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NVIDIA or AMD for photography? (No gaming.)

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  • NVIDIA or AMD for photography? (No gaming.)

    I'm looking for a video card (and best platform) recommendation for a new box I'm planning to build.

    I am *not* a gamer--I do still photography--but I *may* to get into doing time-lapse videos in the future.

    I presently have a GeForce 9800 XT, but I've not been happy with the Nouveau drivers, nor the proprietary NVIDIA driver (331.113) as supplied via the Driver Manager under Linux Mint 17.1 (LTS) KDE (64-bit).

    It's been sometime since I last looked at the NVIDIA site for drivers, and it looks like they've made some improvements over the last two years or so. Also, reading some of the latest posts here at Phoronix, I see where AMD appears to be putting in a lot of work on their Catalyst driver for Linux, with a new package out just this month.

    I'm looking at something like the ASUS X99-A LGA 2011-v3 motherboard for my build.

    So I don't know which way I should go: NVIDIA or AMD?

    I do high-end photography (using large RAW image files), I stream videos and watch DVDs. I have a fairly high-end monitor as well.

    Any thoughts on whether I should go with NVIDIA or AMD? And what should I look for in a card as far as performance and RAM for photography?


  • #2
    In your case I don't think it'll matter too much. It sounds like the open source AMD drivers would work just fine for you. As of this time any card supported by the radeon kernel driver and the radeonsi mesa driver sounds like it'll work good. If you wait a little while the amdgpu kernel driver will support the newest round of AMD cards with radeonsi supporting them in mesa.

    For the CPU I gotta recommend Intel for you. Pretty much any one of them. Even the mid range chips are outperforming the highest end AMD chips. I hope that changes when Zen launches next year, but for now you might as well just go Intel. And for that matter, I think intels latest round of APUs with eDRAM are worth looking into as well. That integrated GPU would probably be ok for you. (although imo vdpau is better than va-api for video decoding, so maybe not)
    Last edited by duby229; 06-26-2015, 10:43 PM.


    • #3
      Vdpau is not better. VLC had first only Vaapi, now handles both. Kodi, mpv can use both. You can even use encoders with Intel via Vaapi. But: s2011-3 chips have got no integrated GFX. I would just reuse any GFX card you have got lying around until Nvidia releases new 950/940/930 cards with new Maxwell 2 chips (hopefully no rebranded eines like for the mobile ones).


      • #4
        Yeah, I just looked into it and you are right, va-api support has been more widely implemented finally.


        • #5
          Accelerated video encoding/decoding should work fine with any card.

          As you write that you are into high-end photography, do you want a setup which supports 30-bit deep color? Presently, the AMD and NVidia proprietary drivers support 30-bit color in X (in Windows, NVidia requires a Quadro card for this). There has been some work done for the open source radeon driver too, but progress has stalled apparently.


          • #6
            Thanks, all, for the suggestions!

            I guess I'll stick with the GeForce 9800 XT and give the NVIDIA proprietary drivers, from the NVIDIA website, a shot when I get my new box built, while I wait to see what's coming out in the next few months. It sounds like SteamOS is driving some competition between NVIDIA and AMD right now, correct?

            Yes, chithanh, my monitor and card supports 10 bit per channel (30-bits total) deep color. I assume that's what I'm seeing on my monitor? Hm, but I see the NVIDIA X Server Settings GUI is reporting only a "Depth of 24" under "X Screen Information."

            I was being somewhat hyperbolic when I wrote, "high-end photography." I simply wanted to impress on folks that I'd be loading multiple RAW image files (24 MB) in Darktable. Presently, my system bogs down a bit under the load and is somewhat slow exporting the files to TIFFs and JPEGs. So that is why I was wondering about the GPU clock and GFX card RAM. I'm looking at buying the ASUS X99-A LGA 2011-v3 motherboard with the Intel Core i7-5820K Haswell-E 6-Core 3.3GHz LGA 2011-v3 140W processor.



            • #7
              I don't think that Linux tools use OpenCL or CUDA much. 30 bit color depth seems to be a bit tricky, maybe look at the official Nvidia Linux board. Btw. i7-4790k would be interesting as well (or the Skylake successor) and has got integrated GFX.

              Last edited by Kano; 06-28-2015, 06:41 AM.