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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Here is a surprising finding that I made.


I have been using Video Cards from ATI and Nvidia for years (no to mention companies like 3dfx and Matrox back in the day). The last few years I have stuck with ATI cards in my HTPCs primarily because the consensus was that they are superior to Nvidia cards for HTPC use.


For the last year or more I have been using an ATI 4850. All-in-all it is a good card with an excellent feature set. That said, I have often felt like an ATI beta tester as ATI has struggled to get things working. I have stuck with ATI through the following issues that I can recall: not working/randomly working hardware video acceleration, not working HDMI Audio, Video levels change depending on the driver version (sometimes expanded, sometimes partially expanded, sometimes something else entirely), not/partially working deinterlacing, 24p stuttering and ever changing settings that just don't take (how many times have do I have to set "RGB Limited before it actually sticks?).


Recently, my 4850 developed a weird issue. Is it driver related? Who knows? Often when I change refresh rates, I would lose the signal over HDMI. Sometimes it would return. Sometimes not. I am using Windows 7, and I don't know if that has something to do with it. I wouldn't be surprised if it did.


So, yesterday, I took a chance and went out and bought an Nvidia 9600GT. I knew very little about this card before hand but it had the virtue of being in stock and on the shelf at Best Buy. This is a low profile/low power card with a HDMI connector built right it. It requires no additional power connector.


I am extremely pleased with how it is working!


Installation was very easy Windows 7 installed a driver automatically but I installed the latest version from Nvidia's Website. For audio, I use an Asus HDAV Deluxe card, which has HDMI video passthrough. This introduced no issues.


On paper, the ATI cards are superior because the ATI cards have a much better audio implementation over HDMI and I suppose that for many HTPC users, this is a deciding factor. In practice, the Nvidia card does a much better job than the ATI, at least in Windows 7, because Nvidia's driver set seems to be much, much better for the HTPC user.


After using the control panel to set all my settings, I used the AVS test pattern disk to check for any errors that were introduced. With ATI's Catalysts, I am always expecting weird things to crop up, particularly with respect to video levels. I was actually surprised that no issues were present. Depending on whether my display was set for expanded or standard HDMI levels, I would appropriately see btb and wtw bars in test patterns. Perfect! Also, the 1080p mode is pixel perfect out of the box. ATI's drivers always had some overscan enabled by default. I didn't need to touch the setting. I have to break out my i1Pro to verify this, but I don't think that Nvidia's default settings are playing with the colors. Good! I used some patterns to test deinterlacing and the results are also very good.


After making sure that all of my basic settings were as they should be, I fired up Arcsoft TMT and ran through some clips. Overall PQ appears to be just as good as it was with ATI card. This is really as it should be. The 23p setting works as advertised (something ATI provides but apparently does not even support) in producing judder free pans in bluray material. I still have some testing to do of deinterlacing but what I have seen so farlooks pretty good.


What a good experience so far!


I don't know how bad or good Nvidia's drivers have been in the past. I do know that if I someone is buying a video card TODAY for use in a HTPC, Nvidia's drivers are much better than ATI's. This 9600GT card combined with my Xonar HDAV card is really a great solution.
 

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+1. I have 2 9600GTs - one low power - working beautifully with my regular HDAVs. Tried ATI 4670 for a while but I can't stand ATI drivers.


(If it existed) A low power 9600gt with native HDMI multi channel LPCM would be an ideal HTPC card indeed.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by HDGT /forum/post/16933806


The upcoming retail version of 40nm Geforce GT 220 GPU(48 Stream Processors) desktop card has an audio processor in the GPU itself and 8 channel LPCM support like the Geforce 9300/9400/Ion chipset.

http://www.nvidia.com/object/product...gt_220_us.html

Yes, but that card looks like a "9500GT+" to me. They should do like ATI and release something like a 4670 or 4770. The HD 4670 would definitely be IMO the perfect HTPC card, but like I said, I've grown sick of ATI drivers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tulli /forum/post/16934095


. . . but like I said, I've grown sick of ATI drivers.

This is ATI's problem. Their feature sets are fine. They just need to get it all working as it should.
 

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I never need to do system image backup with Nvidia drivers. Standard install procedure always works (uninstall, old driver cleanup, new driver install). With ATI I've had to edit the registry more than once, and even reformat. I recently inexplicably ran into weird issues even installing 9.6 on my 4670 HTPC. Install process was completely stalled, I had to abort it. After different trials I had no choice but to restore system image. OTH Cat 9.7 works fine so far.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tulli /forum/post/16934162


I never need to do system image backup with Nvidia drivers. Standard install procedure always works (uninstall, old driver cleanup, new driver install). ...

Tulli;


How do you do this?

TIA!

____

Axel
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Axel /forum/post/16934995


Tulli;


How do you do this?

TIA!

____

Axel

I use drivercleaner , booting in safe mode.
 

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I currently have both an ATI 4850 and Nvidi 9800gt card. And I have to say that BD playback has been good -to- excellent on both. However, I do gaming and the 9800gt runs WoW at almost 2x the framerates I can push through the ATI card. And you're entirely correct - I've been upgrading back and forth between ATI and Nvida for about 2 years now and they do keep leapfrogging each other in terms of feature/function support and the settings interfaces (ccc -vs- Nvidia control panel). My feeling is that for the last year, Nvidia has been superior in the drivers/support category as well as performance for a multi-purpose HTPC (gaming+movies). Especially the last release of Nvidia control center has clarified and re-categorized all the property settings and made it much easier to get around in. Plus, the settings seem to properly stick now between reboots.
 

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Used to be nVidia all the way, but ever since the 4xxx series came out from ATI, I went with them for gaming AND HTPC-ing....never looked back.
 

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ATI's software engineers are idiots, Catalyst 9.7's giant leap backward in usability has proven that conclusively if nothing else. But we have no choice until Nvidia releases competitive video cards with full audio over HDMI. When they do, I'm dumping ATI faster than a live hand grenade.
 

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Yup, I built an ati chipset based htpc from spare parts and got a 4830 figuring it would be more compatible being from the same manufacturer and going by what seems like so many people testifying to the better picture quality on ATI cards. Holy crap did I have problems from the very beginning. Installing windows took 2 hours because of some strange and documented conflict between the 4830's High Definition Audio and the chipset, but the cpu was pegged at 100% for the entire install of windows, only fixable once windows was loaded and I could disable High Defenition Audio in Device Manager.


After that was solved, I had to get HA working for my mkv library because the old athlon I had couldn't do it alone. Every bit of that process was hit or miss and turrned out only about 1/4 of my movies would work with HA on the ati card. But using my main system with the Nvidia 8800gts I was able to get HA working on all of my movies just simply by using MPCVideoDec, wasn't a big deal.


I finally got tired of trying and bought a cheap 9500gt for the htpc, registered the mpc decoder and called it a day. Everything worked. Sold the 4830 to a friend.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by Favelle /forum/post/16939183


Used to be nVidia all the way, but ever since the 4xxx series came out from ATI, I went with them for gaming AND HTPC-ing....never looked back.


So, you don't mind having to recheck your video levels after every reboot to make sure that they haven't changed and then upgrade your Catalysts only to discover that no matter what video level setting you use, nothing adheres to any standard? This is only one issue.


I guess I got used to running through a checklist every time I wanted to watch a movie, but it sure is nice not having to anymore. With the Nvidia drivers, everything just works!


No Catalyst revision ever did everything properly simultaneously so I always looked forward to next month's version, which inevitably just shifted around those things that worked and didn't work.


I have no idea how Nvidia is for gaming because I don't do much PC gaming anymore so this can be a factor for people.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by PanamaMike /forum/post/16942253


Have an integrated 9300 on my Asus board, tried out the ATI 4670. I find the ATI to provide better color and better overall processing. I found the Nvidia to crush blacks.

To be fair, you're comparing a low-end, integrated GPU to a mid-range, dedicated GPU.


I'd bet money that my Nvidia GTX 260 outperforms your ATI card by a good bit (certainly no black crush here). Of course you'd expect it to, costing more than twice as much.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by PanamaMike /forum/post/16942253


Have an integrated 9300 on my Asus board, tried out the ATI 4670. I find the ATI to provide better color and better overall processing. I found the Nvidia to crush blacks.


Mike

Color is identical, at least when compared to my ATI 4850. This is measured with my i1 pro and I trust it is accurate.


If you are seeing black crush, my guess is you need to break out some test patterns and calibrate your display to a proper brightness level. Yours would not be the first display that did not have its brightness level properly set.
 
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