Introduction

We recently took a look at several performance CPUs last week - and we were incredibly impressed by the amount of interest it spawned. Our little Linux section has been making waves left and right and we are quickly establishing ourselves as the premier Linux hardware journal. We have been working very diligently on a GPU roundup to top all GPU roundups in the Linux world. It has taken us a little over 3 weeks from start to finish, but we think that the final product is well worth it.

We get dozens of emails a day from readers asking which video card is right for them, particularly if they are going to give Linux a shot. It may be due to the circles that we run in, but the sheer interest for Linux among our peers seems to have peaked 100-fold what it was last year. Simple, clean distros like SuSE, Fedora Core and Mandrake have done wonders to the Windows migration crowd - and then there is the whole Gentoo sensation as well. Linux is definitely growing, but does it really have a competitive edge in any gaming or graphics intensive application?

The focus of this analysis is not to fire up glxgears, and see which program runs it faster. Instead, we want to look at some common graphics intensive applications for Linux and determine how well they run, particularly in relation to their Windows counterparts. We are interested in more than just the benchmark results - getting there is half the fun, and coincidentally, half the weighting for a purchase decision for many of us. Invariably, we will draw some conclusions from one GPU family to another out of the eleven cards that we have chosen to compare today.

When it comes to our quantitative data, we aren't just looking at average frames per second and declaring a winner. We have spent weeks working on a graphics benchmark utility specifically designed for AnandTech, which we are open sourcing and releasing to the world today as well.

Our New Benchmark: FrameGetter
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  • - Saturday, October 24, 2009 - link

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  • TheWounded - Monday, November 01, 2004 - link

    Its a nice test but i would have loved to see how the XGI volari cards would have done.
    I'm interested if the volari's could be a good choice for linux gamers. But unfortunatly there are no linux benchmarks involving the volaris.
    Reply
  • henca - Thursday, October 07, 2004 - link

    This was a very nice comparision of mid- and high-end cards. It would be interesting to also see a comparision with low-end cards like Matrox G550, Intel Extreme graphics and the Radeon 9200 family.

    The good news about these cards is that they are all supported by the opensource DRI drivers. An up-to-date Linux distribution should support them out of the box without having to download and install any binary drivers.
    Reply
  • MNKyDeth - Tuesday, October 05, 2004 - link

    I am a Linux gamer only so a benchmark comparison like this is great. I really enjoyed reading it. But, imo, there was a lack of games included in the benchmark roundup. I would like to see Savage, NWN, and either quake3 or Heretic 2 shown aswell.

    I also do not like the showing of wineX (Cedega) benchmarks as it defeats the purpose the gaming on linux. The only way I could recomend anyone to use wineX (Cedega) is if they don't own a copy of windows. If you do own a copy of windows do not use wineX for pete's sake, just dual boot, it is the better emulator after all.
    Reply
  • jerrysiebe - Tuesday, October 05, 2004 - link

    For anisotropic filtering, I did a strings search in libGL and came up with something.

    >strings /usr/lib/libGL.so | grep ANISO
    __GL_LOG_MAX_ANISO

    Setting that, I can see a visible difference and get a FPS hit, so I believe it works. On my GF4 4200, I can set __GL_LOG_MAX_ANISO to 1, 2, and 4 and see the difference. Set to anything else I get no anisotropic filtering.
    Reply
  • Thetargos - Monday, October 04, 2004 - link

    Excellent article, just a comment on the NVIDIA uninstaller... it plainly doesn't work as it should. The prlblem is that it substitutes (like the ATi driver) some libraries in the system, but unlike ATi's driver, NVIDIA's driver also makes a change in one library used for the Direct Redering Infrastructure, libdri.a specifically. So uninstalling the drivers with NVIDIA's uninstaller this won't be reverted (re-install of the XFree86 package or Xorg package is required, note only the core package is need).
    In favor of ATi's driver, the uninstallation is much easier and the system is restored to its previous stage, restoring the backup copy of libGL.so.1.2 that is the only system library it overwrites.
    Reply
  • plamalice - Monday, October 04, 2004 - link

    The Nvidia AGPgart driver is causing problems with ATI cards (perhaps other non-nVidia card as well) on both Win and Linux when used on an nForce based mobo (of course). Nforce3 (150, pro150) have both caused me problems when using an ATI card until the gart driver was uninstalled.

    A poor attempt by nVidia to make ATI card appear unstable ? :P

    Anyways, if you have an nForce-based motherboard and an ATI gfx card, do not use nvidia's gart driver.
    Reply
  • KristopherKubicki - Monday, October 04, 2004 - link

    directedition: i just symlink /mnt/cdrom to /media/dvdrecorder

    Kristopher
    Reply
  • mczak - Monday, October 04, 2004 - link

    "Keep in mind that we even run SuSE, a RPM derivative - not too different from Red Hat."
    That really doesn't make sense. RPM is just the package manager! If a dos version which uses rpm would exist, would you say that it is "not too different" too?

    "Below, you can see a screen grab from our ATI frame buffer playing Unreal Tournament at 800x600. The image should not be surrounded by a black border, but rather, stretched to the limits of the screen."
    This looks to me like you did not have configured 800x600 resolution in the Xfree config file (Sax2 will happily do that) - you cannot switch to fullscreen resolutions not configured usually with XFree/Xorg (though maybe the nvidia driver doesn't care).

    btw about aniso not working: I guess you could do that quite easily with framegetter? Just intercept the filter setting calls and replace them?
    Reply
  • mczak - Monday, October 04, 2004 - link

    "On our MSI nForce3 board, this should have been the nvidia_agp module. However, try as we could, we could not get nvidia_agp and fglrx to play well with each other."
    This is a mistake, you do not need (and it will not work) the nvidia-agp module. For all A64 based boards, no matter if the chipset is from sis, via, nvidia or someone else, you need the amd64-agp module instead. It might have just worked with that - suse 9.1 loads it automatically for K8T800 chipset, but I think for some reason it doesn't get automatically loaded for nforce3 chipsets. It might have just worked loading it manually, saving you some time :-).

    "We are not entirely sure why, but even after completely removing the NVIDIA kernel module, we still had persistent errors installing the ATI drivers correctly."
    Removing the kernel module will do nothing. Nvidia drivers replace some of XFree/Xorg libraries, which are incompatible (I think libglx.a is affected by that, but there might be more), and ATI does not have its own version of these files. Uninstalling the nvidia driver with its own installer (which has an uninstall option) should get the original version back in place afaik.
    Reply

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