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What graphics card should one buy?

What graphics card should one buy?

Posted Jul 5, 2010 16:15 UTC (Mon) by rbrito (subscriber, #66188)
Parent article: A line in the sand for graphics drivers

I think that what I am posting here may be a silly question, but what should one user buy, in face of the current situation?

I would like to put together a new system for my development and one part that I have never understood very well is that related to graphics, particularly in the sense of being able to use it in its full potential.

The situation for desktops is now more comfortable, but it is still not 100% clear for a luser: for instance, its it OK to buy nvidia hardware? The idea that I may be supporting a company that only has its hardware working with reverse-engineered drivers doesn't seem right.

In comparison, AMD/ATI cards seem like they "should have the blessings", but the last time I saw the features that the radeon/radeonhd cards support, it had a good amount TODO items for cards for some time...

http://www.x.org/wiki/RadeonFeature
http://www.x.org/wiki/radeonhd%3Afeature
http://www.x.org/wiki/RadeonProgram

So, what should one Freedom-conscious user choose in face of the current situation?

Thanks for any comments.


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What graphics card should one buy?

Posted Jul 5, 2010 17:04 UTC (Mon) by nix (subscriber, #2304) [Link]

ATI cards have a few TODOs left, but they *work*. Composition works. 3d works well enough for things like scorched3d to work. Shaders don't work yet, but they don't work for *any* cards under Linux (the Mesa layers aren't stable yet: that's part of Gallium). (That the features list says MOSTLY for all of these simply says that the drivers are ready when Gallium is, AIUI.)

Of the r600/r700 TODOs on that list:

Video decoding using the 3D engine and UVD do not prevent video playback: they only mean that the CPU has to do the video decoding. If you could play back a video on a lesser card, you'll be able to play it back on r600/r700 right now. Shaders are awaiting Gallium. Antialiasing I don't know about; HDMI audio I don't pay attention to as I've got no hardware that cares about it.

What graphics card should one buy?

Posted Jul 5, 2010 19:11 UTC (Mon) by svena (guest, #20177) [Link]

Shaders very much work in Mesa, and on the Intel side, at least as far as GLSL 1.20.

It's also starting to appear for the (Gallium) r300 driver.

I agree

Posted Jul 30, 2010 17:22 UTC (Fri) by moxfyre (guest, #13847) [Link]

AMD/ATI have their hearts and/or heads in the right place. They are supported full-featured 3D drivers with documentation and developer time. Most things work already (it's amazing how fast a 3D driver can be developed when the vendor cooperates!), and insofar as a few things don't, it's not because of vendor obstruction but just because of the large amount of complex code and documentation that has to be produced.

On the other hand, Nvidia has *never* helped with the development of the open-source Nouveau drivers. Those only work because of reverse-engineering.

Intel has been cooperating with and funding open-source graphics driver development for the longest time, so their drivers work well for nearly everything. Intel graphics on my laptop work flawlessly with suspend/HDMI/kernel mode-setting, etc. etc. etc.

So yeah, Intel > ATI > Nvidia in terms of practical features, and Intel ~ ATI >> Nvidia in terms of "vendor doing the right thing these days."

What graphics card should one buy?

Posted Jul 5, 2010 17:36 UTC (Mon) by bronson (subscriber, #4806) [Link]

In my experience: Intel > ATI > nVidia

There are exceptions of course (Intel's GMA500 screwup) but, in general, I try to go with Intel if you value compatibility and stability, and ATI if you want performance and don't mind wrestling with the drivers a bit.

This is the type of wrestling I mean, nothing major: http://bugs.freedesktop.org/show_bug.cgi?id=19943

What graphics card should one buy?

Posted Jul 5, 2010 18:23 UTC (Mon) by salimma (subscriber, #34460) [Link]

That's my experience too, but be warned that the latest ATI chipset (Evergreen a.k.a. R5xxx) is still not fully usable with the open-source driver; no clock-throttling (bad for battery life) and no DRI support yet, despite the hardware being released last autumn.

My netbook (Intel graphics) can perform 3D effects that puts my laptop (ATi) to shame, and the power drain from the GPU means I barely get 90 minutes of usage out of the standard battery.

What graphics card should one buy?

Posted Jul 6, 2010 18:38 UTC (Tue) by rriggs (subscriber, #11598) [Link]

Let's be clear: 1 year old ATI > current nVidia.

I cannot speak for Intel, as their video hardware isn't in the same league as the other two.

With proprietary drivers, nVidia wins hands down for ease of use.

OpenCL (GPGPU) support using open source drivers is non-existent. One must use proprietary drivers. And for this, I prefer ATI.

What graphics card should one buy?

Posted Jul 8, 2010 1:09 UTC (Thu) by brouhaha (subscriber, #1698) [Link]

I think there's little question that the nVidia proprietary drivers are good. I buy ATI rather than nVidia, even though I currently run proprietary drivers, because ATI supports open source while nVidia does not. nVidia is arguably more hostile toward open source than Microsoft.

If you need Blender, stick with proprietary nVidia

Posted Jul 7, 2010 9:02 UTC (Wed) by sdalley (subscriber, #18550) [Link]

If you're thinking of using Blender3D, the proprietary nVidia driver is the only reliable game in town at the moment.

On the X.org wiki RadeonProgram support matrix, Blender3D support is recorded as GOLD for the older Radeon R300 series. Looking at the small print, this means "(Blender) 2.49 requires low impact fallbacks to draw all interface symbols (stipple lines for lamp types, etc), but that affects speed. 2.50 requiries changing triple buffer mode to something else, or unusable (app problem, it seems to happen with other brands and operating systems too)."

The more recent R500 R600 series chipset support is rated as GARBAGE/UNKNOWN. The current R700 is SILVER, which, being translated, means "(26 Oct 2009) [mesa-git] Crashes on many operations and does not update its interface correctly."

For Blender, Radeon is not quite there yet, in other words. Stick with programs marked PLATINUM in the support matrix if you actually need to get stuff done.

If you need Blender, stick with proprietary nVidia

Posted Jul 7, 2010 22:12 UTC (Wed) by svena (guest, #20177) [Link]

Don't rely too much on the RadeonProgram wiki page, much of the information is quite outdated . Possibly because updating it is such a hassle.

If you need Blender, stick with proprietary nVidia

Posted Jul 8, 2010 19:23 UTC (Thu) by robert_s (subscriber, #42402) [Link]

"For Blender, Radeon is not quite there yet, in other words. Stick with programs marked PLATINUM in the support matrix if you actually need to get stuff done."

Nonsense. I've been using blender on my r200 with the open radeon driver for years without problems.

What graphics card should one buy?

Posted Jul 8, 2010 19:35 UTC (Thu) by robert_s (subscriber, #42402) [Link]

"So, what should one Freedom-conscious user choose in face of the current situation?"

AMD.

The Free drivers work fine for most uses. If you find yourself needing a particular advanced feature, you can use the nonfree driver until the Free one supports it.


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