ATI Radeon 9250 vs Nvidia 5200
First, here is my system (relevent specs only):
- HP Pavilion 514n
- 2.2 Ghz Celeron Processor
- 1 GB RAM
- Internal Intel 845GL chipset
- 3 PCI expansion slots
- 17 inch ViewSonic VA800 monitor
- Operating system is Windows XP (or in another bootable partition, Fedora Core Linux)
Without further modification the 845GL chipset handles all the video for the system as well as performing a number of other tasks, supposedly simultaneously.
Last year about this time (late November) I decided to upgrade the video. My local Circuit City installed an ATI Radeon 9250 for me. It was great. I could get higher resolutions than what was available from the 845GL alone (I prefer to work with a 1280x1024 screen). Scrolling down long pages while browsing the Internet was quick and snappy. And I could play or try out games I could not even run before.
But two weeks ago the ATI card stopped working. The video went all haywire. And, for whatever reason, the PC refused to install ATI drivers, new or old.
I'm a physically disabled person. Packing up the PC and hauling it back to Circuit City or Best Buy myself is not an option (visiting out of town relatives helped me haul the PC off to Circuit City for last year's upgrade). So I called one of those we-come-to-your-house-to-fix-your-PC outfits. It cost me $129 to have the PC's video returned to reliance on the 845GL chipset ($30 for the home visit, $99 for a portion of an hour's work). The technician also could not get any ATI drivers to load. He said it was a common and well-known problem.
After some discussion the technician recommended an Nvidia card. He estimated a new card would cost $150 to $200. He would also have to charge me another $129 for coming to the house and installing the new card. An estimated total of $279 to $329.
I ended up not doing more business with that outfit. But did take the advice of acquiring an Nvidia card. After checking out Circuit City's and Best Buy's websites it turned out the only Nvidia card I could find which would work with my HP's old-style PCI slots was an Nvidia Geforce 5200. Which I acquired at my local Best Buy for $82.
Unfortunately, this card is clearly inferior to my previous ATI card. Since the Nvidia is older technology, I installed the newest drivers. I also used the Windows XP Device Manager to disable the HP's built-in Intel graphics controller.
The Nvidia card seems to work ok for ordinary screen reading stuff (like wordprocessing or internet browsing), though pages scroll down in an annoying wavy manner; not at all like with the ATI card. It does give me a good 1280 x 1024 resolution. But there are problems:
- The Windows Device Manager clearly lists the card, but says the card will not start.
- Long pages viewed on the Internet scroll up or down in a slow, wavy manner.
- The Nvidia Control Panel is nowhere to be found.
- Games I was able to play with the ATI card (Diablo II, Civilization IV, and Age of Empires III Demo) will not run. One reports the 256 MB card has no RAM.
And the three manufacturers involved are absolutely no help.
Nvidia allows you to submit questions, but makes it clear on its website it will only answer those it deems worthy of their attention. When and if they feel like it.
Even if you register with HP so you can send them an e-mail they repeatedly loose your information, forget who you are, ask you again to register, and ask you if you want information about a totally different computer model. I could not get their online chat service to work with either Firefox or IE7.
And PNY.com, distributors of the 5200, provide no means to submit questions. All three eagerly offer up totally useless FAQs which don't go near my problems.
I don't know about you, but I won't be buying any more Nvidia cards or systems containing Nvidia cards. I do plan to buy a new PC with my expected March income tax return. But it won't be an HP and it will likely contain an ATI video card.