Matrox and ATI

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Matrox and ATI

Postposted on Sun Jun 08, 2003 8:39 am

I'm sending myself to an early grave researching video cards and I'm hoping that someone can help me make a decision. My requirements are:

1. I need as perfect 2d text as is possible. I run my 21" monitor @ either 1600x1200 or 1920x1440.

2. I intend fairly shortly to install a TV capture card in my machine (Leadtek WinFast TV2000 XP). This card requires a pretty good graphics card with DirectX 8.1 support.

I've tested a Geforce2 GTS and a Geforce4 MX440 SDR, but they're both pretty horrible (the GF4 being the worst of the two). I have used a millenium card in the past and I know it has great 2d performance and sharpness, but I'm not sure how it will handle with the TV card.

I've read a few reviews about the ATI Radeon 9000 that mentions that this card (or any of the Radeon cards) has very good 2d sharpness.

Of the two cards, I know that the Radeon will perform better than a Matrox G550 (for example) with the TV card, but I have no experience with this card, so I don't know how it *really* performs, especially with 2d sharpness, which is very important to me.

Someone please help me sooth my troubled soul!
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Postposted on Sun Jun 08, 2003 9:35 am

Are you sure the TV card needs a good graphics processor? I wasn't aware that they particularly needed a fast graphics card, as the card won't actually have to do any rendering--it'll just have to display whatever the TV card sends it.

In terms of being able to use the TV card, I think either option will be good for you. The 9000 Pro will give you much better gaming perf. than a G550 if you ever decide to game on it, and its 3D quality is high, too, but probably not quite so high as Matrox, at least not the Parhelia.

In your situation I would probably go with the 9000 Pro.
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Postposted on Sun Jun 08, 2003 5:29 pm

I don't think you need a good graphics card to have a T.V card. Well thats with my case, I don't consider and i810 good.

Go for the Radeon if you every want to game. Go for the G550 if you want T.V and 2D sharpness. :)
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Postposted on Sun Jun 08, 2003 5:57 pm

I reccomend a new P650, or P750 if you are into triplehead. They are the G550 replacements. They will give you dual head overlay, better DVDMax (Using up to 1600x1200 and allowing DVDMax output). It isn't as fast as a 9000Pro but the 2D output will be better at those resolutions. And if you need DX8.1, P650 will be the Matrox card for you because G550 is DX6.1
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Postposted on Sun Jun 08, 2003 5:59 pm

DVDMax is, if you didn't know, a Matrox feature allowing you to run windowed video (any video, not restricted to DVD) on your primary, and fullscreening it to the second monitor (or TV for that matter).
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Postposted on Sun Jun 08, 2003 6:50 pm

Thanks for the feedback. No, I don't need a gaming PC. In the 10 years I've owned PCs, I've played about 2 games :) Nor do I have multiple monitors.

I was actually close to buying a G550, but then I thought that the TV playback when using this TV card would be jerky (on high resolutions), so I started looking for an alternative that was known to have a sharp 2d image.

If the picture quality with the TV card is good with the G550, then it might be wise to go for this as I already know the 2d quality is great. However, if the 2d sharpness is indistinguishable on the Radeon 9000 (or similar) card, then it would be better to go for that because the card itself is more powerful, an who knows how I might like to use it in the future.

The Matrox p650 are way out of my price range. The G550 can be bought here (in Sydney) for about $AU100 and the R9000 for about $AU150. This is the price range I'm looking at.
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Postposted on Sun Jun 08, 2003 6:56 pm

bsdgeek, re DirectX, I thought it was the G400 that had 6.1. I've looked around the net and found several mentions of G550 DirectX8.1. I've also found several pages talking about DirectX8.1 working with G550. There is also mention of this on the matrox support FAQ site.
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Postposted on Sun Jun 08, 2003 7:55 pm

Typically, what you need for a TV tuner program is a video card that's supported by a certain DirectX version (like 8.1) but that doesn't mean that the hardware has to support that version's hardware requirements (i.e., hardware shaders or whatever). You can install DX9 with a Radeon 9000, and it's not a DX9 part, so it won't use all the DX9-class features, but it'll WORK with DX9. For example.

2D video (with some exceptions in DX9) doesn't get processed by the GPU, so it doesn't matter if all the DX stuff is implemented in hardware. However, the program that the TV tuner uses might require a certain DirectX version because it was written to use that version, so you might hafta have that version installed, though that doesn't mean the video card needs to support all the hardware that makes the card truly "compliant" for that version.

So it doesn't really matter if the G550 is a DX6 or a DX8.1-compliant card as long as you can install DX8.1 and have it recognize and work with the G550 (which it should do).

Hell, I had an ATI Rage 128 and the newest available drivers required DX8, and you KNOW that's not a DX8 part. It's just the software that the drivers were coded for, so it's what was required.

In short... a TV tuner requires that DX version installed on your computer, but not a video card of that DX class. So you could get a Rage 128 or a TNT2 or a G400 if you wanted, install DX8.1, and it should work. Probably.
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Postposted on Sun Jun 08, 2003 8:44 pm

How fast is your CPU? The TV card will probably rely more on that than the graphics card.

The G550 would probably be the best choice in your case, as it does offer better 2D than the 9000Pro at your resolutions, and it's cheaper.
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Postposted on Sun Jun 08, 2003 10:31 pm

I have an Athlon 2000+, plenty of grunt for TV processing I would have thought.

I'm wondering why the TV2000 specs require both DirectX 8.1 as well as a "DirectX 8.1 compliant graphics card" considering what danazar says. Sounds like the TV2000 bypasses any installed DirectX software and tries talking to the card itself in DirectX lingo. This can't be the case though since the leadtek site recommends to "install the latest version of DirectX..."

Anyway, if no one else has any comments on that, thanks very much guys. Looks like it'll be the Matrox card!
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Postposted on Sun Jun 08, 2003 10:53 pm

Compliant = doesn't horribly b0rk-b0rk when you install that version of DirectX.


DirectX 6.1 = basic triangle setup and rasterization, the most fundamental parts of 3D.

DirectX 7.0 = fixed function transform and lighting. GeForce 1 has this.

DirectX 8.0 = Pixel Shaders 1.1 and Vertex Shaders 1.1, IIRC, GF3+

DirectX 8.1 = Pixel Shaders 1.4 and Vertex Shaders 1.1, Radeon 8500+

DirectX 9.0 = Pixel Shaders 2.0 and Vertex Shaders 2.0, 9500+


A G550 is a DirectX 6.1 part with PORTIONS of a fixed-function transform and lighting pipeline, for HEADCASTING!!.... It's more like DirectX 6.5 than anything, but it's far from a DirectX 8 chip, it's just COMPLIANT.

Radeon 8500, for example, accelerates all of DirectX8.1 and below in hardware, and it's DirectX 9 *compliant*, which means it can let the software renderer do any DX9-specific stuff, if the game/app allows it.

As for TV viewing.... The only things that are even sort of relevant:

A good PCI bus. Intel preferred, AMD/Nvidia/SiS acceptable, Via/ALi no-go. It'll probably WORK on any of them, but probably not well.

A good overlay. My TNT2 had great overlay support. It's basically a really simple path for something to dump video straight to the DACs, without involving CPU processing, or tons of memory copies.

Any halfway decent non-integrated card with over 16MB of video RAM or so ought to be able to toss up a 1280x1024 or 1600x1200 video overlay. If you are getting jumpiness or stuttering when you full screen a video at 1600x1200, then the card is probably out of ram for the overlay to use, and it's falling back to simple blitting or even full-software video.

Getting even a bottom of the line 32MB or 64MB card will allow overlays at higher resolutions. Yesterday I created a 2560*1024 overlay surface on my 9800 128MB.... Possibly the first thing I've done where a 128MB card outperforms a 64MB one. :) :) For 1600x1200, at 32bit color and at 85Hz or 100Hz refresh (flickering at high res is often your monitor's refresh rate crapping out, you need 60Hz to have it halfway watchable, and many people still get headaches off of video on a 60Hz CRT... You want at least 75 or 85Hz for a truly smooth picture).


In other words, that Radeon 9000 will be overkill if all you want is 2D and video. Getting good 2D sharpness is a bit harder to judge for you. You'll generally want to avoid the cheapest cards, as the board makers will cut down component quality first thing, when they're looking to have the cheapest card out there. If a Radeon 9000 is exactly what you want, try to get a Built By ATI (BBA, ATI brand) card, as they are fairly strict on card quality. Buying a Powercolor, for example, is 2D quality suicide. Those cards are really cheap, and it shows.
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Postposted on Fri Aug 22, 2003 3:57 pm

FWIW my G550 does just fine with DerectX 9.1 installed.

Ofcourse I don't game so...

:wink:
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Postposted on Fri Aug 22, 2003 4:03 pm

WebHobbit wrote:FWIW my G550 does just fine with DerectX 9.1 installed.

Well... newer DirectX versions are backward compatible with older hardware in the sense that they will install, and will run older games just fine. The additional features of the later DirectX versions (e.g. pixel shaders) are simply disabled if the hardware doesn't support them.

Ofcourse I don't game so...

:wink:

Well, that is the key... you could probably be running DirectX 3 and you wouldn't notice the difference. :wink:
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Postposted on Fri Aug 22, 2003 4:08 pm

I dunno....I think DirectX has some hooks into audio and possibly DVD playback as well so I might notice a difference.
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