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If you had the choice...ATI v. NVidia

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ThePikesI need some input/opinions/feedback/uninformed hunches on a video card. Tonight I am going to be buying a Dell Inspiron 8600 notebook with the Pentium 1.7 Centrino processor, 512 RAM, 80 G HD, etc. and I have somewhat of a choice between a 32MG ATI 9000 card, 64 MG NVidia 4200 card and a 128 MG NVidia 6500 card. I have seen passionate stories about the pros and cons of the ATI vs. the NVidia with FS9. With the system I'm buying, should I go with the biggest memory for eye-candy effect or should I go with ATI that many say accepts FS9 better? I'll hang up and listen... Larry

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Larry,You will probably get much more meaningful replies than mine but I couldn't resist commenting on the purchase. Are you getting this sytem to play FS9 ? A notebook is less than optimum platform to play a demanding software like FS9 and it will probably show first in the quality of the image on your monitor (eye-candy factor). Pentium 1.7 is by now a fairly dated CPU too.I use laptops at work, some fairly high-end and I would be a sorry simmer if I had to play FS9 on them.Michael J.http://www.reality-xp.com/community/nr/rsc/rxp-higher.jpg

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Well, if those are what you have to choose from, I would go with the Nvidia 4200 card. If the model of the ATI card was higher than a 9000 32MB then I would recommendgoing with ATI... but if those are your choices.Jim

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I'm sorry, but I have to tend to agree with Michael's assement of the situation/system.Jim

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>Larry,>>You will probably get much more meaningful replies than mine>but I couldn't resist commenting on the purchase. Are you>getting this sytem to play FS9 ? A notebook is less than>optimum platform to play a demanding software like FS9 and it>will probably show first in the quality of the image on your>monitor (eye-candy factor). Pentium 1.7 is by now a fairly>dated CPU too.>>I use laptops at work, some fairly high-end and I would be a>sorry simmer if I had to play FS9 on them.>Michael,Actually, I've been running FS2K2 on a Dell Inspiron 8100 for two years now (P4 1.0, 512 RAM, 32 M NVidia) with great results. I travel a lot for business (navy training/simulation), so I actually get much more dream time flying with my laptop than if I had to be tied down to my big Dell desktop at home (which I can never use because of my four kids). So a laptop works very well, especially if it means I actually get to use it (cause the kids don't mess with Dad's laptop!). The Centrino processor is very new and compares to a P4 2.7 system, only it takes less battery power and requires a lot less cooling. Thanks for the words. BlueGhost

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Oh! Well, that sounds good. :) I still stand by my recommendation for choice of video card if those are all you can select from. The 9000 is pretty old, no chance a of a newer ATI model for it than that?Jim

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Those are the only choices that Dell gives me for this system. I'm inclined toward the 128 MG NVidia since my older one did so well. Yet I see what folks are saying and it makes me pause to think. That's a lot of money to spend on a flying...er, work computer. :)BlueGhost

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Given those choices, I'd opt for the 4200. BTW, whomever told you the Centrino 1.7 was the equivalent of a 2.7 didn't know what they were talking about. It's the equivalent of a 1.7 . You can bet that FS9 doesn't care what the marketing guys say when it comes to available CPU cycles :-) .Doug

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If I were you I would get the Inspiron 8500 instead of the 8600. You would get a much faster processor for about the same amount of money.Rob

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My choice the 4200.Nvidia anytime for me- I believe NVidia supporters may possibly be in the minority these days but I've had several NVidia cards of various types and they've always done well-by comparison the only ATI card I ever had was endless trouble.Not conclusive I know ,but just my opinion.Dave

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> Given those choices, I'd opt for the 4200. BTW, whomever>told you the Centrino 1.7 was the equivalent of a 2.7 didn't>know what they were talking about. It's the equivalent of a>1.7 . You can bet that FS9 doesn't care what the marketing>guys say when it comes to available CPU cycles :-) .>>DougDoug,Thanks for the words. Your comments made me go to several sites to check out the claims of the Intel Centrino. The first thing I realized is that I pretty much have to take their word for it since I am not a geek. having said that, the tests they ran (which for laptops puts application performance/speed up against power (battery) useage, rated the Centrino 1.6G higher than the P4 2.6G and P3M 1.2G when it came to its ability to accomplish complex tasks faster in Powerpoint, Flash, Photoshop, Excel, etc. (you get the idea). Anyway, it would appear that this processor represents the first real attempt at a mobile processor from the ground up (rather than adapting desktop technology for the smaller box). There. I've already told you more than I know. Anyway, my experience from 15 years of simming is that it comes down to "Do you feel like you are flying?" Will I get the Centrino? I'll check out the 8500 with the std P4 and see how they compare. Thanks for the time and words. BlueGhost

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>My choice the 4200.Nvidia anytime for me- I believe NVidia>supporters may possibly be in the minority these days but>I've had several NVidia cards of various types and they've>always done well-by comparison the only ATI card I ever had>was endless trouble.Not conclusive I know ,but just my>opinion.>>DaveDave,I know what you mean. When I was shopping for my Dell 8100 2 years ago, the ATI folks were awash with strange blue lines across their screens (as I recall), so I backed off quick and went with the NVidia. Yet FS9 seems to be a new game as I listen to the forums. Now ATI folks are happy as clams and the NVidia folks tend to be a little more concerned. My concern is that, with a laptop, I can't just run out and change the card. I live with what I get. Makes you think before putting serious $$ on the table.BlueGhost

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>Photoshop, Excel, etc. (you get the idea). Anyway, it would>appear that this processor represents the first real attempt>at a mobile processor from the ground up (rather than adapting>desktop technology for the smaller box). It sounds a bit bizarre.Beacuse if this was true it would mean they developed some new architecture that makes up for lost CPU cycles. Then they could apply this new architecture to desktop and blow competition out of the water (icluding its own upcoming Prescot). I am far from expert but it just sounds too good to be true. There must be a very fine print somewhere ...Michael J.

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I think I have the NVidia 4200 in my Dell Inspiron, not 100% sure. I'm quite pleased with it. While I would go with an ATI for a desktop system, the memory advantage was the deciding bonus in favour of the Nvidia card. AFAIK, the NVidia 6500 card also supports DirectX9 / OpenGL 2.0 features (pixel shaders is the bonus here), while the NVidia 4200 and ATI 9000 don't (double-check, I'm not 100% sure). Not that FS9 is using any of this, but the next generation of games will. Plus, the 128MB should help performance along, since FS9 is very texture memory hungry with all the ground textures.On a side note, if you can afford it, get the widescreen version. It's quite a bit heavier, but really a blast visually.The statement that a laptop is worse than a desktop system is rubbish. My laptop outperforms my desktop by a bit although performance isn't that different (2.0Ghz vs 2.4Ghz). Laptops really have come a long way and I'm really impressed with my Dell Inspiron.Cheers, Christian

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I'd rather have new ATI Radeon drivers to fix the FS04 glitches brought on by 128MB ati 9x00 series cards.

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> Given those choices, I'd opt for the 4200. BTW, whomever>told you the Centrino 1.7 was the equivalent of a 2.7 didn't>know what they were talking about. It's the equivalent of a>1.7 . You can bet that FS9 doesn't care what the marketing>guys say when it comes to available CPU cycles :-) .Doug,Actually he's quite right. :) want to know why? Glad you asked....The Pentium M's 1MB cache is massive. Intel's current high-end mobile and desktop CPUs have only 512KB of L2, which makes the Pentium M look very different right off the bat.The Pentium M's huge L2 cache is complemented by 64KB of L1 cache that's split evenly between instruction and data caches. Intel won't tell us the size of the Pentium 4's L1 instruction cache, but the Pentium 4 M's 8KB L1 data cache is a quarter the size the Pentium M'sFrom the Tech-Report, One more difference between the Pentium M and Pentium 4's L1 cache is that the former is a write-back cache, while the latter is a write-through cache. With a write-through cache, data is written to L1 and main memory simultaneously; write-back caching only writes L1 data to main memory when absolutely necessary. In theory, a write-back cache should be faster than a write-through cache because the write-back cache does fewer slow memory writes. The Pentium M is loaded with cache and other goodies that let it execute a much higher number of instructions per clock (IPC) than mobile versions of Intel's Pentium 4, tooHope this clears things up.Bobby

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I've found the NVidia more reliable than ATI, it'll work in any game very well, whereas ATI might have some issues displaying the graphics.ATI can be more efficient with electricity, which might be a factor for the laptops.However 32mb cards, in the gaming world, have pretty much lived over their age by now and as I recall, ATI 9000 isn't as powerful as NVidias 4200.IF only playing FS on a laptop, I'd probably go for the ATI - cheaper and requires less juice from the batteries.IF playing other games than just FS or I'd really just would like to have a good performance in FS, I'd go for the NVidias.On the computer I use to play, has NVidias GeForce Ti4200 and graphics quality wise it's performing very good aka the graphics are correctly displayed under all circumstances.I've heard ATI might have problems displaying things correctly in the games, which was true especially back at the older radeon generations, when I had one.However ATI has improved since the days, but has still some ways to go for the reliability of NVidia, even if better performing FPS wise.(the older ATI Radeon 64mb performed 128x anisotrophy in OpenGL with a far lesser impact on FPS than this far newer GF Ti4200, go figure! and I hear newer ATI's are better at FSAA and .. still in anisotrophy.. but alas, not as guaranteed to display graphics 100%)

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> and I hear newer ATI's are better at FSAA>and .. still in anisotrophy.. but alas, not as guaranteed to>display graphics 100%)>Yah Der ATI's AA is rally good, but da aniso really suxors.

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Be really careful comparing old video cards with new video cards. They are not the same thing. While ATI with their 9800 series stepped out in front for a bit, they did so with tremendous heat problems that is likely to have lots of folks collecting on the product warranty when the cards fry themselves. nVidia made the same mistake with their last batch but smartened up quickly with the 5900 series, going back to saner temperatures.Looking at the 9000 series is like discussing the GeForce 2 cards. They are completely different products.We have all had issues with nVidia drivers, jumping around through a set of 10 to find the best one, but in the end, at least there ARE 10 drivers available. ATI is always behind in drivers simply because they are a much smaller company and don't have the momentum to dedicate such a large group to drivers coupled with each card generally being completely different. nVidia had one of those rare good thoughts with their unified driver series, as it has probably saved them more money in the last 5 years then ATI has earned ;)Personally, I find it rather concerning to place a burning hot card close to my burning hot CPU and cross my fingers that those cheap mechanical fans don't seize up while I happen to be out of the house sending the house up in flames.Any card that runs hot enough to burn you should raise some eyebrows...Ray

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Actually Michael,I have a Dell Laptop that has a 64 MB video and it handles FS 9 just fine.. It is not lightning speed, but it performs pretty well.Barry

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>Be really careful comparing old video cards with new video>cards. They are not the same thing. While ATI with their 9800>series stepped out in front for a bit, they did so with>tremendous heat problems that is likely to have lots of folks>collecting on the product warranty when the cards fry>themselves. nVidia made the same mistake with their last batch>but smartened up quickly with the 5900 series, going back to>saner temperatures.>>Looking at the 9000 series is like discussing the GeForce 2>cards. They are completely different products.>>We have all had issues with nVidia drivers, jumping around>through a set of 10 to find the best one, but in the end, at>least there ARE 10 drivers available. ATI is always behind in>drivers simply because they are a much smaller company and>don't have the momentum to dedicate such a large group to>drivers coupled with each card generally being completely>different. nVidia had one of those rare good thoughts with>their unified driver series, as it has probably saved them>more money in the last 5 years then ATI has earned ;)>>Personally, I find it rather concerning to place a burning hot>card close to my burning hot CPU and cross my fingers that>those cheap mechanical fans don't seize up while I happen to>be out of the house sending the house up in flames.>>Any card that runs hot enough to burn you should raise some>eyebrows...>>RayRay, can you show me a high-end component that doesn't run hot? These components are designed to run hot, otherwise they'd need massive cooling systems to run properly and what company wants that image? Remember the Nvidia Geforce FX 5800 debacle with the cooling system that took up two slots and sounded like a leaf blower? They got slammed for that and rightly so. The 5900 also takes up two slots, but isn't quite as big as the 5800. So would you rather give up a PCI slot and have a leafblower in your system or have a card that only uses the slot it was designed for and doesn't sound like a leafblower, albeit a bit hotter? I'll take the non-leafblower, thank you very much.You're off on your driver analogy as well. Nvidia has been using their unified driver model for years now, whereas ATI just started theirs last year. Even so, ATI has quite a few drivers to choose from... I count 11 WHQL-certified Catalyst drivers since November of last year. How many WHQL-certified drivers has Nvidia released in the same amount of time? (it's 4, in case you were wondering) Don't get all of the non-WHQL Detonators confused with official releases... All those Detonators you see popping up every so often are intended only for OEMs, and have undergone very minimal testing.As for the size of the two companies, Nvidia does have more marketshare but ATI actually has more liquidity (stocks, cash, lack of debts, etc.)I'm not going to flame you for your assumption about ATI cards catching on fire, but I've never heard any reports of such a thing happening (I do happen to fix PCs for a living, and have yet to run across any ATI cards in flames) ;)-Max Cowgill

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ATI cards have built support for DX9.MSFS is a Microsoft product and uses DX9, not Open GL which is what Nvidea is good for.

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