Core i7-4980HQ, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M SLI, 4x Toshiba HG6 THNSNJ256G8NU (RAID 0)

OpenCL

OpenCL can be used to let the GPU perform tasks that are usually performed by the CPU. We use Luxmark 2.0, which uses OpenCL for ray tracing (complex light-shadow calculations), for this comparison and our individual reviews. Only the dedicated GPU is active in this case.

LuxMark v2.0 64Bit
Room GPUs-only (sort by value)
HP ZBook 17 E9X11AA-ABA
102 Samples/s ∼2%
Asus PU551JH
53 Samples/s ∼1%
Lenovo ThinkPad W550s 20E2-000PGE
253 Samples/s ∼5%
Lenovo ThinkPad W541 20EF000SGE
68 Samples/s ∼1%
Bullman E-Klasse 5
215 Samples/s ∼4%
HP ZBook 14
187 Samples/s ∼4%
Dell Precision M2800
256 Samples/s ∼5%
HP ZBook 15 G2
353 Samples/s ∼7%
HP ZBook 17 G2 J8Z55ET
598 Samples/s ∼11%
Sala GPUs-only (sort by value)
HP ZBook 17 E9X11AA-ABA
48 Samples/s ∼0%
Asus PU551JH
113 Samples/s ∼1%
Lenovo ThinkPad W550s 20E2-000PGE
508 Samples/s ∼5%
Lenovo ThinkPad W541 20EF000SGE
146 Samples/s ∼1%
Bullman E-Klasse 5
423 Samples/s ∼4%
HP ZBook 14
306 Samples/s ∼3%
Dell Precision M2800
462 Samples/s ∼4%
HP ZBook 15 G2
641 Samples/s ∼6%
HP ZBook 17 G2 J8Z55ET
1084 Samples/s ∼10%

Legend

 
HP ZBook 17 E9X11AA-ABA Intel Core i7-4900MQ, NVIDIA Quadro K610M, Micron RealSSD C400 MTFDDAK128MAM
 
Asus PU551JH Intel Core i5-4210M, NVIDIA Quadro K1100M, Hitachi Travelstar Z7K500 HTS725050A7E630
 
Lenovo ThinkPad W550s 20E2-000PGE Intel Core i7-5500U, NVIDIA Quadro K620M, Samsung SSD PM851 512 GB MZ7TE512HMHP
 
Lenovo ThinkPad W541 20EF000SGE Intel Core i7-4910MQ, NVIDIA Quadro K2100M, Samsung SSD PM851 512 GB MZ7TE512HMHP
 
Bullman E-Klasse 5 Intel Core i7-4790K, NVIDIA Quadro K3100M, Samsung SSD SM951 256GB MZHPV256HDGL
 
HP ZBook 14 Intel Core i7-4600U, AMD FirePro M4100, Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256GB MZ7PD256HAFV-0Z000
 
Dell Precision M2800 Intel Core i7-4810MQ, AMD FirePro W4170M, SK hynix SH920
 
HP ZBook 15 G2 Intel Core i7-4710MQ, AMD FirePro M5100, HGST Travelstar 5K1000 HTS541075A9E680
 
HP ZBook 17 G2 J8Z55ET Intel Core i7-4710MQ, AMD FirePro M6100, HGST Travelstar 7K1000 HTS721075A9E630
Discussion

For the Purchase Decision

MSI WT72
MSI WT72
Dell Precision M2800
Dell Precision M2800
HP Omen Pro
HP Omen Pro
Dell Precision M4600
Dell Precision M4600
Lenovo ThinkPad W520
Lenovo ThinkPad W520
Schenker Xirios W710
Schenker Xirios W710
Fujitsu Celsius H710
Fujitsu Celsius H710

The performance can differ quite a lot depending on the sequence. It is therefore very important to get informed about the compatibility between the desired GPU and the application you want to use before you make a decision. But even if you can find the software and the preferred graphics card in the list, you should only use the results as an indicator due to the previously mentioned reasons.

Who needs an OpenGL optimized graphics card or what should you consider for your purchase decision?

1. Software

What kind of programs do you use or will you be using that need OpenGL compatibility? (Also see the software overview at the end of this article.) Some applications like AutoCAD, for example, already switched to the DirectX interface. You should also note that some applications run better on AMD's FirePro and others better on Nvidia's Quadro series. 

2. Frequency/ Intensity

How often do you use OpenGL-based software on a regular basis and for how long? Even older and less powerful systems will be sufficient for the presentation of 3D models. But if you have a focus on complex 3D renderings, then there is not really an alternative for a professional solution.

3. Work

What do you expect in terms of optimal driver support, support and stability? Devices with professional software usually come with a wide range of software certifications, which ensure a high compatibility, stability and support. This is mainly for professional users that earn their money with this work and where every wasted hour costs money.

4. Cost

The world of mobile professional systems with AMD FirePro or Nvidia Quadro currently starts at around 1,000 Euros (~$1087) with the ASUSPRO PU551JH. In this case, you will have to waive typical business features and a high system performance, but in return you get a good IPS FHD display and an Nvidia Quadro K1100M GPU. We will have to see if the prices change as soon as the availability of the current models is better. There is, however, no limit in the other direction. 17-inch devices in particular can quickly reach prices of 5,000 Euros (~$5435).

5. Alternatives

Alternatives are primarily recertified or used models from old product series. Because of the long warranty period (usually 3 years) and the long availability of spare parts, this category can be a comparatively inexpensive alternative. Based on our experiences, workstations are usually very sturdy devices with high-quality components and build qualities, so there should not be any problems in the long run. For example, we performed a long-term review of the HP ZBook 15 G2, which left a very good impression in this regard. Besides the Top 10 Workstations from our rankings, you should also have a look at our other workstation reviews. Last year's models, discontinued series or used devices can be a clever alternative when the wallet is a bit lighter. 

If you can waive a mobile operation completely, you should consider an upgrade of a decent desktop system. Depending on the application and the expectations, you can already get professional GPUs for around 100 Euros (~$108). We are working on a separate article for this topic, which has a closer look at the performance of less expensive entry-level desktop GPUs.

Software Overview

HP ZBook 15 G2
HP ZBook 15 G2

The following table is an overview about popular OpenGL software. It is not a finished or complete list but should only be seen as an indicator. It also gives some insight where professional systems are primarily used. Some software products are used in different segments, so there can be multiple entries.

Software List

Oil and Gas

Architecture Media & Entertainment Geospatial Applications Product Development

Landmark DecisionSpace

Autodesk Revit Adobe Creative Cloud ArcGIS PTC Creo

Schlumberger Petrel, Geoframe

Autodesk AutoCAD Adobe After Effects CC Autodesk AutoCAD Map 3D Dassault Systèmes Catia

Paradigm 14

Bentley Microstation Adobe Photoshop CC Hexagon GeoMedia Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks

IHS Kingdom, Petra

Autodesk Navisworks Autodesk 3ds Max Autodesk Inventor

ffA GeoTeric

Autodesk 3ds Max Design Autodesk Flame Life Sciences Autodesk AutoCAD

Drilling Info Transform

Autodesk Showcase Autodesk Maya Imaging Siemens NX

Emerson Roxar RMS

Accelerware ITK Autodesk Alias

Headwave Core

Molecular Dynamics Informatics Mathimatica Autodesk Mudbox

AMBER Blast Matlab

CHARMM FastROCS Quantum Chemistry

GROMACS GPU-HMMR GAMESS

NAMD MUMmerGPU NWchem

SmithWaterman Terachem

Attention!

Upgradeability
Upgradeability
Accessories
Accessories
Equipment
Equipment

All software usually has minimum and recommended hardware requirements. We recommend not focusing on the minimum requirements, because the working speed, workflow and the quality (representation) will usually suffer from weak hardware. Mobile workstations are also expected to last for quite a while in most cases, so there should be some performance reserves for upcoming tasks.

The following aspects can also be important when you select a GPU. From time to time, you will also have to decide what feature you prefer, because not every component is available or can be combined with others.

  • Display characteristics, size, resolution (screen estate, depth of detail), outdoor capabilities, color gamut
  • Port selection (type and number) Thunderbolt, DisplayPort, Firewire, eSATA, PCIe (NVMe), mSATA, WWAN
  • Hardware CPU, RAM, internal storage device (number, performance), optical drive
  • Flexibility/ expandability modular bays for quick change of optical drive, hard drive, battery, empty module, docking station/ port replicator for quick attachment of stationary peripherals

Many of these options are related to the mobility. You will always have to evaluate the pros and cons for the individual usage scenario.

Verdict

Dell Precision M4800
Dell Precision M4800

A workstation with a professional orientation is usually an expensive investment. They start at around 1,000 Euros (~$1087) and can quickly get more expensive depending on the hardware. It is therefore very important to think about the software you will be using. The terms OpenGL, DirectX and CAD are important aspects in this decision. Even if you consider everything and plan everything correctly, there can always be driver and software updates or the switch to new construction software that can ruin all your considerations.

Consumer graphics cards are no alternative for OpenGL optimized software. Even powerful gaming GPUs can be outclassed by entry-level professional chips in some cases. 

With all those professional requirements, you should never lose sight of the other notebook features. Wrong decisions, particularly in respect of the display, CPU, input devices and port variety can hardly be fixed afterwards.

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Benchmarks / Tech > Mobile Graphics Cards for Professional Users (Quadro, FireGL)
Tobias Winkler, 2015-12- 4 (Update: 2015-12- 4)