Get What It Takes to Run a CAD Workstation
Tom Lansford posted on July 08, 2016 |

With good 3D performance, four miniDisplayPort outputs, 4 GB of memory, and a half-height form-factor, the FirePro W4300 is a versatile CAD graphics card.

With good 3D performance, four miniDisplayPort outputs, 4 GB of memory, and a half-height form-factor, the FirePro W4300 is a versatile CAD graphics card.

If your CAD workstation runs SOLIDWORKS, Inventor or a similar modeling application, then you will be looking for a well-made graphics processing unit (GPU) that performs well and delivers the right extra features. And the price should not break the bank. 

Have a look at the AMD FirePro W4300. It is a professional GPU that is priced just under $300. It is a half-height graphics board, so it fits in small form factor (SFF) workstations, such as the HP Z240, in addition to mini-tower and larger workstations. The four 4K resolution mini DisplayPort outputs are more display options than most users 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 mini DisplayPort outputs, the FirePro W4300 can run four displays with each using a 4K, 3840x2160-pixel resolution.
For improved CAD productivity, a workstation needs two or more high-resolution displays. With four mini DisplayPort outputs, the FirePro W4300 can run four displays with each using a 4K, 3840x2160-pixel resolution.

Here are some key points from AMD’s full product specification

  • Performance: It suffices to say that AMD’s Bonaire GPU with two billion transistors will crank out graphics fast enough to keep SOLIDWORKS or Inventor busy trying to feed the GPU. 
  • The on-board memory of 4 GB is more than enough to handle 3D modeling workloads.
  • A half-height form factor makes the FirePro W4300 a great performing GPU for an SFF CAD workstation. 
  • The four mini DisplayPort outputs means you can configure your workstation with two, three or four displays to increase productivity. 
  • Support for the major application APIs is 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. 

This class of GPU from AMD competes head-to-head with the NVIDIA Quadro K1200 . The NVIDIA product is also a half-height board with 4 GB of graphics memory and four mini DisplayPort outputs and has a price close to $300. That matches the AMD FirePro W4300 point for point. With a street price under $300, the FirePro will often save a few dollars on your budget. Most importantly, the product specification, 3D performance and board features are a great match for CAD workstations.


About the Author

Tom Lansford is an international marketing consultant and manages the sites Professional WorkstationCADplace France and CADplace UK. He has been living in Europe since 1992, and previously managed workstation marketing in Europe at NVIDIA. Lansford is a professional videographer and his interests include design visualization, simulation, graphics and GPU computing.

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