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Advise on video cards

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For all you experts out there who have been fighting video drivers, video boards and each other on this forum is there anyone here who can recommend me a new video card. I am looking into buying either of these two cards-Hercules 3D Prophet 9800Pro 128DDR -Club3D nVidia GF FX5900 128DDR VIVOI have the GF4 4200 card at the moment.Any suggestions and/or recommendations including driver tips and tricks before my weekend will turn into a drama of installing and re-installing 20 versions of drivers and patches?Any suggestions?Mannie

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>I am looking into buying either of these two cards>>-Hercules 3D Prophet 9800Pro 128DDR >-Club3D nVidia GF FX5900 128DDR VIVO>Any suggestions and/or recommendations including driver tips>and tricksWhat are the prices? I have an ATI 9500 Pro. I like ATI hardware. The ATI cards are almost exactly DX9 specific. They worked with MS (and others) on the DX9 spec, so they are very precise to the API. NVidia was not involved in the DX as much (did they come in late?). Hence, they have a card that does not conform as closely. They decided to take a slightly different approach in how they did things internally. They have better hardware features and capabilities as a result, but it is not as pure when it comes to DX9. The trade off is, if you program to the Nvidia advantages, you can get a really super result. However, the Nvidia cards trail the performance of the ATI cards when it comes to DX9 applications in just about every benchmark you will see.When it comes to FS, it is a MS product and hence uses the DX9 API. The ATI cards will work very well with this especially when you turn up the AF and AA. However (again) FS is very CPU limited. Truth be told, you will not max out the cards abilities with FS. So performance wise, it is a wash IMO. It all comes down to image quality for FS when you start talking these high end cards. I have not seen FS with a high end NVidia card.At this point, I think for the two cards you mention I would go with price. Each will do you fine. If you are going to be playing a lot of Doom3 as well as FS, I would go with Nvidia becuase Carmack is coding specifically to take advantages of some of its higher end features and the way it renders shadows. If not, or if you plan on playing a lot of Half Life 2, then ATI gets the nod IMO.AFA drivers go, I can only speak to the ATI drivers. They update them reguarly and have a rabid users group. Still, some games do have their problems and someone noticed in another thread that ATI cards don't anti alias the alpha layer in skins that use them. My past experience with Nvidia is that they also have very good drivers.LOng story short, buy the cheaper of the two.Good luck!Scott M.

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Scott,Thanks for the update. The prices are more or less the same and I am only using my computer for FS and nothing else. What is more important to me is to get rid of the slide show I am experiencing with FS4. I fly 99% inside the cockpit using only the 2D panels. As most of my flights are in GA aircraft in IFR mode I would like to have fast gauge updates. I have been using for years Nvidia and was quite happy with it although I found it always exhausting to find the right settings and drivers for my cards. I guess I will havge to flip a coin...Mannie

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Howdy Mannie,>I am only using my computer for FS and nothing else.Most all flight sims are CPU limited software. The CPU has so much to do to create the world, control ATC, calc. flight dynamics, traffic, and so on that it doesn't have much time to create the world to pass to the video card for rendering. The video card does a lot of waiting around for information as it were. Unlike, say a shooter or FPS game like Doom where all the CPU has to do (mostly) is create the world then wait on the video card to render it.If you want to maximize your FS experience I would recommend getting the biggest honking CPU you can and at least 1 gb of memory. If you put a speedy video card into a slow CPU system, it will just wait around like any other card waiting for inforation to be fed to it. They don't calculate the world, they just render it.For reference I run an AMD 2.8 XP, Nforce2 chip set, and 1 gb PC2700 DDR ram along with my R9500Pro (about $150.00)and get very smooth frame rates at 1024*780. With Ulimate Traffic going I might get a little stuttering at a busy airport when I look around, but the panels are almost always smooth.Unless you are looking at buying for the future (always risky) why not consider a 9800 non pro card? Much cheaper and in FS you probably won't see any difference between it and a 9800 Pro ($$) Even a 9600 Pro or a 9600 Pro w/ 256 VRAM may be a good alternative.>I have been>using for years Nvidia and was quite happy with it although I>found it always exhausting to find the right settings and>drivers for my cards. Pick a set and keep with it when you find it ;) >I guess I will havge to flip a coin...Heh, it always comes down to that doesn't. For FS, I would go with a 9600 Pro and save some money. Maybe put the rest toward memory or something. If you are going to play other games, then that is another consideration.Good luck!Scott M.

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>Howdy Mannie,>>>I am only using my computer for FS and nothing else.>>Most all flight sims are CPU limited software. The CPU has so>much to do to create the world, control ATC, calc. flight>dynamics, traffic, and so on that it doesn't have much time to>create the world to pass to the video card for rendering. The>video card does a lot of waiting around for information as it>were. Unlike, say a shooter or FPS game like Doom where all>the CPU has to do (mostly) is create the world then wait on>the video card to render it.Actually with todays current generation of VC's that statement is false. The video card gets the instructions and renders it. Although you are correct in saying that FS's in general are limited by the CPU. Regardless of wether it's an FPS or a Sim. The jobs of both the CPU and the VC never change.>If you want to maximize your FS experience I would recommend>getting the biggest honking CPU you can and at least 1 gb of>memory. If you put a speedy video card into a slow CPU>system, it will just wait around like any other card waiting>for inforation to be fed to it. They don't calculate the>world, they just render it.Depending on what card your upgrading from a huge performance increase can be seen by upgrading your VC. The difference may not be as much as with a faster CPU but it could still be a tremendous difference. Again, like I said, the GPU is responsible for a lot more creation of the scene than your stating. Todays cards allow the CPU to drop work that it would otherwise do (IE creating the world).Honestly, depending on the system you will see no real appreciable difference between 512 Megs of Ram and 1 Gig if your machine is properly configured and uneeded services and apps are disabled. I have never seen FS9 use more than around 400 megs on my machine or my test rig (3.2 P4C at 4Ghz, 512Megs OCZ3500, 9800Pro 256)>For reference I run an AMD 2.8 XP, Nforce2 chip set, and 1 gb>PC2700 DDR ram along with my R9500Pro (about $150.00)and get>very smooth frame rates at 1024*780. With Ulimate Traffic>going I might get a little stuttering at a busy airport when I>look around, but the panels are almost always smooth.>>Unless you are looking at buying for the future (always risky)>why not consider a 9800 non pro card? Much cheaper and in FS>you probably won't see any difference between it and a 9800>Pro ($$) Even a 9600 Pro or a 9600 Pro w/ 256 VRAM may be a>good alternative.With the upcoming games and Sims a 128 Meg card should not be a consideration. At higher resolutions, FS9 will completely fill a 128 meg card. DoomIII will really need a 256 Meg card to shine.Just trying to clear some things up.Bobby

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>>I am looking into buying either of these two cards>>>>-Hercules 3D Prophet 9800Pro 128DDR >>-Club3D nVidia GF FX5900 128DDR VIVO>>>Any suggestions and/or recommendations including driver tips>>and tricks>>What are the prices? I have an ATI 9500 Pro. I like ATI>hardware. The ATI cards are almost exactly DX9 specific. >They worked with MS (and others) on the DX9 spec, so they are>very precise to the API. NVidia was not involved in the DX as>much (did they come in late?). Hence, they have a card that>does not conform as closely. They decided to take a slightly>different approach in how they did things internally. They>have better hardware features and capabilities as a result,>but it is not as pure when it comes to DX9. The trade off is,>if you program to the Nvidia advantages, you can get a really>super result. However, the Nvidia cards trail the performance>of the ATI cards when it comes to DX9 applications in just>about every benchmark you will see.Since the 9500, All ATI cards are FULLY DX9 compliant. MS writes the code for DX9. VC makers just right drivers and develop hardware to support it. Nvidia made the mistake in the way they interpret certain DX9 commands. Only with the release of the latest FX line could the statement Nvidia has better hardware be true and even that really isn't. The only NV card that can stand toe to toe with an ATI is the 5900 really. Any ATI since the 9500Pro will easily beat both the new 52 and 5600FX's at almost any benchmark.>When it comes to FS, it is a MS product and hence uses the DX9>API. The ATI cards will work very well with this especially>when you turn up the AF and AA. However (again) FS is very>CPU limited. Truth be told, you will not max out the cards>abilities with FS. So performance wise, it is a wash IMO. It>all comes down to image quality for FS when you start talking>these high end cards. I have not seen FS with a high end>NVidia card.FS does not use any DX9 code. A product doesn't have to be from MS to utilize DX9 solely. The ATI cards work very well with FS becuase of the 8 rendering pipelines and their core and mem clock speeds. Not becuase of DX9. As far as maxxing out the card with FS9, the cards can most surely be maxxed out. At 1200x1600x32 a 128 meg cards buffer can be filled depending on the scene being rendered. so it's not a wash performance wise. >At this point, I think for the two cards you mention I would>go with price. Each will do you fine. If you are going to be>playing a lot of Doom3 as well as FS, I would go with Nvidia>becuase Carmack is coding specifically to take advantages of>some of its higher end features and the way it renders>shadows. If not, or if you plan on playing a lot of Half Life>2, then ATI gets the nod IMO.DoomIII was being developed long before the latest NV cards were manufactured. The performance difference between the ATI and NV cards in DoomIII comes down to proccessing the code. Something that can be corrected in the ATI's with driver changes. The same holds true in reverse for the HL2 issue.>AFA drivers go, I can only speak to the ATI drivers. They>update them reguarly and have a rabid users group. Still,>some games do have their problems and someone noticed in>another thread that ATI cards don't anti alias the alpha layer>in skins that use them. My past experience with Nvidia is>that they also have very good drivers.Althought the statementabout the way ATI renders AA with Alpha textures is true, if your looking for the best possible combination of FR's and image quality, the only choice is really ATI. Although I personally do not like the site, Toms did a very well done review of FR's and image quality using FS9.Please don't take this or my other post as a bash. It isn't meant to be. What it is meant to be is a clearing up of info plain and simple.Hope this clears some things upBobby

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All,Well I guess each one of you has given me the right perspective to my question and I am confident that I will make a right choice with balancing CPU & GPU. I guess I will go this time with a 3Ghz Intel and ATI card. This is a switch from AMD and Nvidia just for the adventure as well as for the reason that I had to cancel my flight this weekend due to bad weather. So I have time and 300 Euro's more to spend in the shop ;-)) Thank you all it was veru helpfull...Mannie

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If Mannie doesnt mind me asking on his thread, do any of you guys know if the ATI 9600 Pro 256mb is a good card? I found it for about $160, which is right in my budget... slightly over actually. I have a 1.8 ghz with 512 mb, so I have a midrange computer, but with a GF2 MX200 I dont get more than 25-30 in the best of circumstances,usually, and I believe the video card is the bottleneck. So, back to my question, is that a good card for FS and most other games out there (except Doom III, H.L. 2, etc) for my budget?

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I just lost a long post. Am not gonna write another long one. :(>FS does not use any DX9 code.My mistake. Although MS does list the following under requirments"DirectX 9 or later (included with Microsoft Flight Simulator: A Century of Flight)"MS develops DX9 with contributions from hardware developers, not in a vacume. ATI (and others such as SiS) worked closely with MS on DX9. Developers usually do this to get their way so their hardware philosophies are more profitable. Nvidia was trying to do things a little differently (cocky becuase they thought they had an "in" with their X-Box ties?) and had to make some backward kludges to be DX9 compliant. This is why Nvidia cards, while technologically impressive, fall down in DX9 benchmarks. >A product doesn't have to be from MS to utilize DX9 solely. Never said it did.>The ATI cards work very well with FS becuase of the 8 rendering >pipelines and their core and mem clock speeds. Not becuase of DX9. The hardware and API are both required to make a product go. MS wrote DX and MSFS. ATI has adhered to the DX API very closely. It is a close association that makes things work well.>As far as maxxing>out the card with FS9, the cards can most surely be maxxed>out. At 1200x1600x32 a 128 meg cards buffer can be filled>depending on the scene being rendered. so it's not a wash>performance wise.Eh? If you have the CPU power to run MSFS at 1200x1600x32, then we can talk about that. For MSFS, it will be a wash performance wise. Other games possibly not.BTW.. the CPU has the triangle setup engine and has to assign the vertice attributes. Not the video card. The video card can only texture and light what the CPU passes to it. At this point, video cards do not handle all geometric aspects of the sim. If the CPU is busy doing other stuff, the video card waits. Hence, CPU limited games.>DoomIII was being developed long before the latest NV cards>were manufactured. The performance difference between the ATI>and NV cards in DoomIII comes down to proccessing the code.Do a Google search on Carmack and read his published discussions along these lines. He talks a lot about the advantages of Nvidia hardware over ATI. He has been writing different back ends to take advantage of various hardware. Not simply adhering exclusively to any one API.>Althought the statementabout the way ATI renders AA with Alpha>textures is true, if your looking for the best possible>combination of FR's and image quality, the only choice is>really ATI.I can't say that I have seen MSFS on Nvdia hardware. So I can't say. MSFS is so CPU limited that I would say that either card would be the same FPS wise.>Please don't take this or my other post as a bash.Sorry for my short reply. There are some things we disagree on and I don't think you are entirely correct in some of your assertions. As I said before, MSFS is CPU limited. IMO, Any good card will provide good results so long as the CPU can deliver the triangle and vertices for the card to render. If I had the choice I would go with an ATI 9600 Pro and save some money. Since MSFS is a DX game, and ATI closely follows DX specs, it makes even more sense. But the NVidia hardware is impressive.>BobbyScott M.

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>MS develops DX9 with contributions from hardware developers,>not in a vacume. ATI (and others such as SiS) worked closely>with MS on DX9. Developers usually do this to get their way>so their hardware philosophies are more profitable. Nvidia>was trying to do things a little differently (cocky becuase>they thought they had an "in" with their X-Box ties?) and had>to make some backward kludges to be DX9 compliant. This is>why Nvidia cards, while technologically impressive, fall down>in DX9 benchmarks.I never said they do it in a Vac. Unfortunately, your wrong in your assumption of how it works. Hardware vendors have, since the day it was being developed, follow the DX spec. Although MS may work with developers, the software is written for the hardware to follow. MS favored noone. The whole XBox debacle was based on the capabilities of GPU's available at the time. MS doesn't care who it uses. It's goal is to produce the best Console a consumer can purchase. Besides, the console debacle is a mute point when it comes to PC based gaming. >The hardware and API are both required to make a product go. >MS wrote DX and MSFS. ATI has adhered to the DX API very>closely. It is a close association that makes things work>well.Sorry but your wrong. I can build a VC that follows DX9 to the letter and if it doesn't have the hardware capabilities, than I don't care how closely it follows it, performance will suffer. Do a search on the subject of rendering pipelines and texturing. The biggest boost to the performance of ATI when it comes to AA and AF is the larger pipeline that ATI offered and the way it rendered textures.>Eh? If you have the CPU power to run MSFS at 1200x1600x32,>then we can talk about that. For MSFS, it will be a wash>performance wise. Other games possibly not.Your misinformed. There are quite a few individuals on this forum who would also agree. I have seen FS9 run very well on everything from 600Mhz machines to my 4Ghz box. It is a known fact that a 128 meg cards buffer can be filled by FS9 if enough textures are called upon to be rendered.>BTW.. the CPU has the triangle setup engine and has to assign>the vertice attributes. Not the video card. The video card>can only texture and light what the CPU passes to it. At>this point, video cards do not handle all geometric aspects of>the sim. If the CPU is busy doing other stuff, the video card>waits. Hence, CPU limited games.You really should read up on your hardware scott before posting. The hardware triangle setup engine is what makes 3D accelerators

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Just a few points to add here...FS9 does not have nor use any DX9 graphics code, hence only a dx7 card is required (DX8 card to use the bumpmaped water).Nvidia programmed their DX9 hardware before DX9 was final and that is a fact (like they chose to over program features that aren

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