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[vox-tech] Re: Video card...
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[vox-tech] Re: Video card...

begin R. Douglas Barbieri <doug@dooglio.net> 
> Hey Pete,
> I had a blast on Saturday! Can't wait to do something like that again. 
> Have you heard from Brad, by the way? Also--sorry I couldn't make it to 
> the meeting last night.
yeah, he just emailed me a few hours ago, but i've been too busy to
proces his email just yet.  will get to it in a bit.

> What 3D video card do you recommend for Linux? I am in the market for a 
> new video card, and I'm not sure what the best is. I've heard that NVidia 
> is good, but the manufacturer only releases binary drivers.
the good news is that the radeon is nearly as powerful as the nvidia
cards.  the 2nd generation radeon cards are pretty much neck and neck.
if you have windows, go with radeon all the way.  the radeons win most
(but not all) of the high resolution, high colour benchmarks.

the bad news.  the 1st generation radeon linux drivers are so-so.  they
don't do the card justice, although i have yet to see a game that taxes
my radeon to the point where i wish i had a more powerful card.  the
most graphic intensive game i have is heavy metal fakk2, and the card
can pretty much handle anything the game throws at it on my athlon
1.4GHz.  however, the drivers are also beta.  there are a few graphics
artifacts, although i only see them on heavy metal fakk2 and soldier of
fortune.  there are some things in quake3, but i can't tell if they're
artifacts or if they're supposed to be there.  in any event, they're
pretty.   :-)

the version of X that we all have doesn't support the 2nd generation
radeons.  X version 4.2.0 is slated to support them, though.

i can't in good faith recommend the radeon, but the least i can say is
that i use radeons, and i'm happy with them.  i wouldn't use nvidia
cards because of the binary only policy.  supposedly they can't release
source for drivers because of pieces of opengl code that are licensed.
but frankly, mesa is so good, i can't imagine why they'd be using OpenGL
(note the caps).  to me, it absolutely stinks of not wanting to release
driver details but also not wanting to look like the "bad guy".

in other words, i believe nvidia when they say their hands are tied.
however, i also believe that they're very happy about not being able to
release their code.

for 3d gaming, you also have the options of 3dfx, matrox and TNT.   the
voodoo cards are a cheap option, but of course you'll be buying hardware
of a defunct company.  it'll be ok for quake 3 most of the time, but
you'll run into trouble when the number of players starts to get past 5.
you'll also find games like heavy metal, heretic 2, fakk2 and soldier of
fortune playable, but with annoying lags.  fast fire fights in soldier
of fortune may be difficult.

ditto goes for matrox and TNT.

supposedly, the TNT drivers do hardware anisotropic filtering, but only
for mips mapping.  for actual rendering, it uses trilinear filtering
like everyone else.  i've used the TNT in gaming.  what i said about
3dfx pretty much applies for the TNT.

and the 3d matrox cards.

so your choices are radeon and nvidia.  if you can live with not having
the best and having minor difficulties here and there, go for the 1st
generation radeon.  otherwise, if you want (minorly) superior
performance and can live with non-free drivers, go with nvidia.

on the other hand, if you can wait a few months for everyone to start
using X 4.2.0, you'd probably do good to see what happens with the 2nd
generation radeons.  note that 4.2.0 is already available via cvs.  i
don't know of any distros that have it packaged (i don't follow anyone
but debian though).

btw, one thing about the binary only option.  in the unlikely event that
linus torvalds has sex with nvidia's CEO's wife, and as a result nvidia
stops linux support altogether, you may be stuck with a paperweight
sooner or later.   if the interface of X changes (won't happen for minor
revision changes like 4.1 -> 4.2 but may happen for major revision
changes like 4.* -> 5.*) and nvidia doesn't release updated drivers, you
are SOL.  like i said, this is unlikely, but may happen.

hope this was helpful!


cc'd to vox-tech for archivial purposes.

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