I need to run an astronomy software package ( Starry Night Pro 6 ) that has graphics requirements beyond my current Matrox card.
SNP needs a video card of > 96MB VRAM, and OpenGL 2.0 capability.
I will also use this machine for a fair amount of image processing with Photoshop and some specific astronomical image processing packages.
I am running WXP SP3 on a Dell PowerEdge 830 server. I currently have a Matrox P650 LP card w/ 64 MB of VRAM. I'm running two digital monitors, so dual DVI supporting large screen (>1280x1054) is a must. The Dell has a 420 watt power supply. I clearly don't need high-end gaming capability, but the current card is not cutting it and I'd rather not replace again in a year. What can / should I get that will meet my needs?
Go with the nvidia if you do Photoshop, as CS4 is going to have the ability to run via your graphics card, and process images faster. It is certainly able to run on nvidia cards, but I'm not sure about ATI cards. The 8800 GT is a few dollars more than the 8600 but considerably faster, but both support CUDA, and you probably wouldn't notice the difference between the two cards, when compared to the CPU. In the end it depends on what your doing with the cards. (not sure if 8800gt comes in anything but PCIe 2.0 x16)