I have several questions to ask and i think the best way to do it is by also giving you all a general picture of my situation. Since this is probably going to be a long post, my apologies to anyone that might find it tedious...
Here goes then...
I have two systems that i'm working with:
One is a system i put together 2 years ago and set up specifically as part of a bigger sound editing/design rig. I went to great pains to set it up the best way i could. It runs perfectly, i have no complaints. The only other thing it occasionaly is used for is to run some game sometimes, when i need some kind of a break...
When i was puting the system together the graphics card that i used was a GF2 mx400, solely because i had no special demands from a graphics card, i just needed something that runs well, is stable and MOST importantly is silent. And i was and still am ok with it since it runs everything that i tried maxed out at 800x600. Of course, sometimes when i try higher resolutions frames drop but i'm perfectly ok with that. Most importantly there was no game that i couldn't run (except DX9 of course). Even many newer ones will run fine with it (it was so interesting seeing all those posts in various forums about how ppl with MUCH better cards than that had serious problems running specific games while i had absolutely none! Of course, most of them ended up blaming the game itself as being buggy and not their systems. Goes to show how little some know sometimes, but anyway...)
The other system is used mainly for image editing and more general use. Putting it together (more than a year ago) i again had no demands from a graphics card so i picked a GF4 mx440 since i was not going to use it to play games a lot. System works fine, the card works fine maxed out, sometimes with some games it won't run higher than 800x600 but like i said before it's ok with me, i don't have high demands.
Lately, 2 games that i really, REALLY waited for a long time came out but they both need a more powerful card to run at all. So, i started thinking about getting another card for my first system.
The way things are now with graphic cards i know that i am not exactly pleased with the way they perform. Sure, i could get a medium to high end card and get much better results compared to what i get now, BUT i have a problem with their noise levels plus i think it would be wiser to wait for the new ones in a few months since they should be better.
Thing is, i found a GF4 ti4200 64mb for $50 that seems like a good idea to get since afterwards i won't have to upgrade soon plus even if i do i would only have spend $50 for this... So here comes the first question:
1) How much more noisy is the GF4ti compared to the GF2mx??? What other equivalent card would be a better option compared to the GF4 TI based on NOISE levels????
2) I was not aware that nvidia's drivers are a bitch to remove. I also don't know if i will need to remove them (instead of just uninstalling them) when i replace the one i have with another of nvidia's cards. Do i need to? Is there problems when you replace with another nvidia or is it just with ATI?
A month ago i installed a recently released game on my second system. The drivers i was using were 41.09, i think.
I decided to upgrade the drivers, i thought that maybe it would be a sensible thing to do since the game was brand new so that the game would run as best as possible.
So i did it without uninstalling the game (something i would normally never do, but since it's a dual boot i can afford to experiment sometimes). I could d/load the newer ForceWare drivers but i thought that maybe those will better fit the FX series (is that true?)so i picked 45.43(or something)instead (because of it's nview3).
And THEN the game wouldn't work plus there were a lot of black-screens when opening the card's settings from the desktop. I uninstalled those drivers and got the 53.04. Everything worked fine ever since.
But the fact that the 45.xx driver did not work for my card made me think long and hard about drivers in general.
Then i started reading the threads here. I always thought that newer drivers are supposed to be better bug-wise and performance-wise especially since nvidia's share the same architecture and work for all their series.
But from what i've read there are people that think that certain drivers are better for certain cards. That older cards are better with older drivers. I can understand that it might stand true in terms of speed but does it also stand true in terms of stability?
Am i wrong to assume that the newest the driver (with some possible exception) the more stable it is? If i am wrong then:
3) Which ones would be considered as the best drivers for GF2 mx400, GF4 mx440 and GF4 Ti 4200 in terms of stability and which in terms of speed???? Do those drivers work better with a specific version of DX??
4) What happens if some older driver is faster (as some people say 44.03) but you want to use a newer DX version that the driver does not support? Won't you have to upgrade?
I know that there are plenty of ppl here that have the technical know-how to answer my questions. Thank you so much for any help you can give me and once again i'm sorry for the length of this post.
I think I can shed some light on your situation, since I own both the GF4 MX440 and the Ti4200.
First off, none of these cards should present a noise problem, unless your hearing is hypersensitive and you have other hearing-related problems, like trouble sleeping because of the noise of the house furnace. If I stop all other noise makers, I can just barely hear any fan noise and most of that comes from the power supply/case fans. Anything caused by the video card is lost, because it's quieter than the others.
Second, I wasn't aware that the drivers were a problem to remove. When I've had to remove them, I just go to 'Add/Remove Programs' and remove them.
Next off, I must caution you that the Ti4200 you are planning on is not much speedier than the GF4 MX440. I would recommend that you get an FX5200 128 meg for about $100 or less. Then, when Longhorn comes along, you won't need to upgrade that card. At that point, you can take the new card you get now and shift that to your audio editing rig and upgrade the newer, general use system to a more modern card. I know that Longhorn seems a long way off, but the two years until it shows up will go faster than you think,
I am a fan of getting the newest drivers available, since they often include bug fixes for older versions. And please don't go to an ATI card thinking that things will be better. Quite often, they're sorse. I've owned their cards in the past and still have a few laying around. ATI drivers are usually buggy when released and they don't update them often. In fact, they seem to abandon their 'older' cards and stop writing new drivers. That's something I haven't found with nVidia-based cards.
I say "nVidia-BASED", because unlike ATI, nVidia makes chipsets, not actual cards. So, when you go to get new drivers, go to the actual card manufacturer's site FIRST for new drivers. Don't grab the generic nVidia drivers from the nVidia site unless your card manufacturer has stopped supporting your card.
Now, your last question. If your current drivers support everything you want to do, then I see no real need to update them. As for the Microsoft end of things, I run DX9.0b with my MX440 card, so you should have no problems. There are some minor differences between actual card manufacturers, so I can't guarantee it, seeing that you didn't post that info. But you shouldn't have any of the problems you're anticipating.
Thank you for your input, i appreciate it.
Actually, it's the sound-rig's graphics card that i'm thinking of replacing. That's why noise levels are of such importance to me.
I'm glad that replacing the card was smooth for you. I don't want to switch from Nvidia, not because they are the best (actually ATI probably are, right now) but because i never had any problems with nvidia, it's stable and good. I am aware that there can be potential issues when swapping from nvidia to ati or vice versa and THAT is what i DO NOT want. I don't want to have to clean install everything from scratch. That alone is what turns me towards nvidia (if indeed there is no problem when replacing one card with another). I hope there are really no problems like you said.
(Anyone else that has input on that?)
Like i mentioned in my post, from what i see around me nowdays, there is no card that is worth it's money unless it's a top one. Which means it will probably be noisy. And anyway there are new cards coming out in a couple of months. So, i'm thinking i could get the GF4 TI for now since it's cheap and if something really good comes out later it will be easier to buy.
About the drivers, i always got then from nvidia and not the card's manufacturer. I think the only thing the card's original drivers where giving me was overclocking capabilities. I don't need that, anyway. Is that why you are saying that? So to be able to use the whatever extra stuff the mfg added to the card? But even if you only get nvidia's there isn't any problem is there? (not to mention that they are more constant and newer.)
By the way, i wouldn't say the FX5200 is better than the GF4 TI. I'm not just basing this on reviews but also on friends. I don't know if new (dx9) games will run better on the FX but older games (which happens to be most of the games i'd be interested in - with the exception of those 2 new games that started me searching for a solution) run much better on the GF4 ti.
Anyway, thank you once more for your input. I really appreciate that!
No, I'm saying 'use the manufacturer's drivers, not nVidia's' because the card manufacturer has the ability to add, subtract, or change features of the nVidia chips in use. Therefore, the drivers from nVidia are only the most generic available. If you want the card to work right, you have to go to the people who designed and made it.
You're welcome to use any drivers you can find, but don't come on here complaining if these generic drivers cause errors.