I planned on replacing my 8800GTS (G92) with a 4870, cause phoronix keeps saying how great the 4800 series is. (i wanted the 4870 cause they claim 2d performance is better, and potentially h264 hardware decoding)
problem is, phoronix posts benchmarks to games no one plays, and fails to point out is that ATI's drivers are MUCH worse than nvidia's.
I can't properly get compiz to work with either driver, and I get major video tearing still.
How many chances does ATI need. they KEEP screwing up. always promising to be better later. We all care about NOW.
I'm thinking of just selling the 4870 and sticking with my older 8800GTS.
would you all agree ?
or should I just deal with no compiz (hoping that down the road ATI will fix it..... ya right)
Everything depends upon what you want to use your computer for. If you want to only run Linux and have lots of "bling", then yes, go with nvidia for now.
I've got a 4870X2 and I'm more than happy with it. I moved from an 8800GTX. Strictly speaking I moved from an 8800GTX SLI - I had an nForce motherboard which eventually proved unreliable, So I replaced it with an Intel motherboard and sacrificed SLI.
I dual boot with Windows - so I like the 4870 performance in games, and when I'm in Linux I don't use Compiz and the only thing I need the driver to do is a) not crash and b) play video's half decently. I don't mind losing the bling because I'm supposed to be coding, not messing around.
I'm quite willing to wait for the ATI drivers to get better. As long as 2D isn't screwed up and videos play I'm happy. But that's just my view, and others will be different.
The nVidia cards are not documented. This means that you MUST use an OS specified by nVidia and you MUST use the drivers made by nVidia. Nobody else can write drivers for nVidia cards (without, of course, reverse-engineering) and consequently no OS can support nVidia cards unless nVidia consents.
OTOH, the AMD cards are (atleast partially) documented, which means that you have lesser lock-in.
Simple, if you use Linux exclusively, I hate to say this (and is actually a dichotomy), use nVidia. If you dual-boot with Windows, keep your ATi.
Sure ATi has open drivers, and I'm on the first raw every time a new driver is released, just to take notes of what is going on and when will I be able to jump boats (I'd rather run a card which offers good performance with open drivers than one that flies with closed), however ATi has been painfully slow to release driver updated features and specs for the open drivers. I applaud them for opening up and be brave in the face of fierce competition and do The Right Thing™, problem is that their products are supposed to be built for 3D acceleration, especially the top of the line products, and cost quite a bit (accordingly) but they don't deliver in Linux, so you have only three options if you are "stuck" with ATi: Use a cheaper card so you don't hurt as much (your wallet and expectations, that is), dual-boot or drop Linux. That is about all you can do if you're stuck. If you're not... By all means, buy/keep an nVidia card. They don't have open source 3D drivers, but they DO have 2D-only open drivers, and the best thing is that they do have the best proprietary 3D driver.
However, nvidia's superiority isn't as clean as many think. Their drivers do have bugs (some more serious than others, and still more bugs than you usually find in Open Drivers), some of them have lingered for the longest time and they will not work with the latest technologies regarding Linux display technologies (KMS, GEM, etc)... It'd be wonderful if nvidia figured a way to use these features, and better still if they'd stepped up to the plate and released actual specs for their products... Not likely, not in the near future, anyway.
So, as much as I love Linux and Open Source, I also run Linux exclusively, and like gaming on Linux, but also do a LOT of 2D work on it and IM[V]HO is the best media OS currently available. The only way to exploit all this at the fullest (currently)is with an nVidia card. As a matter of fact I was debating between a 4850 and a 9800GT, guess which I got...
I'm currently running a 3870 just fine in Linux, but there are some bugs having to do with the reported glx version, and the actual version it is running. The client side reports 1.2 but in fact the server is running 1.4 and because of that pbuffers will not work with wine (as it uses the same information in glxinfo to determine capabilities).
Besides this problem which should hopefully be solved some time in the future, I run anything opengl related fine. Compiz in Ubuntu 8.10 is incredibly smooth and purty. And quake4-smp runs smooth as hell.
I'm also developing with the stream sdk, and AMD has been very helpful (when I speak to them more directly through email). A number of concerns that I have raised with them have been addressed.