3D Artist

PNY Nvidia Quadro M4000 review

News & Features
Orestis Bastounis

Does the Nvidia M4000 offer a lot of bang for its buck? Find out in our expert Nvidia M4000 review

PNY Nvidia Quadro M4000 review

Essential info

Price £749
Processors 1,664
Memory 8GB GDDR5
Clock speed 773MHz
Memory speed 1,503MHz

Judging by the popularity of its predecessor, the K4200, you should expect to see Nvidia’s Quadro M4000 graphics card show up in plenty of workstations in the next year or so. It’s bound to be a popular choice, as it occupies the same sweet spot in the middle of the Quadro line-up. You get a considerable amount of graphics performance but without the enormous price tag of the more high-end cards.

It’s popular for another reason. It’s the most powerful Nvidia GPU with a cooler that allows it to fit into a single slot inside a case. Although that’s not a restriction for systems that are sold in large, high-end cases, many are sold with slim custom designs, particularly mid-range machines from the likes of Dell and HP. Often when trying to customise a workstation with a more high-end GPU, a single-slot card like the K4200 is the most you’re offered.

Its replacement uses the Maxwell architecture, as found in all of Nvidia’s 9-series gaming GPUs. Until now though, the only professional card to use this new design is the ultraexpensive Quadro M6000, which came out earlier this year.

That card surprised in many ways, as it has the same amount of memory as the K6000 it replaced – a minor increase to the shader count and the same memory bandwidth but with increased overall performance.

The real performance gains came from more ROPs, faster memory and a higher core clock speed.

Of all the Quadro upgrades to a Maxwell-based architecture, relatively, the M4000 has gained the most over the K4200. The GDDR5 memory has been doubled to 8GB, running at a faster 1,500MHz memory clock frequency. The ROPs have also been doubled to 64. There are more TMUs and around 25 per cent more stream processors, from 1,340 up to 1,664. It’s a bigger upgrade than the M5000 is over the K5200.

PNY Nvidia Quadro M4000 review

And as expected, the benchmark results reveal the fruits of this added hardware. We unfortunately didn’t have a K4200 to directly compare with the M4000, but we do have results from other systems and we can look at how it fits in with the M5000 and K5200.

The story is roughly the same as it is with the M5000 and M6000 – greatly improved OpenCL results and smaller improvements in other tests.

The OpenCL numbers are particularly impressive.

The LuxMark results leapfrog even the K5200, which carries a price tag that’s twice the size. It’s not a one-off either, as CompuBenchCL shows a big improvement too. In fact the £750 M4000 starts to look really impressive when you compare it with the £1,500 K5200 and, arguably, perhaps even the M5000 as well. SPECviewperf scores are improved across the board and are almost at the same level as the K5200. It’s a two per cent difference here or five per cent there –impressive, since this card costs half as much.

But given the M5000 is a solid but fairly slim upgrade over the K5200 (see the review on the previous page) you begin to wonder if the added expense of the M5000 is worth it. For most people out there a £750 difference is no small change, and the two cards now have the same memory capacity, which will mean one less barrier to 3D applications at 4K resolution.

PNY Nvidia Quadro M4000 review

Let’s look at the figures. In LuxMark 3.0’s OpenCL LuxBall test the M4000 scores 7943, the K5200 gets 6430 and the M5000 10418. This is a difference of 30 per cent or so.

Of course the M5000 is faster as it offers a better overall specification. In sw-03 in SPECviewperf the M4000 scores 98.88, the K5200 scores 104.63 and the M5000 gets a score of 122.72. Again, this is about a 25 per cent performance difference.

That’s a percentage that is worth it for some, but perhaps not so much for others, given that there is a notable price difference and this is a subject that’s a worthy topic of debate among digital artists.

It’s also a nightmare for any technology company, making their own mid-range product so good it seriously cannibalises sales of the pricier model. Nvidia probably isn’t actually worried as the M5000 will most likely sell very well anyway, but even raising the question shows how the M4000 is the true shining light in Nvidia’s new Maxwell Quadro line-up.


Mid-range workstations just became a lot more powerful

Features – 5/5
Performance – 4.5/5
Design – 4.5/5
Value for money – 4.5/5

Overall – 4.5/5

  • Stylinred

    Hey all, I hope someone reads this… Is it true that the only way to get the benefit of a 10bit display (over a typical 8 bit) is to use a Quadro/Firepro card? or do I still get benefits from a 10 bit display, outside of photo editing software?

  • Wizuma

    It is true in most cases that you need a Quardro or Firepro for 10bit. If I remember correctly the Geforce GPUs from the 2xx series and after can use 10bit, if the computer runs a fullscreen DirectX application (Most photo editing software I know of use OpenGL). Regarding the AMDs non Firepro. I have read somewhere that AMDs high end gaming GPUs can use 10bit, but only on the software side. The software will see the computer runs 10bit but the GPU actually only sends a 8bit signal to the display.

  • Stylinred

    Hi, thanks so much for the response!
    I had purchased a screen meant for photo/video editors, assuming i would get the benefits of the monitor, even outside of photoshop/lightroom which i do enjoy playing around with.
    But now it seem I paid too much for something i wont see the benefits from unless I bought a really high-end/pro video card 🙁
    Thanks for the reply!

  • Seerak

    I’m still trying to find out if the M4000 has the same memory segmentation issue that its consumer sibling, the GTX 970, has. Nobody’s said it has, but nobody (so far) has said it hasn’t. The only indication is the core count – 1664 – is the same, and that’s what causes the issue.