Graphics card recommendation - 2010

Hi all,

I am looking into buy a new graphics card (and computer) which would be very much used for developing and running virtual reality applications, using Panda 3D. Apart from the usual needs, it would be important for me to be able to use more than one display simultaneously (on the order of 2 to 4 displays - e.g. 1-2 computer screens AND 1-2 LCD projectors).

I would appreciate recommendations on kind of card it would make sense to buy. I have found some earlier recommendations on the forums, but the most recent is one year ago and I guess there have been advances; also it did not address the issue of several displays.

Thanks in advance

I’m going to recommend an nvidia card. They have excellent OpenGL support, and I’ve found that nvidia cards work very well with Panda3D, in contrast to ATI and Intel cards.

As for the specifics on which model is a good card for your purposes, I’m not sure. I lost track of it around the GeForce 9 series. :slight_smile:

The most economic buy is probably something around NVidia Geforce 9600GT. Those are strong enough for all modern games and pretty cheap compared to the newer ones. For all newer NV cards i feel like rdb… i also lost the overview. If your purpose is more demanding than the card offers you, how about linking two together?

Speaking about other card vendors like AMD/ATI or Intel I have no idea, sorry. NVidia has just better drivers support for Linux, that’s why I’m a fanboy of them.

Thanks for the input so far.

What about the NVIDIA Quadro NVS series? I know they are not designed specifically for gaming, but they enables 4 displays in parallel, and seem to me decently powerful. Would there be a disatvantage for gaming/VR applications in using these?

I dont think so, but i believe its better to buy geForce card(s) in same range.

Considering multi output, depends on how you want to use it.
At one point with my old computer i had 4 monitors, 2 on integrated GPU and 2 on pciexpress graphics card, and it worked fine for non 3d realtime rendering.
My guess is that you are going to render your 3D application on one monitor and one projector (For example with geforce 9600 GT) and if you are going to use other monitor and projector to render text, web, and similar stuff, integrated gpu will work fine with that.

Other point of view is to buy a bit more powerfull video cards, i have nvidia 250 gts, and i can play any game that is currently out on everything maxed.
And thing is that my 250 gts isnt “real” 200 series card, its just rebranded 9800 gtx+ or something.

But if you have money for projectors, you could spend that few extra bucks and buy 260gtx.
Especially if you are in country where hardware prices are low (in my country they are 50+ percent higher than in US)

Also, you should pay extra attention to projectors as they are very sensitive piece of equipment, cheaper ones usually cant work longer than couple of hours at once. Even more expensive ones are turned off to cool down a bit.

Same card I have and I’m completely happy with it. Hardcore gamers poo-poo the card as a rebranded 9800 gtx, but that’s not completely accurate. There is a 1G ram version of the card, and more important to me, smaller die=much lower power requirements. If you plan to do any Linux work, nVidia is the way to go.

I disagree with you guys, ATI is the way to go. Especially the 58xx series. There’s a huge open space you can go after buying it. Also I’d like to point 2 things:
Don’t buy a 57xx; whilst it’s cheap, the performance boost of the 5850 over any from the 57xx series is enormous. And when you think about it, then it’s not so much money.

Also, I don’t recommend it because of the DX11!

And at last, don’t worry about the drivers. If you’re using windows it’s ok. Also ATI’s linux support is better now.

I’m not only talking about ATI’s Linux drivers, but about the amount of hacks and workarounds we have in the Panda source just so that Panda runs on ATI cards.

For instance, we had to disable hardware PCF for shadows because various ATI drivers had problems in its OpenGL implementation.

Whatever boy, whatever…

Oh, thing about why i said my, i have 512mb version and that is old gpu its not new 200 series.
There was some official article which showed difference.

+1 for ati 58x
Maybe when fermi arrives the tables will turn again, but if we are talking about the cards available now,
ati 58x have been in a league of their own for several months, it’s a no contest. Faster, cheaper (price to performance), supporting standards that matter (DX11, openGL 4 soon).

On a side note, Nvidia should really stop trying to push proprietary standards like PhysX, and start embracing open standards like AMD/Ati does. With technologies like OpenCL and Bullet, there is really no need for CUDA and PhysX, it just makes the PC gaming scene a more complex/difficult market to develop for/distribute to.

P.S: I am not an Ati fanboy, I have actually owned several of both Ati and Nvidia cards.

Thanks for all the input! This is very helpful.

Since I need this card for a large-scale research project using VR and not for home use, saving money is not my primary concern and I much rather focus on maximizing performance. The most important thing is fast reaction time and precise timing (so that the VR scene is updated in synch with the user interface, which is built from optical computer mice, with a time jitter of about 1-2 milliseconds or less). My VR environment will probably be graphically less detailed (and thus computationally “lighter”) than what is used in many modern games, but precision will be important.

Also, it is important for me to have the option of multiple displays.

Given this info, which combination of graphics card and computer would you go for?

Also, what do you think of the NVIDIA Quadro series?