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  • ATI or Nvidia?

    It's been a while since I've been following which binary drivers (and their cards) have the best performance under Linux. I've been a die-hard ATI/AMD fan for a long time, but last I heard (which was over a year ago) ATI had really fallen behind in the 3D support under Linux. Is this still the case? I am interested in AIGLX and XGL... which one of these is best support and by which driver/card combo?

  • #2
    Personally, I've had nothing but trouble and headaches with previous ATI cards, so my suggestion is to stay as far away from them as possible. I know some will say "but hey, they're improving constantly etc.", but fact of the matter is NVIDIA is still lightyears ahead of them in both speed and ease of installation.

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    • #3
      Well, you want AIGLX so at this very moment you would need to use NVIDIA or the open-source Radeon driver for R200/R300 graphics.

      At this time you would also want NVIDIA if you are after pure frame-rate in gaming. The image quality for the Radeon X1000 series has absolutely no problems under Linux.

      I don't really think there is a installation problem with the fglrx drivers. Except for a few scenarios where you get a few problems, the installation is easier than NVIDIA's installer. NVIDIA's installer also has a few problems of its own.

      You may also want to keep in mind when upgrading the rumors of AMD open-sourcing parts of the driver.

      If you have any other questions just post, and I am sure many others will also share their opinions.
      Michael Larabel
      http://www.michaellarabel.com/

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      • #4
        Short answer, nVidia.

        Long answer, you have to see what you are after with your graphics card. I agree with Michael's assessment but I'd rather not think about AMD open-sourcing drivers because rumors are rumors and should be treated with a grain of salt. But, if you are going to chose ATi, you might consider checking out the R200 cards as the hardware support is quite good. It's even easier to setup than nVIDIA's own drivers.

        As far as newer ATi hardware goes, you're out of luck with the framerates.

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        • #5
          The whole idea of ATI/AMD open-sourcing their graphics drivers is almost enough for me to wait around. But I remember a couple of years ago how much ATI had to go in catching up with Nvidia on Linux 3D video performance... it doesn't sound like it's changed much in this amount of time. I may be buying my first Nvidia card this year.

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          • #6
            ATI has quickly caught up when it comes to features (e.g. dynamic display management, aticonfig, PowerPlay, etc....) but they still lack when it comes to performance. The installer is likely much better as well since the last time you looked at them.
            Michael Larabel
            http://www.michaellarabel.com/

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            • #7
              I have had all 3 categories of GPU, so here's my experiences:

              1. My old ATi RV250 GPU (Radeon Mobility 9000) and the Xorg OSS "radeon" driver + DRI works pretty well. I currently have AIGLX + Beryl up on this and it works like a charm.

              2. My desktop's former NVIDIA 6200TC with the NVIDIA binary drivers ran XGL + Compiz as well as AIGLX + Beryl just fine. It was just too weak to drive a pair of 1600x1200 monitors and also lacked the second DVI-out port, so I replaced it.

              3. My desktop's new ATi Radeon x1900GT with the ATi fglrx drivers works fine with XGL + Beryl on one monitor (XGL is single-head-only ATM.) AIGLX does not work. The fglrx drivers did use to stink, but now I've had no more problems with them than I have with the NVIDIA drivers- read: very little. There still is the little XVideo bug on amd64 for the drivers, but setting your video player apps to output to OpenGL instead of XVideo works. This has been fixed in the 32-bit builds in the current 8.30 drivers and should be fixed for amd64 in the next round of drivers.

              So my recommendations:

              1. If you want to run a dual-head setup, forget XGL and possibly AIGLX as well. XGL does not work on dual-head setups and I don't think AIGLX does either.

              2. If you are running a 32-bit machine, both cards will work equally well. Buy whatever brand you like. I personally think that ATi's video quality is better than NVIDIA's.

              3. If you are running a 64-bit box, NVIDIA's driver supports XVideo and ATI's does not. This may or may not mean much to you. I run my x1900GT on amd64 and it is fine for me.

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              • #8
                Just to clarify, the x86_64 bug on X 6.9+ systems with TexturedVideo / Avivo (X-Video) should be fixed fairly soon I believe.
                Michael Larabel
                http://www.michaellarabel.com/

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by niniendowarrior View Post
                  I agree with Michael's assessment but I'd rather not think about AMD open-sourcing drivers because rumors are rumors and should be treated with a grain of salt.
                  Indeed. It's naught but a rumor right at the moment and I don't see that changing from my perspective... We'll just have to see, won't we? (But I'm not holding MY breath for it- I look terrible in blues and purples...)

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Svartalf View Post
                    Indeed. It's naught but a rumor right at the moment and I don't see that changing from my perspective... We'll just have to see, won't we? (But I'm not holding MY breath for it- I look terrible in blues and purples...)
                    I agree about not holding your (or my own) breath. I'm buying one of the 8800 series cards (cheapest one I can find) since the benchmarks I've found all show a huge increase in performance with these cards (most likely a GTS version though to save as much money as possible). Although I've put together a couple of desktop computers for family and friends, it's been years since I've had a desktop of my own... I feel good about spending the needed money after waiting so long.
                    Last edited by joshuapurcell; 11-14-2006, 11:21 PM.

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                    • #11
                      Hopefully this is not thread hi-jacking

                      I have an Asus P5W DH board which has 2x16x PCI-e slots. When I built the computer, I bought an X1900XT 256MB card, and I am for the most part very happy with it. I enjoy CS:S, so I would like to have decent performance, but I have to agree that Nvidia works better on Linux. My question is this: How difficult would it be if I decided to keep my ATI for the main card and used my 2nd slot ONLY for Linux? It would be easy to disable the Nvidia 2nd slot card in Windows, but I'm not sure how I would go about setting up the Xorg config file. Anyone tried this or see a problem with it?

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                      • #12
                        From the ASUS P5W DH BIOS are you able to disable either of the PCI Express slots? If so, then it would easy to disable one of the slots.

                        If you only want to use one of the cards in Linux, just have a device section for that card in xorg.conf and don't worry about the other card.
                        Michael Larabel
                        http://www.michaellarabel.com/

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                        • #13
                          Yeah, that's what I mean - I want to have both cards AVAILABLE to the computer, but for windows I want to use the ATI, and for Linux I want to use the Nvidia. I'm just not sure how to go about the xorg config settings. I guess once you run the Nvidia installer and it configures xorg.conf, you can safely remove all mentions of the ATI card?

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                          • #14
                            Yes, after you set the system up for NVIDIA you can delete ATI references.
                            Michael Larabel
                            http://www.michaellarabel.com/

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by afterburntdw View Post
                              Yeah, that's what I mean - I want to have both cards AVAILABLE to the computer, but for windows I want to use the ATI, and for Linux I want to use the Nvidia. I'm just not sure how to go about the xorg config settings. I guess once you run the Nvidia installer and it configures xorg.conf, you can safely remove all mentions of the ATI card?
                              I don't see this being a problem for Linux, and now that I think about it I guess it wouldn't be a problem in Windows either (although I haven't tried it). There are two things here that would rule it out for me though: 1)Having to switch the monitor cable at each OS change and 2)Always having one card that isn't doing anything except blocking airflow in my case. I would bite the bullet and just go with whichever works best considering both OS environments.

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