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ATI/AMD driver stability

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August 12, 2008 8:12:37 AM

Hi all,

I want to buy a new computer soon and I am a little undecided on the video card. I have a budget of 2000-2500 EUR so I want top notch.

The thing is I will probably keep this system for 2-3 years so stability is the most important thing for me.

The way I see it I can choose between a NVIDIA GTX 280 and the newly released AMD Radeon HD 4870 X2.

The AMD Radeon HD 4870 X2 seems a better solution, but...

I and all the friends I know have had problems with ATI drivers (before ATI was taken over by AMD). Constant blue screen, games not working at all and so on.

My question is: is this still the case?
Are NVIDIA drivers better that ATI's ?
Or they are mostly the same?

One more thing. Has the driver situation on linux changed or NVIDIA is still the king?


Thank you for your time.
August 12, 2008 8:16:05 AM

who cares about drivers, it's all about the hardware baby
August 12, 2008 8:25:07 AM

bpogdowz said:
who cares about drivers, it's all about the hardware baby


WTF???
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a c 130 U Graphics card
August 12, 2008 9:00:19 AM


Hi astrotzky, welcome to the forum.

I wouldn't say one was better than the other, to be brutally honest about it about 99.9% of driver issues come down to bad installation policy by the user, and are generally caused by conflicts with old driver parts that haven't been uninstalled correctly in the first place.
I have only ever used ATI cards(no reason it just happened that way) so couldn't speak with any certainty about Nvidia but have never had an issue with ATI drivers that couldn't be remedied quickly and easily. Heck in the old days i even used to straight install over the top of the old ones and never had and serious issues. Not that i would do that now of course. Provided you use a decent driver cleaning APP and i always go to Add and remove programs to check if any thing got left behind. I also remove the install folder as well, and as i say never had a problem

Linux,
I did read something about AMD improving this area but am unsure of the details, so as far as i know at the minute Nvidia would still be the best bet for that OS but im not 100% sure.

Mactronix
a c 175 U Graphics card
a b À AMD
August 12, 2008 9:11:02 AM

Its funny you say that. I've owned several recent ATI cards, including one "odd" one that was an AIW card. None of them ever gave me fits or problems. I do have some issues getting the advanced profile in CCC to load with my X1800XT, but I go into the drivers so little that its not really a problem.

I have no experience with recent Nvidia cards, linux, and x2 cards, so I can't speak first hand about that. The only issue that I'm aware of with current AMD cards are driver issues with AGP x1950pros. (newer 2600pros might be affected to)
August 12, 2008 9:36:13 AM

mactronix said:
Hi astrotzky, welcome to the forum.

I wouldn't say one was better than the other, to be brutally honest about it about 99.9% of driver issues come down to bad installation policy by the user, and are generally caused by conflicts with old driver parts that haven't been uninstalled correctly in the first place.
I have only ever used ATI cards(no reason it just happened that way) so couldn't speak with any certainty about Nvidia but have never had an issue with ATI drivers that couldn't be remedied quickly and easily. Heck in the old days i even used to straight install over the top of the old ones and never had and serious issues. Not that i would do that now of course. Provided you use a decent driver cleaning APP and i always go to Add and remove programs to check if any thing got left behind. I also remove the install folder as well, and as i say never had a problem


i Agree with this dude,


I have two ATI agp cards running at home and never had problems with them. I have also bought a Sapphire HD3870 for my brother's pc, though i'm still waiting for the motherboard to arrive, so i can't give feedback about that
August 12, 2008 10:57:00 AM

I agree with most of these posts. The only time i've had problems with the drivers it was fixed by a cleanup and reinstall. Now that being said, I have NEVER had to do a cleanup with NVidia drivers. The last card I had was NVidia and I would go to their site to install new drivers almost weekly. They like to put out those drivers! Each time I would click the link, save, extract, run, restart and poof, no problems. Granted, I only ran into issue with ATI a couple times, but still seems odd that their own installer won't clean out the crap first. Just my opinion.
August 12, 2008 10:59:14 AM

He man,

For your money you probably could buy more than you need, but try not to use Windows Vista if you are a gamer. It doesn`t costs the nerves and reinstall the windows 2000 something, not the 3 /by words - three/ games that you can, but most probably you will not play. Because they are in complete different styles and not lasts forever.
The drivers are just drivers - the mactronix and others already tells - clean tje old - install the new, play the game.
The choise ATI or NVIDIA is your only - they have dedicated players and I am one of them.
I vote for ATI for the 8AA and 16AF, plus other visual details available. With HD 3870, 512 MB the only problem that I have is that there are no much game supporting high-quality options. And to play over 1280x1024 by my opinion is useless - I don`t have "eagle eye".
My CPU is AMD Athlon 3500+, and I don`t need a new yet. And probably a year after.
I will made an upgrade to dual-core AMD 64x2 6000+ but becouse I just want it.
With 2x1 GB PQI memory 667MHZ I am quite well.

Who care for LINUX?

My question is: is this still the case?
Are NVIDIA drivers better that ATI's ?
Or they are mostly the same?

One more thing. Has the driver situation on linux changed or NVIDIA is still the king?


Thank you for your time.[/quotemsg]
August 12, 2008 11:04:01 AM

i used both ati n nvidia over last 2yrs.i say ati driver is much more frendly then nvidia.plus ati releases ati driver everi mnth no matter what. i cant remember when i last updated ma 9600GT coz they don release any....(i don use beta.)

som ppl complain bout performance issue wit ati driver, but recentli their driver hav come a long way
August 12, 2008 11:09:07 AM

Vorador_21 said:
He man,

Who care for LINUX?

One more thing. Has the driver situation on linux changed or NVIDIA is still the king?



i thought no one cares bout linux.....so y do u ask????
August 12, 2008 11:13:29 AM

linux sux butt, hard to use and very impractical for average joe. it could never beat windows, no wonder oem stucks with windows. MS knows how to make easy-to-use os.

OSX sux too btw
August 12, 2008 11:28:24 AM

astrotzky said:

Are NVIDIA drivers better that ATI's ?


I would say it is role reversal.


Certainly, the indications were that bad Nvidia drivers caused the majority of vista crashes.



ATI now update very regularly as others have said.
a b U Graphics card
August 12, 2008 11:48:16 AM

A: I'm still waiting to see evidence that NVIDIA causes a lot of Vista crashes. I play with about 100-125 people online regualrly, all with NVIDIAs, and not one has crashed under Vista yet....

B: Since the 4850/70 has come out, these forums have been flooded with "My 4850 wont display to my moniter" and "why isnt the card better". I love how the ATI fanatics have gone from "The upcoming 8.7 drivers will fix performance" to "the drivers aren't perfect yet" in just over a week.

C: The 4850 is still only 9800GTX level of performance. And even the X2 should strugle in CF, due to the nature of quad SLI. I REALLY want to see benches for 2x 4870X2's vs. 2x 280's...

D: NVIDIA has its "Big Bang II" drivers on the way. I'm expecting some decent performance gains.

E: With more and more games making use of physX (trust me, a LOT more are in development for physX then for Havok), NVIDIA's ability to run the physX library on its cards makes them much more desirable. Yes, nothing is stoping ATI from doing the same, except its investment in the Havok engine.
a c 130 U Graphics card
August 12, 2008 12:25:48 PM


OK

As far as A. goes http://www.reghardware.co.uk/2008/03/28/nvidia_vista_dr...

B. I haven't noticed any great overwhelming flood of posts as you put it. sure there are some as there always is with cards from both camps in fact i just counted and its 6/4 with ATI having the 6 so its not disproportionate.

C. The 4850 was only aimed at the 8800GT (G92 version) so its doing pretty well to be swapping blows with the 9800GTX.
You are quite right teh X2 does struggle in CF some games it even drags the score down. Take yourself to Tweaktown to see the tests http://www.tweaktown.com/reviews/1541/sapphire_radeon_h... :) 

D. Pass. But then again its probably going to feature Physx somewhere so people will say it don't count as Futuremark wont endorse it. etc. Personally i would think most enthusiasts wouldn't give a rats arse where or how the performance got there as long as it did.

E. See above
a b U Graphics card
August 12, 2008 1:28:56 PM

A: You forget to mentain the artile about driver stability was written in 2007; unless you had a 3870x2, you all had 8800's under vista to run DX10. Hence, the larger proportion of errors. If you adjust the grpah to account for how many people had NVIDIA cards compated to ATI cards back in 2007, the issues are quite minor. Besides, its 2008 now, and I haven't seen anyone with driver related isses (short of a bad uninstall, which both NVIDIA and ATI have issues with).

B: Just search online (or even here to a lesser extent) for "4850 crash" or "4850 driver". Do the same with a NVIDIA card, and most of the posts you find are quite ancient, as the issues with drivers are usually quickly resolved.

C: I don't care what the card was aimed at; I care about what it does. Fact is, the 4850 can't compete with high end cards. Is it a great budget card? Hell yes. But not a high end card.

Also regarding the X2, the extra hardware path that is currently disabled; apparently, the path is NOT required, so its possible cards will ship with the extra path removed entireley. Can't see that hurting coustomer relations any...

source: http://www.anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=3372&p=3

Quote:
The reference 4870 X2 design includes hardware support for the CrossFire Sideport, assuming AMD would ever want to enable it via a software update. However, there's no hardware requirement that the GPU-to-GPU connection is included on partner designs. My concern is that in an effort to reduce costs we'll see some X2s ship without the Sideport traces laid out on the PCB, and then if AMD happens to enable the feature in its drivers later on some X2 users will be left in the dark.


D & E: Physics are becomming more and more important in gameplay, and NVIDIA currently has the edge in that department. Its a minor fact now, but if some games (backbreaker *cough*) do what I expect, then in-game physics will take off during the next year. That makes the point quite relevent.
August 12, 2008 1:55:33 PM

If your buy a GPU to keep for 2 or 3 years then the directX support is more important. Lets face it DX10.1 has been out for a while now and Nvidia to not be compatible with this standard is as dumb as Intel thinking T&L support wasn't needed. If you want an Nvidia GPU wait till early next year for their new GPU design.

If your plans is to buy a high cost CPU I suggest again wait for core i7 and get the 8 core version. I would only suggest a cheap Q6600 or a very cheap dual core in the sub 70 EUR range at this time.
a b U Graphics card
August 12, 2008 2:20:38 PM

Do you really think anyone will code a game with a software not supported by 95% of all cards on the market? Seriously, with DX11 comming out early next year, why would anyone bother adding DX 10.1 support?

I bet its at least a year before the first DX10 exclusive game. As long as your card supports DX 10, your fine.
a c 130 U Graphics card
August 12, 2008 2:21:03 PM


A. you never specified which year you just said "I'm still waiting to see evidence that NVIDIA causes a lot of Vista crashes"
Im not trying to argue with you one way or the other im just trying to supply info you seemed to want.

B. Again you said "These forums" As i said i counted and found 6 for ATI and 4 for nvidia (on the first page)

C. Who on this thread said it is a highend card ? You are the one slating a card that you yourself are saying isnt in the same bracket as a 9800GTX for only keeping up with it. :pfff: 

D&E. Im not saying its not relevant im just saying that the purists will start picking holes in it and call it cheating. While enthusiasts will just want the performance and not worry where it comes from.

Mactronix
August 12, 2008 2:42:28 PM

I just bought a 4850 to replace a geforce 6600; I don't own Vista, only an old XP partition rotting away somewhere on my HD. I mainly run Linux.

- driver install on WXP was easy: uninstall Nvidia's graphics driver, install Ati, reboot: voilà. It runs very well.
- driver install on Linux was a bit more difficult, because I wanted the latest and greatest - otherwise, it was point'n'click.

Ever since Catalyst 8.42, the proprietary Linux driver (named fglrx) uses the same, overhauled OpenGL stack that the Windows driver uses. Most high-profile games and scientific softwares work well, and sometimes even kick Nvidia's butt. It also includes features not found in the Nvidia driver: 2D acceleration is much better with Ati than Nvidia, making browsing, office etc. a better experience.

This driver is however much younger, and has some annoying bugs:
- lack of vertical sync on full-screen video playback induces some tearing (YMMV)
- Checkerboard of Death bug (seems to affect 16/10 resolutions mainly)
- 4870 X2 will work as 'normal' 4870 due to lack of Crossfire support - coming
- Wine being developed against the Nvidia driver mainly, some features don't work (shaders are shaky) and performance isn't always top of the line - improving in time.

Using the card is literally plug'n'play if you use one of the Free drivers (radeon or radeonHD). Support is improving weekly, and driver updates come with distro updates every few weeks (or daily if you're a git/CVS code compiling freak).

To sum up:
- if you intend to work, browse, program, etc. under Linux and play under Windows, an Ati card will do the trick better than an Nvidia card
- if you stay under Windows, Ati cards are now a better deal than Nvidia ones (better performance/price ratio; driver is also less subject to bloat)
- if you use Linux for 3D eye candy, running Wine and generally not working, Nvidia is better (better featured OpenGL driver, which helps somewhat with Compiz)
- if you work under Linux and need a fast desktop, Ati with the 'radeon' or 'radeonHD' drivers is better (Nvidia's 'nouveau' driver is far too difficult for the average Joe to install, although its 2D performances are nothing short of astounding)
- if you intend to keep the card for a while, Ati is a good investment: AtomBIOS and published hardware specs make legacy hardware support easier than Nvidia.
a b U Graphics card
August 12, 2008 2:59:59 PM

nVidia was sued for non compliant DX10 drivers. Its fact the DX10 drivers caused the most amount of Vista crashes. I waited for almost 6 months for a driver update, meanwhile nVidia was making their 9800GTX, their x2, renaming every card they had, ands I still think those 169 drivers were more stable than anything Ive tried since. Never had a problem with my ATI cards, and only recently with nVidia drivers. Complaining about the "other" drivers is sour grapes, especially if youve never owned the "other" cards. I was satisfied with nVidias drivers, and with ATIs. This is just one way people can try to look good for their cards, by trying to put down other drivers. Forget about the performance. Also, while nVidia was putting out their 9800GTX, they charged thru the wazoo for it, until the 4850 came around and kicked it where your voice changes octaves. Same with all the over priced nVidia cards. These threads come up all the time to slowly errode just how good ATIs cards are, not just in performance, but in customer positives, like price. Almost every driver issue Ive seen is PEBKAC, and thats the truth
August 12, 2008 3:14:29 PM

gamerk316 said:
Do you really think anyone will code a game with a software not supported by 95% of all cards on the market? Seriously, with DX11 comming out early next year, why would anyone bother adding DX 10.1 support?

I bet its at least a year before the first DX10 exclusive game. As long as your card supports DX 10, your fine.

With DX11 coming out they will never be an exclusive DX10 game. The problem here is DX11 and DX10.1 exclusive in 2 years. In 2 or 3 years software will not support 95% of the GPU's on the market. Your ideals are based on current time when the OP is asking 2 or 3 years down the road.
August 12, 2008 4:26:56 PM

gamerk316 said:
<SNIP>



Fanboi alert methinks...
!