Workstation Battle: AMD Radeon Navi vs. NVIDIA GeForce SUPER

AMD Radeon Navi and NVIDIA GeForce SUPER
by Rob Williams on August 4, 2019 in Graphics & Displays

We’ve taken a look at AMD’s latest Radeons and NVIDIA’s latest GeForces in gaming, so it’s time to turn our attention to creators. We’re pitting the RX 5700 series against NVIDIA’s RTX SUPER, with a spattering of other models added in for a fuller look at what the proviz performance picture looks like today.

Introduction & Testing References

Having tackled gaming performance on AMD’s RX 5700 and NVIDIA’s RTX SUPER graphics cards over the past couple of weeks, we can now turn our attention towards the creative side of the market. Admittedly, this article should have been posted weeks ago, but we had more than one wrench thrown into our plans, some of which we’ll talk about throughout the article.

It used to be that creative work done on a PC would imply you were using a workstation-class graphics card, but that’s not anywhere close to being the case today. Even AMD and NVIDIA have softened up on their respective workstation card pushes, and it makes sense. Radeon Pros and Quadros have reasons for their heftier price premiums, but most of the world can’t stomach them.

There are a couple of reasons why you’d still want to consider a Radeon Pro or Quadro over a Radeon or GeForce, but nowadays, that largely has to do with the software in question. If you’re using a high-end CAD suite that focuses its support around workstation-class GPUs, you should probably just suck it up and go that same route to avoid as much potential headache as possible. But for hobbyists or students, gaming cards can fill the void more often than not.

AMD Radeon Navi and NVIDIA GeForce SUPER

A common selling-point for workstation cards for quite some time has been support for 30-bit color in OpenGL. Once again proving that we’re never quite sure what to expect, NVIDIA just opened up that feature to its current GeForce and TITAN line when the Studio driver is used. We’re still digging for the final word on this, but AMD’s Radeon gaming cards had 30-bit support enabled in OpenGL since around 2014, however, applications like Photoshop and Premiere Pro would not enable it unless a workstation card was detected. Whether this changes going forward, we don’t know.

Let’s spend a minute taking a look at the cards being tested. For the sake of keeping things simpler here, we’re including only the GPUs being tested today in these tables. You can look at fuller lists in some of our other recent GPU content.

AMD’s Radeon Gaming GPU Lineup
CoresBase MHzPeak FP32MemoryBandwidthTDPSRP
WX 82003584120010.8 TFLOPS8 GB 8512 GB/s230W$999
Radeon VII3840140013.8 TFLOPS16 GB 41 TB/s300W$699
RX 5700 XT256016059.75 TFLOPS8 GB 1448 GB/s225W$399
RX 5700230414657.95 TFLOPS8 GB 1448 GB/s180W$349
RX 590230415767.1 TFLOPS8 GB 3256 GB/s225 W$199
Notes1 GDDR6; 2 GDDR5X; 3 GDDR5; 4 HBM2
5 GDDR6 (ECC); 6 GDDR5X (ECC); 7 GDDR5 (ECC); 8 HBM2 (ECC)
NVIDIA’s GeForce Gaming GPU Lineup
CoresBase MHzPeak FP32MemoryBandwidthTDPSRP
TITAN RTX4608177016.3 TFLOPS24GB 1672 GB/s280W$2,499
RTX 4000230410057.1 TFLOPS8 GB 5416 GB/s160W$900
RTX 2080S3072165011.1 TFLOPS8GB 1496 GB/s250W$699
RTX 2070S256016059.1 TFLOPS8GB 1448 GB/s215W$499
RTX 2060S217614707.2 TFLOPS8GB 1448 GB/s175W$399
GTX 1660 Ti153615005.5 TFLOPS6GB 1288 GB/s120W$279
GTX 1080 Ti3584148011.3 TFLOPS11GB 2484 GB/s250WEOL
Notes1 GDDR6; 2 GDDR5X; 3 GDDR5; 4 HBM2
5 GDDR6 (ECC); 6 GDDR5X (ECC); 7 GDDR5 (ECC); 8 HBM2 (ECC)

Regardless of the performance picture, we’re recommending anyone looking for a new graphics card for creative work to at least go with an 8GB option. You’ll be doing yourself a disservice by using less; maybe not right this minute, but surely before you’ll be looking to upgrade. We have a suspicion that the big reason NVIDIA didn’t increase the 2080 SUPER’s framebuffer is so that it didn’t eat more into the 2080 Ti’s market positioning, but it’s too bad nonetheless. Perhaps next-gen, we’ll see higher than 8GB become as standard as that is right now.

Chances are good that anyone looking at gaming cards are not going to be too concerned over error correction memory. It’s our understanding that in professional visualization, ECC is used primarily by the medical and energy markets, and not so much in design. That said, the option is available to those with higher-end workstation cards, but never on gaming equivalents.

Because NVIDIA offers 30-bit color on GeForce and TITAN now, the exclusive features list of Quadro slims a bit. As with the RPro cards, Quadros still carry a price premium largely because of the highly tuned drivers, and also performance optimizations for select high-end suites. At least with the case of NVIDIA, Quadro cards also offer far more NVENC streams than GeForce (20+ vs. 2), but a feature like that isn’t exactly relevant to the ProViz audience (it’s more relevant to Plex hosts).

In the workstation vs. gaming argument, the best point to make for RPro and Quadro is premium support. If you’re a gamer running into an issue, you’re not likely to be treated with priority, whereas that’s implied with workstation GPUs. If your work is critical, you need to weigh these factors.

Test PC & What We Test

On the following pages, the results of our workstation GPU test gauntlet will be seen. The tests chosen cover a wide range of scenarios, from rendering to compute, and includes the use of both synthetic benchmarks and tests with real-world applications from the likes of Adobe and Autodesk.

Twelve GPUs were tested suite-wide, but for our CUDA-only page, the non-SUPER 2060/2070/2080 and 2080 Ti were added to help bolster the results a bit more. Time didn’t allow us to run those through the rest of the suite, though the results on this CUDA page will largely represent scaling seen elsewhere.

Unfortunately, this article isn’t as standard fare as we’d like. We ran into a number of software-related issues that prevents the usual list of results from being seen. In particular, AMD’s Navi cards didn’t work in MAGIX Vegas Pro or SiSoftware’s Sandra, something we’re sure will be rectified before long. It’s doubly unfortunate that our AMD Radeon ProRender testing also had to be dropped due to a bug (which we talk about on the next page), as that would have been a third renderer for AMD cards, whereas NVIDIA has the bonus of four additional ones on the CUDA-only page.

Alas, nothing can be perfect. We’ll retest in due time, but for now, we still have many useful results to pore over. That all covered, the specs of our test rig are seen below:

Techgage Workstation Test System
ProcessorIntel Core i9-9980XE (18-core; 3.0GHz)
MemoryG.SKILL Flare X (F4-3200C14-8GFX)
4x8GB; DDR4-3200 14-14-14
GraphicsAMD Radeon VII (16GB, Adrenaline 19.7.1)
AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT (8GB, Adrenaline 19.7.2)
AMD Radeon RX 5700 (8GB, Adrenaline 19.7.2)
AMD Radeon RX 590 (8GB, Adrenaline 19.7.1)
AMD Radeon Pro WX 8200 (8GB, Enterprise 19.Q2.1)
NVIDIA TITAN RTX (24GB, GeForce 431.36)
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 SUPER (8GB, GeForce 431.56)
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 SUPER (8GB, GeForce 431.36)
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 SUPER (8GB, GeForce 431.36)
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti (11GB, GeForce 431.56)
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti (6GB, GeForce 431.56)
NVIDIA Quadro RTX 4000 (8GB, Quadro 431.02)
StorageKingston KC1000 960GB M.2 SSD
Power SupplyCorsair 80 Plus Gold AX1200
ChassisCorsair Carbide 600C Inverted Full-Tower
CoolingNZXT Kraken X62 AIO Liquid Cooler
Et ceteraWindows 10 Pro build 18362 (1903)

Our benchmark results are categorized and spread across the following four pages. On page 2, we’re taking a look at neutral renderers with the help of Blender and LuxMark. On page 3, we’re heading down the CUDA-only path with V-Ray, Arnold, Redshift, and Octane.

Page 4 is home to our encoding tests, which are handled by Adobe’s Premiere Pro, MAGIX’s Vegas Pro, and a new entrant in our GPU tests: Agisoft’s Metashape. Metashape is a photogrammetry tool, but until we add more such tools to our suite (such as Reality Capture, coming soon), it’s being tossed into the encoding section. Finally, page 5 handles viewport performance across a range of popular suites.

And with all of that covered, let’s get on with it:

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Rob Williams

Rob founded Techgage in 2005 to be an 'Advocate of the consumer', focusing on fair reviews and keeping people apprised of news in the tech world. Catering to both enthusiasts and businesses alike; from desktop gaming to professional workstations, and all the supporting software.

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