If you are buying now 4th january 2008 I'd say go with nvidia. Theyre putting out some really great cards at good prices, atm Ati isnt. If you can spend the $250-300 then get a 8800GT 512MB which is the fastest thing in its price range and almost as fast as more expensive gpus.
I will be building a new system in February and am leaning towards Nvidia still. Years ago I bought a Radeon 8500 and fought and struggled with the drivers to get 3D working for months - this was on SuSE 8.x, I believe. My enjoyment of 3D in Linux did not really start until I switched to GeForce cards. I would like to support ATI's efforts but not until I can be certain that I will be able to install and hop into Quake 4 like I know I will be able to with Nvidia.
On my personal computer I have been booting Linux exclusively since 2004 (Ubuntu since 5.10 after bailing on the SuSE/Novell debacle) and did it knowing I would be giving up most games. But, it was also for the best to allow me to spend more time on other things. At work I spend most of my day bouncing between Windows XP and 2003 and Solaris 10 and futilely trying to justify introducing some Redhat servers to the mix.
In february there should be already 9xxx series out from nvidia.
I opted for ati, as they seem committed to opensource and lowering prices. Nvidia have always forced high prices. Just look at the 8800gt supposedly a shortage, I really don't believe this rubbish it's just an excuse to raise problems.
Image quality is better with ati!
Image quality today has more to do with your monitor than the brand of GPU. Ati used to be the better of two but that isnt true anymore..
As soon as you use dvi the vga signal quality is not important anymore.
I'll be building a couple of new systems in the next month or so.
At the moment I'm planning on going for a Radeon x1050, it's an R300 chip so it has good open source 3D and 2D support already, and it's inexpensive, also I'll have a clear upgrade path in a years time when the newer GPUs are better supported.
The R400 GPUs work well also.
The down side of the subR500 generation GPUs is the largest texture is 2048x2048 which means if the total size of you desktop in any dimension exceeds that you can't use 3D desktops.
If your interested I was going to pair it with an
MSI K9A2 Platinum
and a Energy Efficient Athlon64 x2 (Windsor core with 2x 1MB cache) 4000+, 4400+, 4800+ or 5200+
and a couple of GBs of ECC RAM.
The X1050 GPU is a real joke it is slower than everything you might know. Maybe 50% of a 9700 in best case. It is a renamed X550 which was only a slight mod from X300. The upgrade path would be: replace it at once you need 3d.
Mmm, I knew it wasn't great but didn't realize it was that bad, maybe I'll see if I can find an x800 instead.
Originally Posted by Kano
Btw. why don't you get Intel? Even the cheapest Pentium DualCore (stay away from Pentium D) will OC nicely and will be faster than any cheap AMD CPU. Also ECC RAMs is only for servers not for desktop system.