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2D Graphics Card Performance - Photoshop

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February 14, 2003 7:14:55 PM

A friend of mine is asking me what components to use for his computer. He is going to be using it as a graphics computer, meaning Photoshop, Paint Shop Pro, and photo retouchers. He will also be using Painter (which is a natural media painting program). As you can see, this computer will be all about graphics, but not games. He won't be installing a single 3D game.

I'm trying to figure out the best graphics card to recommend for him. I realize that all these new expensive graphics cards are great for 3D games, but do they make any difference for programs like Photoshop and Painter?

In other words, will there be any noticeable difference ***for these sorts of applications*** between say a $250 GeForce 4 Ti and a $300 ATI Radeon 9700 and a $60 GeForce 4 MX440? Or even a $50 GeForce 4 MX 420?

Also, does anyone have any feedback between AMD or Intel processors for these sorts of applications? Generally, I would recommend the AMD processors (much better price/performance), but I've seen a lot of photoshop tests that seem to favor the Intel chips for that particular application.

Thanks in advance!
February 14, 2003 9:22:43 PM

Woot! Goatcheese rocks! hehe.
For a video card, imo, get a matrox G series. For proc, amd prices have been pretty ridiculous lately- a 3.06Ghz P4 w/ ht would do quite nicely, else something like an xp2400 would be nice.

"If everything seems under control, you're just not going fast enough."
- Mario Andretti
February 14, 2003 11:36:06 PM

ati has been the 2d leader for as long as i can remember. get a low end radeon or somthing.

my computer is so fast, it completes an endless loop in less than 4 seconds!
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February 15, 2003 12:32:31 AM

matrox gives even better quality.

"If everything seems under control, you're just not going fast enough."
- Mario Andretti
February 17, 2003 7:18:16 AM

So are you guys saying that basically on the right track (not worrying about 3d specs), but need to look at a different assortment of cards?

Do 3d specs correllate at all with 2d specs, or are they really not related?

I was looking at the GeForce4 MX 440 because of the price (about $60), and because (from what I can tell), its equivalent can be found in an NForce2 motherboard (which makes it practically free). Is there anything wrong with the GeForce4 MX 440 for 2d work?

But maybe I need to look at other cards. I'm a little hesitant to buy a lower end ATI card because ATI tends to discontinue driver support so early in their products' life cycle. Matrox would be a good possibility, but they are so far behind Nvidia and ATI in the high-end that I wonder how long they will be around.

For something like Photoshop, is the speed of the graphics card really even important? I would think so, but even a TNT32 is a relatively fast card. For 2d work, is there even a noticeable difference between a real low end beast like a TNT32 and an ATI Radeon 9700 Pro?

That's a lot of questions... so I'll end it here... TIA!
February 17, 2003 3:14:42 PM

What you ought to be more concerned with is image quality- vid cards now are fast enough for those purposes. This is why I reccomend a matrox, and they're not necessarily behind- yes 3D they're not as fast but they're perfect workstation cards where many displays r required (take my dad's 10 20" LCD setup now). Get a Parhelia, G550, or G450.

"If everything seems under control, you're just not going fast enough."
- Mario Andretti
February 18, 2003 7:51:34 AM

You mean there is noticeable differences of 2d image quality between recent video cards?

I don't see how that is possible. The signal strength would seem to be about it. And I would imagine all recent cards have identical signal strength.
February 18, 2003 3:52:37 PM

RF filters are still the big issue with video cards. Bad filters mean bad video and it's not just in 2D. 3D is affected as well (but in games who has time to notice?)

ATI and Matrox have had consistant high quality video. NVidia cards are made by many more manufacturers so quality varies. I suppose this is possible with the "powered by ATI" cards but I have not heard this is the case.

The situation has gotten much better since the arrival of the Geforce4 family but you should ask users of any specific models you are considering what they think. You can't go by just brand. Have to go model by model. For example, I have two old Visiontek cards. The Geforce256 was pretty good but the Geforce 2 GTS-V was horrible producing fuzzy video at as low as 800x600 and unusable at 1024x768.

I mod'd both cards and essentially removed the RF filters. The Geforce256 is still a little better than the Geforce2 but both are now usuable at 1600x1200 (highest res of my monitor best monitor.

<b>99% is great, unless you are talking about system stability</b><P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by phsstpok on 02/18/03 01:06 PM.</EM></FONT></P>
February 20, 2003 7:12:00 AM

Interesting info on the RF filters - thanks. Any idea of the quality of the RF filters on the GeForce 4 MX-440? What about the video built into the NForce2 IGP? How about the ATI Radeon 9000?

I just want high quality fast 2D graphics for the lowest cost. I'm willing to spend more if needed, but see no reason to throw money into a fancy 3D card that will be underutilized.
a b U Graphics card
February 20, 2003 8:07:22 AM

I have to agree with Flamethrower that probably your best bet is with Matrox, they really are the 2d kings for most. Depending on your price diffs and the availibility of Matrox gear in your area, if your choice is between an MX and a 9000, I would go with the 9000, escpecially for things like video. There is also slightly more colour precision on a 9000, 10 bit per element (40bit) which gives you a slight advantage over the typical 32bit, not that your eyes would necessarily notice, but it will give you a truer representation of what you are supposed to see. Also you might want to consider a 9100, I beleive they are usually cheaper than a 9000, have all the colour features etc (although I have sen no great details of the 9100, just prices and the fact that they are based on the 8500LE).
Anywhoo, that's my take, looks like you got some good advice so far, and i agree I see no need for a 9700, FX, or even a Parahellia especially if you're asking us (not a slight). If you want to shell out for those, test the cheaper models first, then upgrade in 9-12 months if you feel the need, by which time those cards will be lower in price by pobably the amount of a 9100.

- You need a licence to buy a gun, but they'll sell anyone a stamp <i>(or internet account)</i> ! <font color=red>RED</font color=red> <font color=green>GREEN</font color=green> :tongue: GA to SK
February 20, 2003 5:02:09 PM

Quote:
Any idea of the quality of the RF filters on the GeForce 4 MX-440? What about the video built into the NForce2 IGP? How about the ATI Radeon 9000?

I can't really help you there. It's model by model and brand by brand, meaning one manufacturer's MX440 might look better than another manufacturer's MX440.

If you are sure the person isn't interested in any 3D games at all then you don't even need current stuff. You could look for older video cards. Matrox G400, ATI (BBA) Radeon DDR, ATI Radeon LE (original not 8500).

If you don't want to go to the trouble of tracking down a specific video card just go with a genuine ATI card or a Matrox card. Guaranteed good video quality.

If you insist on nVidia cards then I recommend you ask the question in this form, "I'm thinking about AAA brand, model YYY. Does anyone know if it has good or bad visual quality at high resolution (1600x1200 or higher)?" Don't ask about just the type ask about the specific model. If someone says it's blurry then stay away from that card and ask about different one.

I haven't heard anything, good or bad, about nForce or nForce2 mobos, at least not about visual quality.

Personally, if you are not sure of what to get I think the Radeon 8500 All-in-Wonder DV is a good choice. Good visual quality, some 3D capability (good enough for casual gaming), PVR capabilities, analog video capture, IEEE-1394 interface (good for digital video input), TV viewing, remote control, AC-3 digital audio output for DVDs (I just noticed this myself) and a lot of other stuff. Adds plenty of flexibility to any system. Not cheap but it doesn't limit the system either (except in ultimate 3D gaming).

<b>99% is great, unless you are talking about system stability</b>
February 20, 2003 5:40:03 PM

err, gf2 mx not very good. Don't go there.

"If everything seems under control, you're just not going fast enough."
- Mario Andretti
a b U Graphics card
February 21, 2003 4:20:55 AM

If he's not going to be gaming, then an AIW 7500 should do for a basic (read inexpensive) solution in the AIW line. I still think a Matrox or R9000 with a separate caputre card would do better for 2D at this level for probably less than an AIW 8500.
Just from what I've seen. Your mileage may vary.
And just like Mutual funds 'Past performance is no guarantee of future results'. ;~)

- You need a licence to buy a gun, but they'll sell anyone a stamp <i>(or internet account)</i> ! <font color=red>RED</font color=red> <font color=green>GREEN</font color=green> :tongue: GA to SK
February 21, 2003 4:45:44 AM

I thought about the 7500 AIW after I posted but I like the additions of firewire and better 3D gaming of the 8500 (I know it's not required here). I just think the 8500 DV is good all-rounder. It's a good choice when you're not sure what someone is going to need/want.

<b>99% is great, unless you are talking about system stability</b>
February 21, 2003 8:33:28 AM

Thank you to all the posters so far. I'll reply to everyone here, so I don't need to make 5 posts! :-)

I'm starting to see a trend that people are not as strong of believers in nVidia as I thought. I thought they were really the top until the Radeon 9700 Pro came out, and that everyone was really happy with them. Maybe I was just envious because I've been running on really old ATI boards that I don't really like (poor drivers).

I'm not sure where all the video stuff (all in wonder, etc) came from. This machine will be a photoshop machine, so video is not important. It needs to have exceptionally strong graphics, but only 2D graphics. 3D games will never be installed on this machine.

So it needs a very good card, and one that is well supported. And since it won't be running 3D games, I don't want to waste money on features that will never be used.

From what you all have posted, the Matrox G450 or G550 cards, the ATI Radeon 9000 or 9100 cards (I didn't understand that part of the 9100 being less expensive... is it worse than the 9000?), or maybe a good brand (Asus?) GeForce 4 MX-440 (or MX-460?... don't see that one too often) card.

I'm a little hesistant about Matrox only because I'm not sure of their future... they seem to have fallen way behind the others.

It would be great if anyone has any 2D comparisons for these cards. The computer will have a fast processor, fast RAM, and a fast hard drive (tempted to go to a 10,000 RPM, but that gets real pricey)... so I want to match it with an excellent and super-fast 2D graphics card. But I don't want to waste money getting all sorts of 3D features that will never be used.

BTW, this whole discussion is very interesting, and thank to everyone. I also wonder how much difference a graphics card makes for photoshop. Is there even any noticeable difference between an old Graphics Xpression and a Radeon 9700 Pro when using photoshop (just as an example of two graphics card extremes currently available... not that I am considering either card).
February 21, 2003 3:09:11 PM

Matrox will be there- a lot of companies buy their cards. They are very good company, just not neessarily catering to the l337 3d gamer as much. And please, don't get an r8500 or r7500- I've had the worst of experiences with them. If you choose Ati, go with an R9000.

"If everything seems under control, you're just not going fast enough."
- Mario Andretti
February 21, 2003 3:59:01 PM

Sorry, I got sidetracked from core emphasis of this thread.

I haven't seen 2D benchmarks done in years and only in passing do reviewers usually mention 2D visual quality. I'll bet most people don't know that video cards had 2D acceleration. Extremely fast memory has made this a non-issue.

As for Matrox going out of business, who knows but the 2D component of their drivers won't suddenly stop working if that's what you are worried about. Microsoft has been pretty good about keeping legacy drivers in their core Windows installation.

10K drives? I just read about someone producing 10K SATA drives. Where was that...

Old cards vs new. You might be right. Photo editing can be done with even a 4 or 8 MB video card since the editing is done in the computer's main memory. However, I wouldn't recommend something as old as Graphics Xpression. (Plus, I never did like the Mach 64 drivers but I can't remember why).

We've touched on performance and visual quality. As I mentioned 2D performance is not a huge issue today. As for visual quality there is one simple fact. You can't do good photo editing if the image is out of focus. I don't care if the drivers are the best in the world. If the image stinks so will your photo editing.

Now you can buy a card where most of it's emphasis has been placed on 3D like those nVidia partners (I love nVidia drivers, by the way), one where it's emphasis is a little more balanced like ATI (although the emphasis has switched more toward 3D recently), or one where most of the emphasis has always been placed on 2D like Matrox. 2D has been Matrox's bread and butter. OK, 2D AND dual-head display.

There are probably Pro cards that are as good or better than these consumer cards for photo editing. They would tend to be geared toward OpenGL or video though, but good 2D quality would be a must as well. They would be expensive.

<b>99% is great, unless you are talking about system stability</b>
February 21, 2003 4:19:29 PM

What problems have you had with Radeon 8500? I love mine though I wish I could afford 9700.

<b>99% is great, unless you are talking about system stability</b><P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by phsstpok on 02/21/03 01:20 PM.</EM></FONT></P>
February 21, 2003 5:51:50 PM

Matrox has had the best 2D image quality of the different cards I have used. Even the G200 had a great picture. Matrox is not disappearing anytime soon. I was using a G400 with InDesign, Photoshop, and Illustrator. I did the same at home on my GeForce2GTS and the picture quality just wasnt the same. I cannot speak for ATI cards. I havent owned one.

---------------

Ray Charles is my co-pilot
February 21, 2003 8:52:41 PM

I have to agree. I've got a G550 in my audio workstation, which at the moment is doubling for graphics and web creation. The G550 will be perfect for that type of 2D performance. Plus, it's got the best dual-head support around, which your friend will really appreciate when he can work on a picture on one screen and have all his toolbars on the other screen, instead of having the tools on top of the pic he's working on.

Jarrett

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February 21, 2003 9:29:15 PM

Agreed, I've yet to experience a single problem with my R8500 after purchasing it in Nov. 2001.

Intelligence is not merely the wealth of knowledge but the sum of perception, wisdom, and knowledge.
February 21, 2003 10:20:38 PM

AMD_Man where have you been? My ATI drivers got corrupted (my own fault) and I couldn't uninstall them or install new ones. I tried one of your links to find your uninstall utility but it was dead. I ended up deleting driver files manually but my system is still whacked.

On fresh boot I can't run any DirectX 8 stuff.

3DMark2001 reports, "3DMark2001 SE needs DirectX 8.1 and proper drivers installed in order to run"

BF1942 says, "BF1942.EXE file is linked to missing export DSOUND.DLL:11."

UT2003 Demo - BSOD.

The strange thing is I can play a DirectX 7 game fine and after I do so I can also play the DirectX 8 games, no errors!

Whacked!!!

I've tried a clean install of 4-in-1 drivers, Catalyst 3.1 drivers, and DirectX 8.1b but same issue remains. DirectX 8 won't work unless I use DirectX 7 software first.

I'm considering trying Omega drivers except I don't even know what they are for other than being Catalyst replacements.

<b>99% is great, unless you are talking about system stability</b>
February 21, 2003 10:54:56 PM

Strange, I'm not sure what you're experiencing. I haven't had much time to do any app programming in the last 6 months. In comp sci class, we're doing a web design unit, so most of my efforts have been in learning to make interactive pages in Flash.

Intelligence is not merely the wealth of knowledge but the sum of perception, wisdom, and knowledge.
February 21, 2003 11:36:55 PM

Yup, really strange. Windows acts like the DirectX files are totally missing even thought they are not. Run a DX7 game and suddenly Windows can "see" the files again.

<b>99% is great, unless you are talking about system stability</b>
February 21, 2003 11:55:09 PM

Lol, u seem to be having probs w/ it now. Let's not even go there asking about what happened w/ the multiple ati cards here.....let's just say some of em ended up either meeting fate with a hammer or in a rocket with ample gunpowder to destroy it.

"If everything seems under control, you're just not going fast enough."
- Mario Andretti
February 22, 2003 12:18:13 AM

What can I say. ATI the card I love to hate and hate to love. Loved my old AIW. Hated the Mach 64 cards before it. At this moment I love the 8500...I'm just having an argument with it.

It was working perfectly until I did something stupid. For some reason I decided update the drivers while I was still trying for maximum overclock. I simply had forgotten I was doing this. In the middle of the install the hard drive decided to stop working, PCI bus corruption or something like that. Typical stuff during extreme overclocking. Except instead of running unimportant benchmarks and test software I was doing a driver installation. Not the thing to be doing.

<b>99% is great, unless you are talking about system stability</b>
February 22, 2003 12:21:03 AM

Well my spose errr... vid card (Quadro DCC) doesn't have arguments with me. We don't cheat on each other either








Though right now I'm using a Quadro 980XGL!

"If everything seems under control, you're just not going fast enough."
- Mario Andretti
!