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Thread: Nvidia/AMD/SLI, seeking advice on upgrade

  1. #1
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    Question Nvidia/AMD/SLI, seeking advice on upgrade

    Hello dear Linux Friends.

    I realize that description is long, major points: Source games on Linux only, ability to over clock, SLI, price 200-325$, power consumption.

    MICHAEL I CAN'T WAIT FOR ARTICLES WITH SOURCE GAMES BENCHMARKS!!!!

    I am Linux enthusiast and gamer. I need advice upgrading my GPU.(I guess its my biggest bottleneck)
    I am specifically interested in getting higher FPS from Valve Source Engine games(yep, i already play Team fortress 2 and SS 3 BFE, wich s no source, but none the less, a good graphics game, and very fun one at that). First hand experience with those is highly appreciated. I don't care much about open source games based on Quake 1/2/3 engine I play them seldom and if it's above my screen FPS - I am already happy.

    Right now I have 8 gigs of ram(1600), 3.2 GHZ quad core from AMD and gtx470. I got powerful Power Supply, I am not concerned about technical issues.


    While Team Fortress 2 seem to work all right(it doesn't go below 40 FPS there, hard to say its real value, but seems to be generally above my screen FPS, which is 60/1920 on 1080) - I have rather low FPS in Serious Sam3 BFE(below 30), and i don't feel to comfortable with Heroes of Newerth(doesn't go above 40-50 FPS) and Unigine tests and Oil Rush. And I am not maxing anything out like AF or AA or Multi Sampling in any of those games, mostly i don't even enable any of those.

    I am looking right now to buy either Nvidia or ATI(not interested in Intel). I am not overzealous, but i tend to look after AMD, I had a lot of good exp with their CPU's over course of many years and heard many positive things from Windows/Linux dual booters(AKA IRL friends), also i like idea, that they opensource their driver, but one big BUT... Drivers suck, and they will suck performance wise. AMD wont do nothing about low performance of OSS driver compared to binary one, and they openly admitted it. So, no, I am not blind to that. So frankly, I don't care whose binary blobs to use. Nvidia seems to be better choice on that.

    I don't mind buying Nvidia, due to my legacy experience. I bought their cards for many ears in a row(due to good binary driver) and I am generally very happy with their driver, but recently they killed idea of over-clocking in Linux. I am not one bit happy about it. I actually bought very overclockable (and rather expensive version of)470 GTX specifically to make it's life a bit longer. I feel screwed. I'd love to over-clock it, but I can't. If you know how - let me know and I may decide not to make upgrade right now.


    Money I am ready to pay: 250 Euro or about 325$ I may blow my budget a bit. I am looking at GTX660/GTX660TI/Radeon hd 7950. I can perhaps blow my budget, but probably not.


    Does anyone actually have any experience with over clocking Radeons on Linux? Can you say it's an advantage?(is it difficult? does it require fiddling with Xorg? With Xorg down? I am not afraid of console, but I prefer Xterm on my rather large screen)

    Also, does it make sense to simply get myself for roughly 80 euro or so another one of those 470 gtx cards and make them SLI?(that will involve Mobo upgrade, which is not a big deal to me, but i am seeing to save money here, since i dont have SLI capability on current mobo)

    From 3 years or so ago - I had REALLY sad experience with SLI. When best thing that happened with SLI - no performance drop.(most of time, but in some cases there was actually FPS drop, so other card I had - was really BAD investment). I am not too keen on that idea, since I shall end up with two old cards down the road, I can already sell mine for 40 euros to my friend and as well, as dual power consumption with no chance to overclock it down the road -doesn't make me very happy.

    Also, power performance also means something. No point of buying 100$ card and pay twice it's price down the road in a year.

    Please feel free to share your thoughts! I am very interested in your opinion, especially if you have experience with Unigine engine and Source, Unity based games.

    See quickanddirty.org for a few tips how you can perhaps make Valve games run on your Ubuntu without beta tester account and join me in game of TF2!!! There are tips to do that.

  2. #2
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    I think the SLI/CF situation has not improved. Expect no improvement from another card.

  3. #3
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    'Best to ask Kano, who's an expert and up-to-date on how the newer Nvidia and AMD cards run in Linux including games.

    If you run Windows games in Linux (WINE), I think Nvidia is still the path to go. I'd suggest GTX 660 Ti depending on prices in your country. There's even a recent thread in which a new Nvidia card owner is quite satisfied with his purchase.

    Not sure why anyone would even think of using dual cards in Linux (SLI/CF). These are 'Windows' companies after all. I would predict it would be a major PITA trying to get them to work properly. Not to mention, there are probably issues when trying to game with just one card. Open source games may be a different story so I'm just talking about WINE.

    As for Source games, I bet Nvidia is a better chance for a decent experience, too.

    http://www.escapistmagazine.com/foru...x-Than-Windows

  4. #4
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    Default no, native client

    Quote Originally Posted by Panix View Post
    'Best to ask Kano, who's an expert and up-to-date on how the newer Nvidia and AMD cards run in Linux including games.

    If you run Windows games in Linux (WINE), I think Nvidia is still the path to go. I'd suggest GTX 660 Ti depending on prices in your country. There's even a recent thread in which a new Nvidia card owner is quite satisfied with his purchase.

    Not sure why anyone would even think of using dual cards in Linux (SLI/CF). These are 'Windows' companies after all. I would predict it would be a major PITA trying to get them to work properly. Not to mention, there are probably issues when trying to game with just one card. Open source games may be a different story so I'm just talking about WINE.

    As for Source games, I bet Nvidia is a better chance for a decent experience, too.

    http://www.escapistmagazine.com/foru...x-Than-Windows
    No mate. I was talking about native client. You can run TF2 without beta invite. A few other games too. But for now it seems i will stick with my Nvidia. I have the money but i want to wait and see, what will be better.

  5. #5
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    Forget about SLi/Crossfire setups in linux. They are pretty much useless without driver optimizations for the application and both Nvida and AMD don't do any of that in linux as of yet. You are better off with a beefer single GPU setup in linux for the time being (that may change if Steam for Ubuntu takes off and games start native games start taxing modernish hardware).

  6. #6
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    Amd has sometimes profiles which do something But the result can be funny:

    CF setup:



    Heaven (tested in April 2012):




    There might be working profiles for Doom 3 / Quake 4 but did not try.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kano View Post
    Amd has sometimes profiles which do something But the result can be funny:
    Bumptextures and geometry present, but textures themself are absent. Driver problem.

  8. #8
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    Certainly thats a driver problem, but on win there is no OpenGL heaven profile for CF only for DX11. So don't think 2 cards would improve anything. What is interesting however that Rage has got no SLI profile (it works best with 1 nv card) but there is a CF profile (on win). Basically i would not spend money on 2 cards, i got 2 amd cards and tested it but nothing to recommend. 1 fast cards is what you want. Nvidia has usually the better Linux drivers, however they faked the DX 11.1 hardware specs with Kepler, something that i dislike a bit. I don't think that you lose much but still a bit disappointing. I hope that more games, especially valve games will force Amd to optimize their OpenGL drivers, not only for the joy of it but for a possible hardware deal... And when you combine APU with dedicated chip then CF is important again...
    Last edited by Kano; 12-07-2012 at 08:58 AM.

  9. #9
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    Thanks for insights guys, I appreciate them.

    Also, FYI, in steam forums other Linux users told pretty much same things. Nvidia drivers are better, buy one strong card and not SLI/Crossfire. Many advice to wait and see a bit. I will follow advise however. GTX 470 is not the worst card atm.

    But frankly i don't think there will be much change in driver quality from AMD. I mean, there will be some, but nothing highly dramatic. Knowing their financial situation. Most gamers are pragmatic about AMD and wont run to buy them just cause they open source drivers.(and leaving them in less than desired state, since no one in their mind will advise OSS driver from AMD for GPU intensive games or openCL calculations)

    Also folks advised, that I may have bad CPU.
    AMD 64bit 4 cores, 3.2 GHZ. Some raised opinion it was my botle neck. I have my doubts about it. I have 1600 8 gig RAM. I did notice much difference in a few games since i upgraded CPU. Can someone confirm? Does AMD really suck when it comes to games? Please no fan boy ism here. I personalyl support AMD for 1) they are open source somewhat friendly wen it coems to GPU, 2) If they go down the drain - we will stuck with Intel, and we have been there before. Pentium 2 for another 20 years, anybody?(and don't even start about ARM, RISC, etc, they are not i386 compatible, so will never probably be efficient with emulators and such)

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by dimko View Post
    AMD 64bit 4 cores, 3.2 GHZ. Some raised opinion it was my botle neck. I have my doubts about it. I have 1600 8 gig RAM. I did notice much difference in a few games since i upgraded CPU. Can someone confirm?
    For the games that are being ported linux your CPU will not be a bottleneck at all on the system and certianly nowhere close to being slow enough to see any appreciable difference in game play. Games like Left for Dead 2 have a pretty low system requirement.

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