iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






Ultra Hi-End 3D Accelerators: 3Dlabs Wildcat 4 7210 384MB and NVIDIA Quadro FX 3000 256MB

March 20, 2004


Today we are testing two exclusive top graphics cards from 3Dlabs and NVIDIA - Wildcat 4 7210 384MB and Quadro FX 3000 256MB. They are the most powerful and expensive (Wildcat 4 7210 - $1720, Quadro FX 3000 - $1370, by Pricewatch.com) professional 3D accelerators. Let's see what these Ultra Hi-End cards are capable of.

3Dlabs Wildcat 4 7210 384MB

The huge dual-processor monster ships in a pretty small box with a small white sticker with the card's name. The card is intended mostly for OEM companies. The box also contains an installation CD, a user manual, two DVI to D-Sub adapters.

3Dlabs Wildcat 4 7210 384MB 

3Dlabs Wildcat 4 7210 384MB
The card's equipped with an AGP Pro 8x slot and 384MB DDR memory (128MB frame buffer plus 256MB texture buffer). 

Hynix memory chips (HYDU283222Q-4). 

Samsung memory chips (K4H561638D-TCB3).

Front view Back view


Both cards look very impressive.

Let's take a closer look at the second card.

NVIDIA Quadro FX 3000 256MB 

This card (from PNY Technologies) ships in a bright cardboard box with a beautiful picture and comes with a scanty accessory pack: an installation CD, DVI to D-Sub adapters and a user guide. The card looks standard: 

NVIDIA Quadro FX 3000 256MB 

Front view Back view

This is actually a reference solution of the GeForce FX 5900 family. It has the same cooling system and the same PCB. Nothing new. 

Testbed, drivers and test settings


  • Mainboard: Intel Server Board SE7505VB2
  • CPUs: 2 x Intel Xeon 2.4GHz (HyperThreading on, 4 logical CPUs in all)
  • Hard drive: Fujitsu MPG 40GB
  • RAM: 512MB DDR 
  • Display: ViewSonic P 817-E
  • Windows XP SP1, DirectX9.


  • NVIDIA: 53.03
  • 3Dlabs:

Optimization for a given test application is enabled, vertical sync is disabled where possible. 

The AA mode was set to maximum - 16xQ for Quadro FX 3000 and Forced SuperScene Settings (FSSS) for Wildcat 4 7210. Have a look at the Wildcat 4 driver settings:


The Wildcat 4 7210 driver can set an optimization for a certain application and force one or another mode of operation.

Here are the screenshots of settings for some applications:

  • LightWave 7


The settings for v4.00.28 and v4.00.29 completely coincide.

  • The following items are ticked off in the OpenGL in 3ds max: 
    • Allow dualplane support 
    • Use incremental scene updates 
    • Use BGRA pixel format 
    • Use generalized Vertex Arrays 

    Texture sizes: 

    • Background textures size 512 
    • Download texture size 512 

    Filtering used: 

    • texel lookup: linear 
    • Mipmap lookup: linear 

    These settings are also applied for 3Dlabs's driver. 

As to special drivers for 3ds max, the Quadro FX 3000 ran under NVIDIA's MAXTREME 4.00.29, 3Dlabs Wildcat 4 7210 ran under the special driver from the distribution v06.06.02.57. 

The tests in the CAD packets were carried out with the special test suits from http://www.spec.org/. After installation of the modeling suite we installed the test suite and then took measurements. No special settings were made in the CAD systems because all required settings were made by the test suite. 

Let's start our benchmarking with SPECviewperf 7.1.1.

Quadro FX 3000 gets a weighty advantage, and 3Dlabs's card noticeably slows down when the highest-quality AA is enabled. Later we will closer look at the AA quality of the cards in questions, and now we turn to the real applications.

As you can see, 3ds max performance remains a weak point for 3Dlabs solutions. Sometimes Wildcat 4 goes on a par with Quadro FX 3000, sometimes it even beats the latter, but it's not able to change the situation the radical way. NVIDIA thrives in 3ds max.

Note the bug of NVIDIA MAXTREME 4.00.29:

NVIDIA is not sinless either. Now comes AA quality in the wireframe mode: 

3Dlabs Wildcat 4 7210 384MB
NVIDIA Quadro FX 3000 256MB 

3ds max AA 

Forced SuperScene Settings 
AA 16xQ 

Compare the quality with the animated gif file:

We won't thrust out opinion on you about the AA quality of the cards, just look at the screenshots yourselves.

Here's the first CAD application. Although Wildcat 4 7210 is not an absolute champion, it performs very well. In the AA mode the performance drop is pretty big... Quadro FX 3000 works much faster in the AA mode, with the quality being the same.

The situation is similar. 3Dlabs's card falls behind. The picture in the AA mode doesn't change.

This test proves again that 3Dlabs 3D accelerators are highly tailored products. It smashes the competitor into pieces in the ordinary mode. In the AA mode its performance is mostly worse, though sometimes it scores the best results, but in general the drop is not fatal. 

AA quality in Space_Colony:

3Dlabs Wildcat 4 7210 384MB
NVIDIA Quadro FX 3000 256MB

Forced SuperScene Settings 
AA 16xQ 

Animated gif file: 


So, we tested two powerful professional 3D accelerators. One of them is omnivorous, the other is much more careful about "dishes" :-)) Quadro FX 3000 performs well in most tests. If we decided to compare these two cards, NVIDIA's one would get more scores.

3Dlabs Wildcat 4 7210 is often slower than its competitor, but we should account for the specific nature of 3Dlabs' products. The company produces cards for a definite range of tasks, for definite applications. And in such applications the card looks matchless.

In the Quadro FX 3000 also scores excellent results. In all tests, except LightWave 7, NVIDIA demonstrates a higher anti-aliasing speed. The AA quality is high and comparable for both cards. Well, it's for you to decide what to prefer. Just look at the screenshots.

3Dlabs Wildcat 4 7210 384MB


  • Excellent build quality;
  • Impeccable operation of the drivers;
  • Stability;
  • Flawless operation of the driver for 3ds max;
  • Perfect AA quality. 


  • Conservative accessory pack;
  • Too big card :-));
  • High price;
  • Intended for a definite range of applications;
  • Not that high performance in the most popular applications;
  • Noticeable performance drop in the high-quality AA mode.

As you can see, some downsides are inconsiderable, but the others are pretty significant.

NVIDIA Quadro FX 3000 256MB 


  • Excellent build quality;
  • Impeccable operation of the drivers;
  • Stability;
  • High speed in most applications;
  • High speed and perfect quality of anti-aliasing. 


  • Conservative accessory pack;
  • Not that flawless operation of the driver for 3ds max.

We will continue our tests, stay tuned! 


Kirill Budankov (budankov@ixbt.com)

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