Nvidia, ATI, and PhysX

Shaggy

Vice Admiral
I'm working on pulling together the money for a new game rig and got to wondering about video cards.

Right now I've got an ASUS Nvidia 6600 card and I thought about sticking with Nvidia cards for my future machine. One driving reason is that Nvidia cards have the PhysX extensions built into the cards, so if you have two or three cards lined up in SLI you can setup one card as a dedicated PhysX card or share the load between cards.

So the question is: Can you still get the PhysX effects in an ATI chipset?

I ask because from what I've been seeing reviews is that ATI cards are just as powerful, if not moreso, than comparable Nvidia cards but they are also less expensive. So anywhere I can save some cash on this machine would be really helpful.
 

t.c.cgi

Vice Admiral
I think I've seen maybe three games that use PhysX. I'd say get whatever is the best upgrade for you for the price.
 

Madman

Vice Admiral
no, PhysX is an nvidia brand - as a result of them buying ageia several years back. You can use a geforece8 as a solely physx card along with an ati graphics card - but the driver issues more than outweigh the benefits!

It's ironic that ati are faster and cheaper than nvidia (at least in this last 2 generations). Basically, as long as you get a good card - at least the middle if not the top line model from a generation you'll be okay. frankly though, getting a geforce 280 is cheaper than the latest generation and will only be slower in the most over the top games when running at silly resolutions!
 

Jason_Ryock

Vice Admiral
I've had two ATI cards blow out on me (Both had chips actually pop on the board itself), and only one Nvidia that finally succumbed to what I think were heat related issues (It's worth noting that the card still functions, with the occasional blue screens of deaths). So I'm rather partial to Nvidia because of the better durability of the cards.
 

Kilrathikiller

Rear Admiral
There are many games that use physx now and yes it is now only for nvidia. There are at least 50 games that have it now. So you either need to have a physx card(which most part is useless now), or a nvidia Video card from the 8 series and on. Personally I like Nvidia better because their SLI is way better then crossfire plus the physx is a nice feature as well. Also like Jason_Ryock said, I have had many problems with ATI cards in the past and my nvidia cards seem to last alot longer.

Also the reason I say the physx card is useless now is because if you have a Geforce card with physx then just use that. You would think having a separate card would make things run better but it doesn't. So the actual physx card is still useful if you have anything before 8 series or an ATI card but you might as well just get a cheap NVidia card that has physx instead.
 

Worf

Vice Admiral
You cannot use a nVidia card for PhysX while using the ATI for graphics. nVidia stopped that a little while back and it's not only not supported, the driver will not work if the graphics output is not on the nVidia card.

Even better though is I have a real PhysX card. Trying to keep that working is a PITA as the nVidia drivers make no clue whether or not it's using the hardware or trying to steal from the GPU. You have to install a specific set of PhysX drivers to get hardware support, and even then it's ambiguous to what is doing the physics.
 

Madman

Vice Admiral
Hadnt realised nvidia had stopped you doing that - damn them!

I've often pondered buying an ageia card, but it sounds like it's definitely more hassle than it's worth!
 

Shaggy

Vice Admiral
If I can't get PhysX to run with ATI at all, then I guess I'll wind up with Nvidia. If I don't have PhysX then I can't get games, like Bionic Commando Rearmed, to run at all. My brother is in IT at a computer training office and he hasn't had much luck with ATI cards holding up either.

Well, thanks everybody, I think I've got the answers I need.
 

Jason_Ryock

Vice Admiral
If I can't get PhysX to run with ATI at all, then I guess I'll wind up with Nvidia. If I don't have PhysX then I can't get games, like Bionic Commando Rearmed, to run at all. My brother is in IT at a computer training office and he hasn't had much luck with ATI cards holding up either.

Well, thanks everybody, I think I've got the answers I need.

That's the funny thing - one of the ATI cards we had let go after 7 months....of work processing. It wasn't even being used to do anything more then spreadsheets and accounting.
 

scheherazade

Rear Admiral
I currently run a 5970 and an 8800gtx in my system

ATI for video, and nVidia for cuda and physx (with non-ati-lockout nvidia drivers).

To be honest, physx is pretty unimpressive. Developers limit it to particle effects, and cloths. The usage is minimal when it's even there.
You basically have to go out of your way to find something that even has it.

I don't even play any games right now that use it (sc2, bfbc2, codmw1/codmw2).



Currently, ATI has better temperatures. Which should matter if you get a high end card, because it WILL heat your room.
ATI also gets you more FPS per dollar spent.
However, ATI crossfire driver support really sucks compared to nvidia sli driver support.
I ran SLI previously and everything 'just worked'. With ATI, even major titles will be broken from driver to driver (i.e. 10.6 would crash bfbc2 on startup).

-scheherazade
 

Worf

Vice Admiral
The only reason PhysX works better with the hardware is because nVidia purposely coded PhysX to be very wasteful. It uses x87 floating point instructions, which Intel has stated since the Pentium 4 to not use for performance. Instead, floating point should be done using SSE3, which any computer able to play a game needing PhysX will have.

http://techreport.com/discussions.x/19216

Obviously, nVidia does it on purpose to make PhysX look better by making non-PhysX code look really bad. It's like that old "Killer NIC" that supposedly gave you so much for, for a $200 network card.
 

t.c.cgi

Vice Admiral
To be honest, physx is pretty unimpressive. Developers limit it to particle effects, and cloths. The usage is minimal when it's even there.

I like games that have the option to disable physics simulations. Why? Because they all look terrible and end up with half the corpses stuck clipping in the ground or spazzing in the air like an invisible big red dog is thrashing it. Perhaps the funniest physics bugs I've seen are in Fallout 3.
 
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