NVIDIA GeForce 8200
Written by Michael Larabel in Graphics Cards on 20 June 2008. Page 7 of 7. 12 Comments

The benchmarks that have been published by other media outlets comparing the Radeon HD 3200 to GeForce 8200 on Microsoft Windows have all been in favor of the NVIDIA IGP. Under Linux, however, we were surprised to see the Radeon HD 3200 hold its ground to the GeForce 8200 and even outperform it in some instances. The only test where the NVIDIA GPU seemed to work better was with 2D performance within GtkPerf -- likely since lately NVIDIA has been optimizing the RENDER extension and making other 2D improvements while AMD has yet to officially introduced Textured X Renderer. As far as the reasoning goes for the Radeon HD 3200 performing more competitively under Linux is due to the latest advancements with the Catalyst Linux driver or the NVIDIA engineers having yet to tap the full potential of the GeForce 8200 (or likely is just a combination of both factors).

The NVIDIA GeForce 8500GT, which is now a sub-$50 USD graphics card, was on average running 150% the speed of both integrated parts and faster. Seeing how cheap this discrete graphics card is, even for the casual gamer they would be better off with the 8500GT or a similar discrete solution. The GeForce 8500GT with the GeForce 8200 motherboards do support Hybrid Power/SLI, but to much dismay, NVIDIA doesn't intend to support the Hybrid technologies under Linux.

With power management becoming an important feature, it is quite surprising that NVIDIA will not be supporting Hybrid Power technology under Linux and with PowerMizer there is only a single state available. On the AMD side there is PowerPlay. The GeForce 8200 had idled at about 47°C and under load was in the mid 54~60°C range. However, motherboard vendors are able to passively cool this chipset as you can see from the small aluminum heatsink on the ECS GF8200A.

Video playback is another popular task for these integrated parts. On the NVIDIA side, they do not -- nor do they have any plans to -- support XvMC on the GeForce 8 (and later) series. XvMC, or X-Video Motion Compensation, is an extension to X-Video for offloading some of the video decoding process to the GPU, thereby taxing the CPU less. Presently XvMC is limited to MPEG-2 support, but back at FOSDEM it was discussed that XvMC may be extended to support more standards. For the Radeon HD 3200, the leading video playback option is through X-Video. However, AMD has been quiet on stating any future plans for video playback.

For those concerned about open-source support, the Radeon HD 3200 / 780G is hands-down the superior choice. The Nouveau developers are still busy reverse engineering the GeForce 8/9 series with it being far from stable. NVIDIA's xf86-video-nv driver is limited to 2D acceleration and its code is poorly written. RadeonHD now supports the 780G and through AtomBIOS it's supported by the Radeon driver. Both of these open-source ATI drivers are constantly improving and AMD continues to release new documentation to the open-source community.

Depending upon how you plan to use the system, the GPU to go with may vary. If you are dual booting and using Windows, the GeForce 8200 offers heightened performance but under Linux the performance is quite similar. The Linux performance though could change depending upon NVIDIA and AMD driver updates. If open-source is your key concern or supporting companies that foster the community, then without a doubt the Radeon HD 3200 or another Radeon HD product is what you will want. Video playback right now is a mixed topic. NVIDIA doesn't support XvMC for the GeForce 8 series (nor do they have any plans to), but in general video playback is smooth with X-Video and its customers are usually satisfied. On the ATI side through the proprietary fglrx driver, X-Video is right now the main option and some users have had different feelings about it -- for more information check out the Phoronix Forums. Though AMD has been constantly working to improve their Linux driver since past fall, so they may have other plans for video support later on. From here, the choice is up to you.

Additional reviews on graphics cards, motherboards, and other products can be found at TestFreaks.com.

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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 20,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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