EvilDonut wrote:I also want GOOD support and stability. I want to focus 90% on my film, not spending hours diagnosing driver problems, calling tech support, and other junk. So if a card, which i can tell my best buy tech to put in, install, runs beautifully - has opengl, works in AE well - and i never have to hear about it ever again - that's the one I want!
ATI will fulfill all of those requirements. I'll be honest here, Nvidia is the lead developer of OpenGL, but that's not to say ATI doesn't support it or do well in it. OpenGL-based games (Doom 3, Prey, Quake IV) tend to perform better on Nvidia cards, while Direct3D games (most Windows titles, including Half-Life 2, Unreal Tournament 3, World in Conflict, Crysis, etc). That's not to say ATI cards perform BADLY at OpenGL-based games -- my X1900 played Prey beautifully.
In order to stay completely honest with you, I'll admit I have a personal liking to ATI cards -- this being the case due to my experience with the competitor's cards. I had used a Geforce 2 MX 200, which I then upgraded to a Geforce 4 MX 440 so that I could attend LAN parties and play EverQuest. After I had played Unreal Tournament (the first one) at a LAN party, and losing frames-per-second in a botmatch with a whole EIGHT bots, I purchased a Radeon 9600 XT in late 2003.
I had no idea what I was in for.
My parents and I helped my sister move into her apartment in Phoenix, Arizona and it was then that they decided that I could have the latest and greatest computer that they had just purchased. It was my first PC with a processor speed faster than 1.0 GHz (in retrospect, it was probably the Pentium III that 'nixed my Unreal Tournament gaming experience, but still). I put in the Radeon 9600, and began to use the best graphics card known to man. I used that thing until summer of 2005, when I invested in my Radeon X800 XL as a timely upgrade. I paid $289 for that X800 -- and two months later the Geforce 7800 GT's were selling for that price. Needless to say, I felt like stabbing myself in the eye.
Nonetheless, I was tiring of carrying my desktop from place to place to attend a LAN party, and that's when I decided I needed to purchase a laptop. Christmas of 2005 arrived, and my parents had done a little scouting around and managed to scrounge up an old Compaq Presario laptop with an 850 MHz Pentium III, 256 MB of RAM, and an 8 MB ATI Rage M1 graphics card. It not only played, but HOSTED LAN games of Age of Empires II without missing a beat. IT EVEN PLAYED UNREAL TOURNAMENT FLAWLESSLY
Despite this, my old Compaq obviously couldn't play... Half-Life 2 very well. It couldn't even play Counter-Strike very well. Not Counter-Strike: Source, no, original Counter-Strike just didn't work on it. And, after CES 2006, I began obsessing over the idea of a Dell Inspiron E1705, Dell's 17-inch gaming laptop without the XPS name (and price). It had a built-in Geforce Go 7800, a dual-core processor, and plenty of memory space. I literally checked the price of that laptop every week. I went to Dell.com and configured one almost each week.
It wasn't until late August of 2006 that I was finally able to order one -- but there it was. By then, the E1705's featured Core 2 Duo's (instead of just plain Core Duos), Geforce Go 7900's, and Windows XP Media Center Edition. Here's where I, ultimately, chose ATI over Nvidia. When I ordered that laptop, I was most eager for the 7900 inside it. It was about time for a nice graphics upgrade, and the 7900's not only supported Shader Model 3.0 in DirectX 9 (which my X800 XL did not), but they also scored much higher in benchmarks (the X800 was meant to compete against the 6800 -- NOT the 7800's).
When I got it, I was COMPLETELY let down. The image quality in games was utterly abysmal, compared to my Radeon X800 XL. The addition of Shader Model 3.0 support was completely negated by the fact that the 7000-series cards have the worst anti-aliasing
known to man. In addition, they are architecturally incapable of rendering anti-aliasing simultaneously with high dynamic range lighting, a real-time 3D lighting technique that was just beginning to show up in just about every game
. To worsen it all, the card couldn't do like... ANY in-game settings on my Source games (Half-Life 2, Counter-Strike: Source, Half-Life 2: Deathmatch, Garry's Mod, etc). Every time I tried to set my in-game settings, I got this "Could not write to config.cfg" error in the console. And, to my utter dismay, I could only force in-game settings on those games by doing it externally, through the Nvidia Control Panel -- and then I could only do one game at a time. Why? Because most of Valve's source games are ALL named hl2.exe, and, even though these multiple instances of hl2.exe are in different directories, the Nvidia Control Panel couldn't actually distinguish them as different files.
So, I could go into the Nvidia Control Panel and set my in-game settings for, say, Counter-Strike: Source, and be happy. Briefly. Because, if I later wanted to go play Half-Life 2: Deathmatch, I couldn't just go and force settings through the Control Panel, because it was ALSO named hl2.exe. I couldn't even DELETE the entry that I had for Counter-Strike: Source, and then just add an entry for Half-Life 2: Deathmatch, because... I just couldn't. No, in order for me to be able to do something as simple as setting my in-game video quality settings
, I had to uninstall and reinstall my Nvidia drivers
. Which, I might add, to this date have not been updated since JULY OF 2006. Yes, that's BEFORE I bought my laptop.
Then I bought a laptop with a Radeon X1900... and suffered none of those problems. I did encounter one issue -- for the longest time I couldn't play Prey on my laptop, but that was because Alienware wasn't actually updating the driver page for my laptop. Then they did, and it worked, and has worked ever since. Yaaaaay. The end.
Actually, it's not the end. I later found a little utility that allows me to use desktop ATI driver releases for my laptop, so I never have to worry about not having proper drivers ever again, because ATI updates it's drivers once a month, which is why they name their driver releases like "Catalyst 7.12," which is indicative of the driver release of 2007
, in December, the 12
th month. Yaaay. The end for real this time.
Evman wrote:When I got my brand spanking new top of the line PC in 2004, I had to take it back to the computer store at least 5 times in the first 2 and a half months.
No offense, but... that's probably not Windows's or the PC's fault, unless you went with some brand like Acer or Gateway, and if you didn't opt to have any security software or pre-installed program removal... well, that's probably going to happen. A PC, in the same conditions as a Mac, will work just as well as a Mac. Unfortunately, most PC's never get the chance, because they're sold by mega-OEM's who pre-install enough trial software on the machine that you could measure it with a scale, and in that regard, I give Apple the utter kudos it deserves.
But again, I'm using Vista. I've sent this PC in once -- because I spilled water on it.
Evman wrote:Coming off of a new problem with my PC at least once every few months, sometimes it amazes me how I've managed to avoid any problems with my MBP so far... then I remember that it's a Mac...
Apart from being completely untrue, that's a fairly inflammatory statement. I feel inclined to add: 17" MacBook Pro's still don't have a numeric keypad, so hah.