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Spivey
12-01-03, 08:37 AM
Well I'm replacing my ATI Radeon 8500 TODAY and after it was pointed out the FX 5900nu was a much better buy as of the date of this post I will not get a FX 5700 (although a very fine card). The last string that I started was a FX 5700u vs Radeon 9600XT - FX 5900nu bests them both considerably - the forum discussion led to a Radeon 9800np compared to the FX 5900nu... and for the average Mid-Range cost of $200.00 US (give or take a few points) as a firm budget.

The only place I have seen the Radeon 9800np offered for "about" 200 dollars was at Ciruit City and it is not available to purchase online so we're looking at plus your tax - about $216.00 (maybe a HL2 voucher!), I have no idea if there are Circuit City chains in Europe. The FX 5900nu remains available for less than $200.00 shipped (yeah, online buy) for the retail package by various manuracturers.

Has anyone else found Radeon 9800np's for $200 -firm? I want to limit any possibly oversight before I make a buy since my last purchase of the highly recommended (at the time) Radeon 8500 which turned out to be a very poor choice. I will look again but if anyone has a link they can post comparing the 9800np vs the 5900nu in benchmarks I would appreciate it very much. I expect the Radeon would best the 5900nu but there are still things to be considered.

1. Game title compatability. Will I have to switch between different Catalyst driver sets to be able to play NVIDIA optimized games to get them to play correctly? My current 8500 will not play Rainbow Six games, Ghost Recon, BF1942, Everquest (framerates compared to a GeForce 2!) and a few other titles properly or AT ALL.

2. Are there revisions of Radeon 9800np to avoid?

3. Radeon cpu's are supposedly held back by thier onboard ram. Are there oems that are better to go with for a higher quality/speed ram and what's the impact there (the card Circuit City offers is a built by ATI)?


I expect I'll add more to that list later as they come to mind. I could possibly cough up another $21.00 but I'm not convinced yet it's worth it, I can get a quality brand retail FX 5900nu for $195.00 shipped. This is a has become a real headache for me but I'm realy wanting to make the best choice.

I realize this is an NVIDIA forum and consumer favoritism could lean to NVIDIA for recommendation however I have noticed most of you here who prefer NVIDIA cards acknowledge the weaknesses of current NVIDIA accelerators and the strengths of ATI, most if not all ATI "fan forums" will not conceed any NVIDIA strengths or ATI shortcomings -thats why I'm here... so what-say-you?

saturnotaku
12-01-03, 09:25 AM
If you're so concerned about compatibility, just buy the 5900. Circuit City as far as I know is not an international chain so you won't be able to buy a 9800NP for that kind of money.

I've owned 9800 and 5900 cards and I can tell you for a fact that the 9800 is the better product. It has better compatibility with the games I personally play. I can even run old titles like GLQuake and Oni at full resolution without any problems on my ATI cards, which is more than I can say for any recent NVIDIA product. Not to say that the 5900 is useless in my other games because it was quite good. But I do play these other titles a lot and the fact that Oni wouldn't run at all on my 5900 made me sell it right away and go back to ATI.

Honestly, you cannot judge ATI by the 8500. I tried one out and it was a piece of garbage through and through. But the R3xx line is fantastic. Unfortunately, if you're looking to spend $200 or less, you're not going to be able to find a 9800 in that range if you're a European resident. Aside from that one problem I described above regarding the 5900, it's a great buy for the money.

Edit: But from your location, you live in Maine. There has to be a Circuit City in Portland, Bangor or any of the other "large" cities in the state. Make the trip and buy the 9800. You'll be happier with it believe me. Ask anyone here - I was one of the most hardcore nVidiots on these boards. Then I saw the light. ATI has come a long way since the 8500.

Spivey
12-01-03, 09:29 AM
I just called every Ciruit City within my zip code area to check the availability of this Radeon 9800np deal and out of the 3 stores one had One left for 199.00. I had it held for me untill the end of the day and I'll probably go get it, just a 25 mile drive, I'm still going to look at some benchmark scores if I can find a comparison

The Baron
12-01-03, 09:36 AM
Originally posted by saturnotaku
ATI has come a long way since the 8500.
I can't decide if this represents how far they've come or how far they were behind. I dunno. I want the Catalyst team to relax with the driver releases and ensure stability with *every* release before putting it out, not releasing it and then a hotfix and then another hotfix a week later. Just make the beta testing public if you want to do that. They desperately need to slow down the cycle--12 driver releases a year is insane. Just doesn't make any sense.

Nobody at all has been able to give any reason to release drivers so often. So... if somebody can, please do. It comes down to this--newer drivers do not equal better drivers. People always assume that it does, and that's the cause of an enormous number of problems.

sxotty
12-01-03, 10:41 AM
Are you sure it is a 9800np and not a 9800np se, or some other crappy variant? If it is a regular np it is a really good deal at 200.00 better than 5900nu

Spivey
12-01-03, 10:50 AM
Yuk, have a look at this page from a Catalyst 3.9 review http://www.firingsquad.com/hardware/catalyst_3.9/page2.asp.

This does not encourage me to buy an ATI product. Do the new NVIDIA cards have several game/driver problems like this? I haven't heard many (I don't play Oni) so please post those you know of or have experienced here if that will be permitted. Anyone who lives in the south Maine area around Portland may want to post here if you think you may want the last Radeon 9800np for $200.00 from Circuit City in our area (not sure how large the membership base is for nvnews - lol) since I may go 5900nu after all and they're holding it for me. Going to do some more reading.

*sxotty - http://www.circuitcity.com/detail.jsp?b=g&oid=80847&bookmark=bookmark_6&catoid=-10266&com.broadvision.session.new=Yes&qp=0&BV_UseBVCookie=No

saturnotaku
12-01-03, 11:08 AM
From what I've read, Call of Duty problems have been endemic to all types of hardware. This is really surprising since it's merely the Quake 3 engine. Of course, maybe I shouldn't be surprised that a third party developer would screw up such a great engine. I had no problems with the CoD demo on my system with either the 5900 or 9600XT so I can't comment on those or any of the other games mentioned.

There is a hotfix that allegedly fixes the CoD problems (read the thread about the Catalyst 3.10 drivers in the Other Video Cards section for a download link).

And Baron, I do agree with you. This push to release 12 driver sets per year is a bit much. It likely will necessitate hotfixes. They should simply make the beta program public if they want to be so aggressive. We want quality, not quantity.

cthellis
12-01-03, 11:20 AM
Originally posted by The Baron
Nobody at all has been able to give any reason to release drivers so often. So... if somebody can, please do. It comes down to this--newer drivers do not equal better drivers. People always assume that it does, and that's the cause of an enormous number of problems.

Newer drivers also do not equal worse drivers. If drivers are as solid with one-month releases as they are with two-month releases, is there any reason to NOT release them so often? Performance can increase more often, features can be added more often, game fixes come without as much delay...

Certainly links can be made TO faster releasing affecting overall quality, but it's not a certainty and it can be made better. And offhand I'm not sure how 3.9 compares to 3.8, to 3.7, to 3.6, etc. as far as overall quality goes. If they're all relatively in line, then it's not so much "worse" and "more random" or morphic because of the increase in frequency. Do bugs popping up out of nowhere more often outweigh the bugs getting fixed faster? <shrugs>

Originally posted by Spivey
Do the new NVIDIA cards have several game/driver problems like this?

All drivers from all IHV's have issues. Doing an overall comparison is hard--and weighing them to your particular gaming habits is something only YOU can do. Peruse through the nVidia driver forum on here and you can get a sampling. Check out "bug fix" notes on each of the driver updates and you'll get an idea as to what was previously buggy. And keep in mind that plenty of issues you read about for anyone's drivers are non-universal, and you may happen to never get the ones people complain about despite using the same card in the same games.

I'm not saying you shouldn't read up or ask around, but I think at this point--unless one is contemplating unproven sources such as XGI--one shouldn't worry about it too much. I think one's personal luck (augmented by how technically savvy one is, and how they go about finding help) will affect the final result more than anything else at this point.

If you're wanting to buy the game and MAKE SURE your performance in one particular game or a limited swath of activities plays to the best degree let us know--those can be determined more easily. But for overall gaming experience now and for the next few years...? Chances are you'll be just fine for the vast majority, and get the occasional issue at some point or another no matter which IHV you go with.

Spivey
12-01-03, 11:39 AM
Terrific responses so far and nothing I could disagree with. I've been looking at GeForce FX 5900 ULTRA cards benchmarked against both the Radeon 9800 Pro and NP and the FX 5900 U bests the R 9800np all around and is on par with the 9800 Pro so often or better its just a decision of a small drop in IQ for a 5900. IQ can improve for NVIDIA cards to some extent with a new driver release also unless I am mistaken additionaly I am under the imprssion the 5900 ultra only differs from the NU by the added 128Mb Ram so please please correct me if that is wrong and an inaccurate comparisson to base a judgement on.
I'm buying a XFX NVIDIAŽ Geforce FX 5900 128MB DDR 8X AGP - Model# PV-T35K-NA - Retail from Newegg within the hour for $189.00.:dance: before I start to look like this guy --> :retard:

TheTaz
12-01-03, 11:46 AM
Originally posted by sxotty
Are you sure it is a 9800np and not a 9800np se, or some other crappy variant? If it is a regular np it is a really good deal at 200.00 better than 5900nu

Yes, the Cicuit City deal is the REAL 9800 Non-Pro.... not an SE. ;)

Regards,

Taz

cthellis
12-01-03, 12:02 PM
It's inaccurate in that the 5900 non-Ultra is clocked lower than the Ultra (usually 400 compared to 450 core) and RAM speed as well (usually 800 compared to 850), not just that there is less RAM. Both the clock and the speed of the RAM will depend on the vendor though, so it's something you have to keep an eye on.

NU's can ususally be overclocked up to U speeds, however the same applies to the 9800 non-Pros plus a bit more, as I believe there's the ability to soft-mod them closer to the Pros anyway, and then do the usual overclocking on top of that. (Not to mention if you're into overclocking at all, you can eventually invest a bit more and pick up this fine device (http://www.nordichardware.com/reviews/cooling/2003/VGASilencer/) to not only make impressive performance gains, but lower your noise level as well. Not something you can fit on the two-slot 5900's short of being REALLY comfortable with manhandling your card.)

Offhand, I'd go the 9800np's way in general, if we're just talking straight performance and even pricing. Considering you may be able to play stores on each other and get HL2 as WELL...! :D Makes it much more brainless to go that route. (Just would take a bit more effort.)

On your compatability concerns... <shrugs> Only you can weigh how much that means to you in the broad scheme of things.

saturnotaku
12-01-03, 12:46 PM
Originally posted by cthellis
I believe there's the ability to soft-mod them closer to the Pros anyway, and then do the usual overclocking on top of that.

Only 9800NP cards with Samsung memory can be BIOS flashed to Pros. The ones on sale at Circuit City come with Infineon memory that isn't as good. Stock 9800 Pro speeds are 378 core/337 memory. You can easily get that core speed by overclocking those built by ATI cards. But you'd be lucky to get 320 on the RAM. That's still not bad, considering you're saving $100 over a Pro.

But again, buy whatever you feel comfortable with. If you don't want the ATI card, no amount of convincing from us is going to stop you.

cthellis
12-01-03, 01:27 PM
True, soft-modding isn't universal--but it's cool that you can win a "mini-lottery" with it at times. ;) Regular overclocking will take you to the same approximate levels on both, though.

Offhand for "issues" I've just gotten too jaded on it and shrug it off. You're best off developing the ability to find/deal with it (since many issues are personally fixable, and 3rd-party drivers might solve particular issues, not to mention many times just flipping around drivers will bring temporary solutions) than worrying about how it will crop up, as you'll never find a logical pattern. If I had to go by personal experience with cards, offhand my 3dfxes were the ones that gave me the best experiences, and nVidia's notably poor in comparison. <shrugs> I had a friend constantly harping on problems with a 64MB Radeon DDR while another friend used a Radeon 7500 (basically a reconditioned/speed-bumped version of the same thing) in the same games without any issues. Said same friend with the 7500 moved to a GF4 MX440 due to problems he had in Asheron's Call 2, only to get the SAME problem with the GeForce when he first put it in. (Disappeared after more fudging and reinstalling--of Windows and the game--but he didn't bother checking back with the 7500 anyway nor returning the other card.) The only other problem he'd had with the 7500 was in Dark Age of Camelot, and on a whim I tested it on the GF4 as well. Sure enough, same problem popped up again.

Basically, it's too damn hard to figure out what REALLY happens and why. ^_^;; There aren't enough hours in the day. I just figure that 99% of what I do will work fine or have inconsequential quirks, and I doubt I'd ever be able to predict the critical flaws one way or another anyway, no matter who I went with.

saturnotaku
12-01-03, 01:32 PM
Originally posted by cthellis
Basically, it's too damn hard to figure out what REALLY happens and why.

I can give one big reason - lousy coding on the part of developers. I remember a time when devs put forth all their efforts into coding properly for the PC and as a result there were fewer showstopping bugs. But in today's world of rushed console ports and beta software released as final, I think this is a huge factor in the problems we see today.

vampireuk
12-01-03, 02:38 PM
Newer drivers also do not equal worse drivers. If drivers are as solid with one-month releases as they are with two-month releases, is there any reason to NOT release them so often?

The point is that they are not, as Tim pointed out with the hotfixes. I would rather have slower driver releases without the need for these fixes.

Ruined
12-01-03, 02:51 PM
Originally posted by saturnotaku
I've owned 9800 and 5900 cards and I can tell you for a fact that the 9800 is the better product. It has better compatibility with the games I personally play.

For me, it is the other way around. By far, the game I play the most on the computer is Anarchy Online. The last ATI driver revision that works properly with AO was 3.2! Meanwhile, all of the Nvidia FX driver releases from 44.03 up to the recent 53.03 work fine with AO.

In general, this post is worth looking at as well for those considering ATI, to see if the game you play works well with it or not:
http://www.rage3d.com/board/showthread.php?&threadid=33705231

Ninja Prime
12-01-03, 03:57 PM
Do you know what brand it is? I know mine is a Sapphire 9800 np and I BIOS flashed it, overclocked it, and now it's running at 405core 355mem and it's been that way for over a month with no problems.
As for drivers, I've played some 30+ games on it since I got it, and I haven't had any problems yet.

saturnotaku
12-01-03, 08:47 PM
Originally posted by Ninja Prime
Do you know what brand it is? I know mine is a Sapphire 9800 np and I BIOS flashed it, overclocked it, and now it's running at 405core 355mem and it's been that way for over a month with no problems.
As for drivers, I've played some 30+ games on it since I got it, and I haven't had any problems yet.

These are built by ATI cards, the ones that come in the cool-looking retail boxes. The cards themselves are probably built by Sapphire, just have the ATI name slapped on them. Your Sapphire I'm sure has the Samsung memory and not the crappy Inf(erior)ineon stuff that's on the current 9800NP line. Even if you managed to track down a Samsung card, you probably won't be paying the $200 that you do on these Circuit City cards.

Hellbinder
12-01-03, 09:22 PM
The Cat 3.9's were released early for some reason I cant tell (as i dont know). They were still being tested and Cat maker was on vacation.

I dont see the difference between releasing One official driver per month with an occasional Hot fix if necessary and releasing one driver every 4-6 months and leaking 10 drivers in the meantime. Everyone can still choose to use one of the many drivers available that works nest for them. Look at the next or even this Forceware release and see that people will have been made to wait months for simple or important game fixes. This is why one driver a month is a good thing. That is as long as you dont keep breaking stuff that was not broken in the last release.

Anyone who does not think there are Nvidia Driver problems needs to read the readme's released with Nvidia drivers. There are also known Compatability and performance issues in current games with the Nvidia dets. There will likely be issues to a greater degree going into the Future for any new game that Nvidia does not control the DEvelopment for. Even some of those are in Question.

There is no Doubt though that ATi seriously Choked in OpenGL with the Cat 3.9's. There is no excuse for it.

The Baron
12-01-03, 09:52 PM
HB, that's all well and good, but to this point, no one has explained to me why a driver a month is better than a driver every two months or every month and a half.

4-6 months is too much. I agree completely. However, I think 6-8 weeks is the definite Sweet Spot. It gives you plenty of time to work on driver improvements, beta test it, and then WHQL it (for the lamers who think it matters :) ), but it's not irregular enough so that games that come out between driver releases will suffer. I still think the 12 driver release thing a year is probably not something CM wanted and was probably influenced a great deal by PR.

And I'm not saying NVIDIA is perfect--I'm just saying that if ATI is going to release a driver a month, they might as well make the beta testing public. No beta team can adequately test drivers that fast. On the other hand, though, NVIDIA definitely needs to speed up its releases and probably implement a beta team like ATI's if only for the sake of appearance.

micronX
12-01-03, 10:01 PM
I got one of the Circuit City 9800's earlier tonight...I am so freakin' happy. The card does have 3.0ns Infinion ram on it, and I've got mine clocked at a moderate 380/310, I want this card to last me because deals like this dont come along everyday. My local store had only two left, and I nearly pissed myself when I actually left the store with it:)

lIqUID
12-01-03, 10:41 PM
Someone posted earlier that the clock speeds on 5900 NU was 400/800, thats incorrect. On cards like the XFX and eVGA the clock speeds are 400/850, these cards use the 2.2ns RAM. The 5900U has a clock of 450/850 which is very easliy attainable with a 5900 NON Ultra. Im sure almost all you knew this, just wanted to clarify.

cthellis
12-02-03, 05:59 AM
Originally posted by lIqUID
Someone posted earlier that the clock speeds on 5900 NU was 400/800, thats incorrect. On cards like the XFX and eVGA the clock speeds are 400/850, these cards use the 2.2ns RAM. The 5900U has a clock of 450/850 which is very easliy attainable with a 5900 NON Ultra. Im sure almost all you knew this, just wanted to clarify.

I posted exactly what NewEgg said concerning the XFX 5900. XFX itself (http://www.xfxforce.com/product_view.php?sku=PVT35KNA) doesn't mention specifics for that model--nor core speed--though they do mention it specifically for the 5900 Ultra (http://www.xfxforce.com/product_view.php?sku=PVT35FUC) as 450/850. Other sources have mentioned 400/800 on the non-Ultra as well, so offhand I imagine the card can take multiple forms. I can only comment on what they SAY, though. <shrugs>

Originally posted by vampireuk
The point is that they are not, as Tim pointed out with the hotfixes. I would rather have slower driver releases without the need for these fixes.

I'm not sure they ARE. Hotfixes come about when there's something simple enough to fix and perhaps critical enough to fix faster than waiting for the next driver set, not show extreme negligence. They can also take the form of officially-upheld patches, or numeruos beta leaks, or other alternatives as well. How exactly does a hotfix that stops hanging in Call of Duty differ from a beta driver that cures blue-screening in BF1942? <shrugs again> The only people keeping on top of them ANYWAY are those who like seeing fast action and change and don't mind hanging on top of releases and checking out new and experimental software anyway. I'm sorta curious just how many people never update past the drivers they get included with the cards they buy, or what comes with their computer. Probably scarily large... ^_^;;

Offhand, I can't think of a single driver from any IHV that's come down the pipe in memory that doesn't cause new errors while fixing old ones. How do they all compare to each other? Considering we rarely know the instance reports and severity of the issues, it's hard to EVER put them in full context. Meanwhile, we've all seen bugs come out of seemingly nowhere, stupid issues which certainly seem like they would have been easy to spot, long-hanging problems which receive a "fix" for a few drivers but never a cure, and all sorts of nifty things for a long stretch of time. None of THAT had to do with monthly releases either, and yet it happens.

Offhand, I haven't tried to do a comparison report between Catalysts stretching a whiles back to see if there are any patterns to spot--and no one else that I've noticed has either. Nor with Det's, nor with anything else. Not to any degree that would be required FOR analysis. Since thinking about it gives me a headache anyway, I'll pass. Heh...

Originally posted by The Baron
And I'm not saying NVIDIA is perfect--I'm just saying that if ATI is going to release a driver a month, they might as well make the beta testing public. No beta team can adequately test drivers that fast.

Obviously they aren't starting anew every time a Catalyst is released, but rolling out what has been worked on for a while and seems to be in release shape. What exactly is their process and how does it compare to the way they used to run? The way nVidia runs currently? <shrugs>

Offhand, the only thing I can say with assurance is "we get the same deal we always get from drivers, just more often." I cannot state with assurance just how driver releases compare to each other from the IHV's, and they rarely give us enough information for analysis. (And I'm sure they never WANT to, either.) Does the increase in frequency lead to an increase in flaws by a measurable ratio, or are we just getting the same quality drivers as ever more often? (Which one could claim is worse as well, because "the same quality" means they aren't improving as much over time as we want them to.) Offhand, all I know is that some people get fixes from drivers--beta or not--and some people get new bugs from drivers--beta or not, and that it'll likely shoot right by the rest of us unnoticed anyway. (For instance with AO, where none of my friends and I who play have gotten IHV-specific errors, but rather just errors in general, no matter a what time we were playing the game. ;) MMORPGs are always bad games to go by in general, IMHO, because they are rather huge coding nightmares all together.)

saturnotaku
12-02-03, 06:39 AM
Originally posted by cthellis
I'm not sure they ARE. Hotfixes come about when there's something simple enough to fix and perhaps critical enough to fix faster than waiting for the next driver set, not show extreme negligence. They can also take the form of officially-upheld patches, or numeruos beta leaks, or other alternatives as well. How exactly does a hotfix that stops hanging in Call of Duty differ from a beta driver that cures blue-screening in BF1942?

The way I see it - some of the issues that have cropped up lately in the Catalyst drivers should not have existed in the first place. The whole mess of people with AIW cards having problems is the biggest example. Are you going to tell me that there's not a single beta tester (internally at ATI or externally) that has an AIW card and could have seeen this? Stuff like that is inexcusable and reeks of a driver set that was rushed to get out the the door because of ATI's promises of uber-frequent driver updates.

The old retail adage certainly applies here - promise less, deliver more. Instead of promising monthly driver updates, fall back to a six- to eight-week schedule and then surprise us when a new set is ready ahead of of time. But the key word here is ready - no showstopping problems that require a hotfix to solve.

euan
12-02-03, 07:15 AM
The AIW problem wasn't a bug in the driver. It was a typo in the driver inf. A text file! The file was edited at the last minute as they always are. A silly mistake yes, something that is easy to do. Shame they didn't do a compare on it to check that nothing was missing, and only the new stuff was there.