Well, my 2cents:
Ati/OpenSource: Dual-Screen with xrandr works great on the open source ATI-drivers, I don't think TwinView could be much better. I also managed to play a mission in WoW (Icecrown) on my HD4870, but it still has glitches and crashes and you don't get eye-candy. So if you want to game seriously, the OpenSource driver is not there yet, especially if you go for Evergreen (no 3D yet, but work on that is visible).
Ati/fglrx: worked quite well for me, but on the other hand I didn't use it much. Biggest problem is the tremendously lagging support of new X servers, so if you want to live on the edge, fglrx doesn't work.
Nvidia/OpenSource: Compiz works, suspend works, gaming doesn't on NV50 (that should give support up to the GTX295 afaik). I regularily use nouveau on my laptop for quite a few months now and it is definitely usable and quite stable (well, the screensaver not so much ;-) ). GTX4xx support might take a while, as there is no support from Nvidia for this driver.
Nvidia/Proprietary: Worked great for me. If you don't care for OpenSource and want the most features and the best 3D acceleration, this is the way to go at the moment. Also has VDPAU. Actually I bought Nvidia cards for their linux support for years, until AMD started their OpenSource initiative.
Hm, a word on the GTX4xx: I wouldn't want one: All reports I read say they get really hot and they need a incredible amount of power. And I just think it's not worth that and the price premium for ~10% more performance. Additionally, with temperatures above 90°C, I could very well imagine that those cards don't live too long. But maybe I'm sort of biased, as I already had a Nvidia card (7800 I think) that blew up just after a few months - and the replacement 7900 had artifacts and had to be replaced again - with an rather unstable card during summer (at least I believe it was the graphics card). Also the GTX4xx might have very serious supply shortages, so you might have problems finding one in the near future.
So, it's really a bit of a dilemma. My personal stance is that I'd go with ATI for their support of OpenSource - but that means you have to wait at least some more months ... and maybe years. ATI has cheaper, cooler and more power-efficient cards, but it doesn't have video-acceleration, support for recent developments (in fglrx) or top performance.
If you don't care for power, temperature, noise, price and closed source but want top performance in 3D and want it now - go with Nvidia.
I see what you mean mate.
Originally Posted by Luzipher
Maybe I'll go for i7 + 12 GB Ram and a mid range nVidia. What would you recommend between the following:
Any more suggestions?
Uh, I don't really have experience with newer nVidia cards ... I'd say go cheaper if you plan to upgrade soon, go more expensive if you want to keep the card for a while.
Hm, I just checked prices, the cheapest 260 is about 150€, the cheapest 285 is about 260€. And it seems the 285 is about 20% faster (just checked very few benchmarks on Anandtech). That wouldn't really justify the price premium for the 285 for me.
By the way, the GTX470 seems to start at about 320€, that makes the 285 even more unattractive, I think.
Another point would be DX11 / OpenGL 4 compliance, you don't get that with nVidia below a GTX4xx, but if you plan to upgrade not too far in the future anyway, this doesn't really matter.
So basically or I get AMD now (58xx), but I have to wait at least 6 months to have it working, or I buy nVidia without OpenGL4 or nVidia with OpenGL4 but again a bad videocard?
Originally Posted by Luzipher
What would you recommend?
The successor of the GTX 260/275, the GTX 460 should follow the GTX 470/480 in june (in theory). GTX 470 is very expensive and needs much more power.
Well, it's difficult to narrow down a recommendation too much for somebody else :-) Therefore some more 'ifs':
If you have enough money to spend and gaming is important: GTX470 (just read that they're already available at a few retailers).
If you want to save money now and upgrade later and gaming is important: GTX260.
If gaming is not so important (or you'd be willing to game on windows): HD5850/HD5870.
One and a half year ago I decided to go with ATI and I still am happy about that decision even though development was somewhat slower than I anticipated. I had hoped that I could play not-so-demanding games like WoW (on low settings) by mid-2009, but that didn't come true. I do have a dual-boot environment and gaming is still not really possible with the open source drivers (except Quake Live).
Well, the r600g (Gallium3D, also should work on Evergreen/HD5xxx) driver is started now, so that should hopefully get us a working driver by the end of the year ... and hopefully Gallium3D also is capable of OpenGL 3 by then. But there are no guarantees ;-)
The GTX 260 is in most cases fully overpriced since the end of last year. Hard to recommand it...
Thanks, this was kinda insightful.
Originally Posted by Luzipher
I think that maybe I'll be doing some OpenCL as well, so I guess nVidia is a forced choice then... Still undecided if i7 or Phenom, but apparently I'll go for a gtx 260 or 285... anyway still 2~4 weeks to decide (yet) so I'm always keen to listen to other suggestions!
Just curious, why does your intention of doing some OpenCL work force you to NVidia ? The Catalyst drivers support OpenCL on Windows and Linux (see Stream SDK) today.
It's only OpenCL on the open source driver stack where you'll probably need to wait for a while...
Personally I would definitely go for a Phenom system, just because I like the company more. :-) OK and I think they are also doing a really good job concerning the power consumption, which leads to a quiet system!
At the graphics side I would also choose AMD/ATI. Again I still like the company :-) and they really put effort and money to the open source support.
Now to the driver support: I'm quite satisfied with the driver (fglrx) support. This driver used to be really bad (2006), but it is actually now in a good state and works fine and is damn fast for all the OpenGL stuff I use it (there is no drawback compared to the Nvidia Quadro in my working PC).
Concerning your GPGPU: CUDA is really nice but as bridgman already pointed out AMD/ATI also works fine with OpenCL. And seriously, I don't know if I would like to bind myself to CUDA ...
So left is the gaming/wine thing where I have no clue about, (last game I played was on my AMD K6 under Win95). :-)