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Review: ATI vs. NVIDIA on Linux - the showdown

by Jo Shields on 16 April 2009, 08:58

Tags: HD 4870 1GB PCS+, GeForce GTX 260 OC, PowerColor (6150.TWO), Inno3D, PC

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qartb

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System Setup and Notes

Graphics Cards Inno3D GeForce GTX 260 OC 896 MB PowerColor HD 4870 1GB PCS+
Current pricing, including VAT £199.99 £172.49
Stream processors 216 800
GPU clock speed (MHz) 620 800
Shader clock speed (MHz) 1,242 800
Memory clock speed (MHz) 2,100 3,700
Memory bus width (Bits) 448 256
CPU Intel Core i7 920 LGA1366 (2.8 GHz, 8MB L3 cache, quad-core plus hyperthreading)
Motherboard Gigabyte GA-EX58-UD5 (X58+ICH10R)
Motherboard BIOS F5
Memory 6GB Kingston ValueRAM (3 x 2GB) DDR3-1,066
Memory timings and speed 7-7-7-20 1T @ DDR3-1,066
PSU Zalman ZM850-HP
Monitor Dell 27in 2709W - 1,920x1,200px
Disk drive(s) Samsung 1TB F1
Graphics driver NVIDIA 180.37 Catalyst 9.4 pre-release (8.600)
Operating system Ubuntu Linux 8.10 AMD64


3D Benchmarks Enemy Territory: Quake Wars v1.5, HEXUS custom-recorded benchmark. OpenGL - very high quality
Unigine Tropics Demo 1.1, high-detail presets
Unigine Sanctuary Demo 2.1, high-detail presets
Lightsmark 2008
Video Benchmarks Mplayer SVN r29053 (default compiler optimizations)
A Scanner Darkly (HD VC-1 playback sample)
Dawn of the Dead (HD H.264 playback sample)


The price gap between these cards is pretty big - partly because the pre-clocked Inno3D card - which is pre-overclocked, however - is so expensive. Other 216-core GTX 260 cards with different clock speeds may be up to about £50 cheaper.

Compiz (3D desktop effects) was disabled completely for testing, to ensure possible interference between desktop 3D and app 3D didn't occur. I also disabled CPU frequency scaling, and locked the CPU at its stock top speed (2.8GHz)

Installing a driver - clicky easy

For those wanting to use these newer drivers easily on their Ubuntu 8.10 systems, they should try adding the line "deb http://ppa.launchpad.net/directhex/ppa/ubuntu intrepid main" under System/Administration/Software Sources/Third Party Software. You may need to manually install the package nvidia-180-modaliases for the 180.xx driver to be offered to you.