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Thread: Radeon 4670 vs Nvidia GT 240

  1. #1
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    Talking Radeon 4670 vs Nvidia GT 240

    I'm upgrading my computer, with a new motherboard, graphics card, and cpu. I use 64-bit Archlinux.

    The big issue is the graphics card. Currently, in a price to performance standpoint, Nvidia looks bad, based on the benchmarks I've seen. The subject cards have similar performance, but the Nvidia card is at least $30 more.

    Years ago I went Nvidia because of the horrible, at the time, state of the proprietary ATI graphics driver. Having looked around, it seems there are still issues, in particular that I would have to downgrade Xorg for the drivers to work. I don't mind doing that, as long as I could have a warm fuzzy feeling that the driver will be stable and give good performance.

    I'd rather not spend the money on an ATI card with fantastic performance in reviews and then find that since I run linux I can expect half the performance.

    So, should I go for an ATI card, or should I stick with Nvidia, whose binary driver hasn't let me down yet?

  2. #2
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    ATI and Arch are not friends, to put it simple; nvidia would be the safe recommendation in this case, but since you don't mind going the extra mile to get things working it shouldn't be a big deal .
    As for performance, it depends on what you will be running. Raw 3D is about the same as in Windows; of course this means squat if you end up running things like WINE. Compiz and Kwin composition work "fine", though I do have problems running some effects with KDE4 (particularly exploding windows); biggest issue in this area is painfully slow window manipulation (resizing, maximizing, minimizing, etc.) which can be remedied with an xserver patch or tweaking some options in your composite manager . 2D wise the driver performs well and I really can't tell much of a difference between fglrx/XAA vs. radeon/EXA.
    One other major pitfall is tearing with movie playback. For some this is a big issue. I don't watch that many movies with my computer, and the few times I do it doesn't bother me. However, the tearing is there and it can be bothersome depending on what your computer habits are.

    On another point, you got to think on the open source drivers. They are shaping up rather well (particularly radeon) and I wouldn't be surprised to have a working (meaning usable 2D and 3D acceleration, paired with basic power management) driver by mid next year. This could mean a nice investment on your part if you get an ATI card. Of course, if you hate waiting this doesn't apply to you.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Melcar View Post
    I wouldn't be surprised to have a working (meaning usable 2D and 3D acceleration, paired with basic power management) driver by mid next year.
    heck, it's working now. PM is still very basic and there are a few glitches and performance hits that need to be ironed out, but it's usable. It will take a few months until it's readily available in mainstream distros, until then you'd need to manually install the drivers (or stick with fglrx).

    You could try Fedora 12 to see if the OS drivers work for you, it includes pretty recent versions of everything gfx-related.

    I'd save the 30 bucks and get a 4670.
    Last edited by rohcQaH; 11-24-2009 at 07:48 AM.

  4. #4
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    If you want a fast, dependable card, you'd have to go NVidia.

    The proprietary ATI driver is much the same as it always was, and while the open driver is coming along nicely, it's not exactly fast at the moment.
    So, if you are willing to endure a performance hit and want to go open source, ATI is your ticket, if not, go NVidia.

  5. #5
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    ATI and Arch are not friends, to put it simple; nvidia would be the safe recommendation in this case...
    I use the ATI Radeon HD 4650 graphic card with Arch Linux 64bit and its not complicated to get the Catalyst driver working. One has just to install the AUR packages catalyst and catalyst-utils and then it shoud work ussually pretty well. But its true that it is easier to install NVIDIA drivers on Arch Linux.

    Im not unhappy with the Catalyst driver and my ati card. The framerate in OpenGL Games is with newer ATI cards under Linux not worse than under Windows i think. I play Regnum Online and the frame rate is under both OS's (Linux and Windows) very similar.

    Sometimes I watch videos of DVDs too, the video quality is ok.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fenrin View Post
    Im not unhappy with the Catalyst driver and my ati card. The framerate in OpenGL Games is with newer ATI cards under Linux not worse than under Windows i think. I play Regnum Online and the frame rate is under both OS's (Linux and Windows) very similar.

    Sometimes I watch videos of DVDs too, the video quality is ok.
    Excellent, that's just what I needed to give me the warm fuzzy feeling.

    I've decided to go for an ATI card. Although now I'm considering the HD 4770 too, since it seems pretty fast for relatively cheap.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by theapodan View Post
    Excellent, that's just what I needed to give me the warm fuzzy feeling.

    I've decided to go for an ATI card. Although now I'm considering the HD 4770 too, since it seems pretty fast for relatively cheap.
    If you care about quiet computing, look at idle power consumption. 4670 is excellent, 4770 not so much. Now, 5750 or 5770, that would be pretty good. I found this chart recently:
    http://mark.zoomcities.com/images/gf...hartbyidle.png

    NVidia's GT220 and GT240 manage some acceptable idle-power numbers, so from a quiet/green standpoint, NVidia finally has something comparable to 4670. Not so much from a Free Software / open specifications standpoint, still, though.

    I have a PowerColor AX4670 1GBK3-PV2, and it's nice and quiet, with a "professional cooling system" fan that's probably a lot quieter than the reference cooler.

    Code:
    $ DISPLAY=:0 aticonfig  --odgc --odgt
    
    Default Adapter - ATI Radeon HD 4600 Series
                                Core (MHz)    Memory (MHz)
               Current Clocks :    550           873
                 Current Peak :    750           873
      Configurable Peak Range : [650-750]     [873-880]
                     GPU load :    0%
    
    Default Adapter - ATI Radeon HD 4600 Series
                      Sensor 0: Temperature - 41.50 C
    I went with 1GB of DDR3, even though it does clock a little slower than 1000MHz, because some open-source games aren't well optimized for texture size, or at least can be played with uncompressed textures. This is especially the case if I switch to open-source drivers, where texture compression doesn't always work well.

    Not sure if it was smart or not, or if I would be able to use more AA/AF with a 512MB card with faster memory. I don't game that much, and wanted to be future-proof.

    NVidia's driver is definitely better. I think my desktop was a little speedier with onboard g965 than it is with 4670. (I don't use 3D compositing). And ATI's driver just isn't as polished as NVidia's. For example, switching to another virtual desktop while a full-screen openGL program is running leaves the gl program hiding the other windows, even though they get the kbd and mouse focus. NVidia correctly iconifies 3D programs when you alt-tab or whatever away from them. (I have an AGP Athlon64 with a 7600GT that used to be my games machine.)

    Still, I'm not unhappy with my ATI card, I just wish it wasn't such a tradeoff of non-free driver quality. (And crappy support for new Linux and X.org versions)

  8. #8
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    Good points. The GPU is without a doubt the most complicated piece in the game and I think ATI merging with AMD gave it access to some really good driver programming experience. The way I see it ATI doing the necessary work to not only assist in linux but train and explain the hardware well enough to make really good open source teams has got to pan out sooner or later. Nvidia wants to be best at something and it will eventually focus off on one thing in order to achieve it's deep needs for pinacle state of the art leetness. My guess is that focus will be super computers used in nefarious tasks such as market manipulation etc. Because it matches both their technical savvy and moral ambiguity.

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