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GeForce GTX 285 VS ATI Radeon HD 3870

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Dan Nethery
GeForce GTX 285 VS ATI Radeon HD 3870
on Aug 28, 2009 at 8:08:01 pm

Which one to buy.. I have a machine that I need to upgrade the graphics card. I have been an ATI Man for a long time. Any suggestions. I'm not to worried about the price... If a quadro would make FCP render faster then I would buy one of those.

Thanx for any feed back.


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Erik Lindahl
Re: GeForce GTX 285 VS ATI Radeon HD 3870
on Aug 29, 2009 at 11:27:45 am

So far the Geforce GTX 285 has been a bit unreliable in performance (some apps not even working correctly). If the software ticks where sorted it would be THE choice hands down.

xlr8yourmac.com did note that for instance "The Sims 3" now works on the card. It's just a game but still something that uses the GPU a lot. I also heard Maya has some issues but I think there where work-a-rounds to that.

In the end I think neither will make a HUGE difference in FCP. I might be wrong in this but I've yet to see a high dependency on the GPU there. Motion however is very picky on the GPU. I've also noticed considerable speed-increases in Color moving from a Radeon 2600 HD to a 4870.

Erik Lindahl
Freecloud Communication
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walter biscardi
Re: GeForce GTX 285 VS ATI Radeon HD 3870
on Aug 29, 2009 at 12:49:52 pm

ATI makes Color run much much faster.

Right now the GPU has not much of anything to do with FCP that I'm aware of. It's all Color and Motion right now, though the Snow Leopard ads keep pointing to the GPUs handing more of the load from the processors.

I put the ATI 4870 in our new Mac Pro and it just smokes Color. In an older model Mac Pro Octo 3.2 I removed the "then top of the line" nVidia 8800 card and replaced it with the stock ATI 2600 card and saw a huge improvement in Color.

Not sure why ATI is so good, but they just are in my experience.

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Erik Lindahl
Re: GeForce GTX 285 VS ATI Radeon HD 3870
on Aug 31, 2009 at 10:20:16 pm

I think Color is still very optimized for ATI's card. Back in the day when ATI was the only GPU developer for Mac Final Touch came and only ran on G5s with the highest end ATI card available. It seems this story continues. Certain features still are ATI only… Can't find the quote now but the official site for instance states "Renders at 8-bit, 10-bit, and 32-bit floating point (dependent on GPU)".

On the flip side nVidia's Geforce FX-series card was first to support 4096x4096 size comps in Motion. I'm not even sure all cards today support up to that (which can be a huge limitation sometimes).

Looking ahead the idea of OpenCL is however that less and less specific optimizations should be made for card or platform A or B. Still we will have performance differences as we do in for instance games today (i.e. one card has a weaker driver and certain effects are much slower on this card because of this).

Erik Lindahl
Freecloud Communication
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