Disaster struck… my GeForce 8800GTS seems to have broken down. I started up a game of Shattered Horizon, and almost as soon as the game loaded, the display became garbled (I wasn’t even playing yet, I was still in the menu). Windows tried to reset the video driver, but that failed and the whole system locked up. When I rebooted, the display was still garbled, even during POST. Windows didn’t even seem to detect the card anymore, because it dropped to standard VGA mode.
The only other PCI-e videocard I have is a GeForce 7600GT, so that’s what I put in now. The system works again, but the card is completely useless. It’s not fast enough to play the games I regularly play, even at very low settings. And for software development it’s pretty useless aswell. I no longer have DX10 support, no Cuda, no PhysX, no Compute Shaders, no OpenCL… nothing.
Originally my plan was to wait for DX11 hardware. Well, technically the 8800GTS served that goal… Problem is, I didn’t buy any DX11 card yet, because currently we only have AMD’s offerings. I wanted to wait for nVidia to see what they come up with. I did the same back with the 8800GTS. I waited for the Radeon HD2900, and then picked the best option.
So I had three options:
- Continue using the 7600GT until nVidia releases their hardware, and then get a proper card.
- Buy an AMD DX11 card now.
- Buy another nVidia DX10 card now.
After a few minutes of gaming, it became clear that 1) wasn’t really an option. It could take months until nVidia’s hardware is finally on the shelves (especially since I generally don’t buy the high-end models, but the ‘sweet spot’ models below that, such as the 8800GTS, 80% of the performance for 50% of the price, that sort of thing). So I had the dilemma of getting another nVidia card, and still have the Cuda, PhysX and OpenCL support, but still missing out on DX11… or getting the Radeon and giving up on Cuda, PhysX, and settling for relatively poor OpenCL support for now.
I decided to go for a cheap model, still a reasonable upgrade from the 8800GTS, but not so expensive that I would regret buying it, should nVidia’s next generation be a huge leap forward.
In the end, I went with a Radeon 5770… For practical reasons partly… It’s a smaller card, and it uses less power and is less noisy. The 8800GTS barely fit in my case, so a GTX260 might not fit at all, and I might have to relocate my harddisks or whatever. Hopefully the 5770 will just fit. In terms of Cuda, PhysX and OpenCL… I mainly used Cuda because there weren’t any alternatives. I wanted to go with OpenCL or DirectCompute when they became viable alternatives, because I didn’t want to write nVidia-only code. AMD offers DirectCompute, and with CS5.0 too… and their OpenCL is in beta stage now… hopefully it will get there. nVidia already had very nice OpenCL support… bit of a shame, but I’ll live.
PhysX, well, that’s a bigger shame. I’ve been a fan of the technology for a long time. However, I only own one game that actually uses it. Sadly I can’t use accelerated PhysX for my own development on the Radeon… but it wasn’t something I was really planning on short notice. If nVidia gets their next generation right, I will have an nVidia card with DX11 and PhysX soon anyway. The Radeon is only temporary, so I can continue developing my DX11 stuff, and play the odd game.
I just hope it won’t take too long, the Radeons are all in backorder. Who knows, it might take so long that nVidia’s DX11 cards will be available 🙂
A twist of irony though, it is because of my GeForce breaking down that I’m now buying a Radeon. Had the GeForce lasted until the next nVidia cards were out, I might not have bought another Radeon for years.