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Seroja

OpenGL Radeon 9600 Pro vs. GeForce 2

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OK, this might be not the correct forum, sorry if so (didn't really know where to post). I've had a GeForce 2 for like 5 years now (not really sure, my comp is quite old) and I'm OK with this card, works flawlessly, doesn't consume much power or generate heat. Yet, it's native support seems to be only for DirectX 7, which is very old now, and in OpenGL it doesn't support shaders. I've got an opportunity to buy ATi Radeon 9600 Pro cheaply (~55$, take into account that here everything is more expensive), and I wonder if it's worth it. It's probably one of the best cards for my motherboard (some old MSI with VIA chipset, universal AGP, or so it seems). Now, it comes down to companies. Has it been a GeForce, I'd buy it for sure. Yet, as it's ATi, I wonder. How much trouble will it cause me? I can bear somewhat annoying drivers (that require .Net), but ATi doesn't seem to be very friendly with OpenGL. It should support Shaders 2.0, but I don't use any shaders yet, and ain't planning that for some time now. From what I've heard, ATi cards lack some basic extensions (even ARB ones) that even older nVidia cards have. Just how much trouble will I have with ATi when programming OpenGL (not extremely advanced stuff)? Should I stay on nVidia, or get this card (it should support some new stuff GeForce 2 doesn't like framebuffer object)? Any help will be appreciated.

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I've done a massive amount of OpenGL programming on a 9500 Pro (which is pretty similar)--including some fairly sophisticated GLSL. I really doubt you'll have any trouble with it.

And in any case, the 9x00s are VASTLY superior to NVIDIA's cards from the same generation (the GeForce FX).

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In my laptop I've got an ATI mobility 9000 and I'd swear it runs OpenGL programs faster than DirectX. I'm not familiar with the specs of the card (support of either library) and can't measure between two different programs - but short story, I love my ATi and I'll never go back to nVidia now. Of course, I'm still running a GeForce FX 5200 on my desktop, that might have something to do with it :P

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I'm running a 6800 Ultra 256MB in my laptop and I'll never go back to desktops...

oh, and my point is ATI 9800 Pro that I used to have had heating issues and random crashes. So stay away from it, unless you can find stable drivers, which ATI is not well known for.

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Quote:
Original post by oconnellseanm
So stay away from it, unless you can find stable drivers, which ATI is not well known for.


FUD.

The 9600 (DirectX9,SM2) is vasly superior to the Geforce2 (DirectX7,FF) and to the competing NVIDIA GeforceFX generation.

I have previously used a 9600XT (for almost 2 years) and have not had any trouble with ATi drivers or OpenGL (my main OpenGL dev machines are running ATi cards).

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i'm downright disgusted with ati's software, but the drivers are much better than they used to be. i wouldn't worry about any real problems using opengl with an ati card. any problems with opengl/direct3d/nvidia/ati are usually a result of the programmer doing something wrong.

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I've got an ATi something or other in my PowerBook and it seems to run my GL stuff fine. Never had one on Windows except my old 8 MB Rage Mobility Pro in 1999, and that wasn't too bad.

Though, I like Nvidia better. My 7800GT is like my best friend. I feed it triangles and shaders and it's like "Can't you do better than that? Come on!"

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I still have a Radeon 9200. I have tested Irrlicht's demos that come with the SDK, and the only real difference between the OpenGL and DX3D renderers on my card is that in the OpenGL side, it doesn't support parralax mapping, and DX3D does. I think that has to do with that DX had the shaders first, not so much with DX better than GL on my card. Besides that feature, the Frames Per Second on the same demo tends to be the same for either render system. The game I'm making has a few good particle systems and the models for the asteroids are over 3000 tris each, and it still keeps over 60 FPS with too many roids on screen. So don't ditch the ATI. Think though, the 9600 is much newer than mine, I'm sure GL could handle the parralax mapping on that one. So yeah, at that good of a deal, take it.

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Thanks everyone for the input. I guess there isn't much to lose on the upgrade :D

Now, I still would like to know what ATi doesn't support.
On my dad's comp there is X800 GTO2, so I compared the extensions it supports to the ones GeForce 2 supports.

Out of ARB extensions, no pixel buffer object (not even EXT, and GeForce 2 got it as ARB), texture rectangle only as EXT (GeForce 2 got it as ARB), and no GL_ARB_imaging (what is it?).

Out of EXT, no Cg shaders :( (I wonder how GeForce 2 could have Cg)
That is, GLSL only?
Also, texture lod (not lod bias) only as SGIS (GeForce 2 has as EXT as well), no shared texture palette and no paletted texture. No PBO again.

To summarize, no PBO, texture palettes, Cg shaders and imaging. Never used anything of these, are they important?

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I was a bit surprised for ARB_imaging and PBO missing (there are pretty common extensions). So I checked in the OpenGL viewer extension database (http://www.realtech-vr.com/glview/) and 9600 is reported as having these extensions.

For Cg shaders, I heard that there are ways to make them running with ATI hardware but I never tried (GLSL is perfect for me).

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Well, according to Delphi3d 9600 doesn't support imaging and PBOs.

By the way, could you explain what is imaging (never heard of it), and what are PBOs used for (yes, like VBO for pixel data, but really what does it result in? Offscreen rendering?).

Edit: In the thread about ATi and texture rectangle, they say it isn't accessable from GLSL (indeed 9600 doesn't seem to have ARB_texture_rectangle). Is that really so? No NPOT textures for me? Or could this (or even better real NPOT) be added later in drivers?

[Edited by - Seroja on March 16, 2006 7:45:26 AM]

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Quote:
Original post by nts
Quote:
Original post by oconnellseanm
So stay away from it, unless you can find stable drivers, which ATI is not well known for.


FUD.


Actually, I've had similar problems with my 9800. It's OK most of the time, but if I try to play a newish game or turn up the LOD on my own stuff it locks the computer unless it's VERY well cooled. I bought a better cooler for it, but it still has it's moments unless I have all my fans on full. I assume oconnellseanm speaks from experience, as do I. No FUD here.

I'd still advise Seroja to go with the 9600. They're good cards and the 3 or 4 of my friends who have them haven't had the heat/crash issue at all.

nts, you say you've used 9600s but have you used a 9800 for any period of time?

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Quote:
Original post by mrbastard
nts, you say you've used 9600s but have you used a 9800 for any period of time?


No I have not extensively used 9800s (not at all with newer games) but I doubt that all of them overheat and lock up, otherwise I suspect that hardware sites would be all over it. There are also a few different reasons a card would overheat, including bad case ventilation.

Just out of interest what temperatures are you getting for it? I think up to 60 (under load) for that generation would be fine.

I was calling FUD on his comment on the stable drivers and not his 9800 overheating. I have not had driver trouble with ATi cards since the 9xxx series, the 7xxx ones (at the time) did have some problems though.

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In French we have a good proverb: "The grass always looks more green on the other side of the fence".

I develop daily with a varied set of ATI and NVidia cards. Some have advantages/drawbacks, of course, but in the end i haven't noticed a higher amount of problems on ATI vs NVidia, and that includes drivers (which are pretty buggy on both sides). Last month, my 7800 GTX had overheating problems. I installed a new fan in the case to help and haven't had any problem since. Should i have blamed NVidia for that ?

Y.

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Quote:
Original post by nts
There are also a few different reasons a card would overheat, including bad case ventilation.

You're probably right, but it still seems more prone to overheating than most cards. That said, at the time I went for it because the nvidia alternatives had massive loud fans. Maybe I should have gone for the noisey but well cooled option.

Quote:
Original post by nts
Just out of interest what temperatures are you getting for it?

I have no idea. I don't think it has a heat sensor of it's own (though I vaguely remember that another 9800 variant does) and I've no thermometer to test it with. As Ysaneya implies, it may not be the 9800 that locks the PC, but the heat it generates causes something else (probably CPU) to overheat.

Quote:
Original post by nts
I was calling FUD on his comment on the stable drivers and not his 9800 overheating.

Fair enough. I haven't had any particularly bad experiences with ATI drivers in the last few years. They're not great, but I haven't used a recent nvidia card/driver to compare them to.

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I have a Radeon 9600 and have had absolutely zero problems with it. It performs as expected. It's becoming a little to slow for my tastes, but other than that it's a winner.

I had a radeon 7000 something in the past and I do remember those drivers being a pain to install, but that was at least three years ago.

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About the OpenGL extensions ;

The imaging subset is a set of functionnality for manipulating images (filters, convolution, histogram,...). It has been in the spec for a long time ago (I don't remember when it appeared) and most cards do support it.

As far as I know, PBO are mainly designed for asynchronous pixel data transfer between the CPU and the GPU. Before PBO, you used glReadPixels which needs the driver's render queue to be flushed. When you issue a glReadPixel aimed at a PBO, the driver can postpone the readback until you access the PBO, therefore allowing asynchronous data transfer. I can think of situations where it could prove very usefull but I have never encountered any.
For the time being, I think most applications can avoid needing reading data from the graphic card. In the near future, with the development of GPGPU, transfering data back from the GPU to the CPU will be more needed and this extension could prove very usefull.

Offscreen rendering will typically use EXT_framebuffer_object for rendering and eventually PBO for reading back the datas.

Delphi3D database is not that up to date. You chould check the driver history to be sure.

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