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Some questions about ATI vs Nvidia

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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April 30, 2009 6:30:03 PM

Hi there.

So since my computer is fast becoming nothing more than a pile of junk, I'm forced to build myself a new one. Of course I've been out of the loop for a while, need to relearn everything, etc.

Anyway, one of the things I find most difficult is in choosing whether to go with an AMD-ATI build or an Intel-Nvidia one.

Now I know that my previous computers have always had Nvidia cards, but it was mostly by default. Now I want to really find out what's best for me. So I'd just like to verify some things.

1. Is it true that ATI cards tend to have more driver problems? I know I've never had issues with my Nvidia cards, but as far back as I remember, I've always heard of people having issues with ATI cards for new releases.

2. It seems most of my games have that Nvidia splash screen at the start. Would you say there's more games optimized for Nvidia cards than for ATI?

3. I've heard that the cards support different physics engines. Nvidia would like people to be using PhysX, but it's apparently not very popular? I've heard ATI was optimized to work better with Havok. So, say, an ATI card would work better with source games than a comparable Nvidia card. Is that right?

4. I see a lot of people ask for builds in the 800-1000$ range and this forum tends to suggest ATI cards (4850 HD seems to be popular) and AMD processors. Is it just the "local flavor" or do you think that AMD just dominates in that price range?

5. It seems ATI has always been lagging behind Nvidia, financially. Would you say it's just marketing or is there some more fundamental reason for this?

It's kind of hard to get a clear idea of what's going on.

More about : questions ati nvidia

April 30, 2009 6:39:48 PM

Pretty much with AMD/ATI you get more bang for the buck.
You can go any way though. Both Nvidia and ATI cards will perform great on AMD or INTEL CPU. It all depends what kind of motherboard you get, if you get one that supports Crossfire than go with an ATI product since you can always upgrade to a crossfire in the future, and if you go with an SLI mobo then purchase a Nvidia cards. HD4870 use to be well priced and so are the GTX260 if you plan to go with NVIDIA.
Again it's up to you and how much you are willing to spend.
ATI has gotten far with their driver development in the last few years, so I can say with confidence that their drivers are quite stable.
Of course there are always people complaining about their cards not working but it's mostly due to user error.
People tend to upgrade their hardware and reinstall and upgrade their OSes while doing so they make so many changes that at the end they start experiencing errors. But it's a learning process and eventually you figure out how complete your setup.
Just make sure your follow the power requirements specs, you have a proper airflow in your case, and you use the newest drivers available for Nvidia or ATI, depending on what product you go with. Those seem to be the usual causes for problems.

Cheers and good luck!
a b U Graphics card
April 30, 2009 7:11:18 PM

1) Probably.
2) Marketing.
3) Havok will win in the end because intel own it.
4) There are probably more 260's and 250's sold than 4870's and 4850's.
5) AMD are a far bigger company than Nvidia are but they are drowning in debt.

None of this really makes a difference in terms of building your own pc. Just buy what is the smartest option currently available.
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April 30, 2009 7:42:38 PM

jennyh said:
1) Probably.
2) Marketing.
3) Havok will win in the end because intel own it.
4) There are probably more 260's and 250's sold than 4870's and 4850's.
5) AMD are a far bigger company than Nvidia are but they are drowning in debt.

None of this really makes a difference in terms of building your own pc. Just buy what is the smartest option currently available.

Havok is not gpu based. Untill Havok becomes more than a sdk and crosses over to gpu then it will not put down physx.
a c 197 U Graphics card
a b Î Nvidia
April 30, 2009 7:58:21 PM

@ skarjak:
1: Not had a driver problem since XP was released, with either make. A lot of the problems seem to be cause by poor uninstalls when switching from Nvidia to ATI.

2: I am refusing to reply on that point after taking legal advice.

3:This is a non issue at the moment but PhysX seems to be getting the better of this particular battle.

4: ATI/AMD offer better bang per buck, essential for builders on a tight budget or where the latest and best is simply out of reach. Check out the homebuild forum:) 

5: Nvidia is an older company and, as such dominates partly because it has been able to develop or buy tech and partly because it is just better connected.
a c 107 U Graphics card
a b Î Nvidia
April 30, 2009 7:59:57 PM

First of all the type of system you should go with depends on your budget. If money is no object then the top would be an i7 system with water cooling and two GTX 295s. Since you probably have a more modest budget it just depends. AMD CPUs are good for low to upper mid range builds. As for the video cards ATI and nVidia pretty much trade blows through most setments. On the lower end of things, you can't do much better than the new Radeon 4770 for only $109 as it kicks around the 9800GT and anything cheaper while getting pretty close to the Radeon 4850 and GTS 250. There's no point in comparing all the cards and setups until you identify a budget and what you want to use your computer for.
April 30, 2009 8:27:02 PM

my $.02

ATI and nvidia cards are so close in games that there is no way to tell the difference from one to the other. What it really comes down to is a couple of things.

1) what do you want to do with the card. ie: games, folding@home etc
2) who do you like more

The ATI drivers are fine although I would say that there seems to be more flexibilty for over clocking with the ATI Catalyst Control Center.

HD4850 = GTS250
HD4870 = GTX260 core 216
HD4890 = GTX275
HD4890 OC'd gets close to the GTX280
HD4870x2 does not = GTX295 but at this level it is hard to be unhappy either gpu.

Here is what I use to determine which card to use.
1) I run folding@home 24/7
2) which mobo I use

I have an x48 chipset but because of folding@home I use Nvidia gpu's. The Nvidia gpu's are far superior to the ATI when you look at folding@home stats but there is a draw back to that. The nvidia is not able to scale back the folding@home app to run in the background when my kids are using the comp for games etc. Consequently the folding@home app has to be 'paused' with the nvidia gpu. The ATI card can run folding@home and any game we own including Crysis wihtout the app causing gaming issues, lagging. The trade off is with an HD4850 I get approx 2500ppd and with the GTS250 I get 6200ppd.


p.s. I should get bonus points for mentioning folding@home so many times in 1 post.
!