As with most of our workstation graphics card reviews, it’s hard to sum up AMD’s Radeon Pro W5700 without breaking down what it’s good at. We have many results spread across the previous pages that can highlight just how much performance can change from one vendor to the next, or even from workstation to gaming series.
In our rendering tests, the W5700 performed great for its price point as a workstation GPU. For heavier workloads, it goes without saying that you’re going to greatly value a higher-end option than the W5700 (or competing RTX 4000). By saying that, we’re talking workloads that see renders span many hours, not just minutes. Those familiar with the need for top-end GPUs are no doubt familiar with overnight renders.
Where rendering is king, and budgets are tight, gaming cards are almost always a better choice, unless you’re dealing with some serious software (eg: SolidWorks, CATIA, Siemens, et cetera.) You also have the option of using a lower-end Radeon Pro as the primary GPU, and dedicate a secondary gaming GPU (also Radeon) to rendering duties. Both GPUs could even be used at the same time. Your choice of hardware will largely revolve around your specific requirements.
AMD’s Navi architecture has proven to be a great one for Blender Cycles use, with the W5700 actually managing to surpass the (technically quicker) RX 5700 XT in the more complex Classroom scene. We’d be remiss to not mention the fact that NVIDIA has accelerated Cycles rendering quite a bit with its RTX technologies, something we took a look at a couple of months ago. This tech is currently in beta, but it is impressive, and makes us wish AMD had its own ray tracing solution ready-to-go.
While rendering is great with the W5700, the video encoding performance leaves a little bit to be desired – but again, what impacts you depends on your workflow. AMD had strong performance in our AVC and RED transcodes, but it fell behind NVIDIA with ProRes. That detriment carried over to the BRAW Speed Test, which showed NVIDIA with double the performance.
We’re of the mind that video encoding performance will improve over time, not just as AMD iterates on its drivers, but as software developers better support the Navi architecture. Despite the fact that Navi launched on July 7, MAGIX Vegas Pro 17 still doesn’t support it (or else it would have been included here). We’re told that the next build should add support, and we’re hoping that one will land before we finish testing for our next general ProViz performance look, since AMD tends to be strong there.
The viewport tests are where the real fun happens, because it’s basically a free-for-all to see which GPU will come out on top. While gaming GPUs will work fine in many of these applications, performance isn’t everything. Workstation graphics drivers are specifically vetted for stability in all of their supported applications. For a regular end-user sitting at home doing stuff as a hobby, a gaming GPU can easily fit the bill (depending on workload), but for more critical work, workstation GPUs are suggested.
We have to admit that the W5700 surprised us with its super-strong performance in SPECviewperf. In SolidWorks, Siemens NX, and Maya, it led the pack, and traded blows based on resolution in CATIA. While super-high performance will be enjoyed by those with high-refresh monitors, it’s nice to know if there’s anything holding back performance, it’s not going to be the GPU.
Overall, AMD’s Radeon Pro W5700 is a great workstation graphics card for the money. Ultimately, though, what turns out to be the best choice for you will depend entirely on your workflows. It’s an unrelenting fact that it pays to know your workload, and as our results have highlighted once again, they’re all far from being alike.
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