Friday, December 14, 2007

The Way It's Meant to be Played

Among computer gamers and 3d-application aficionados, the question of which video card to buy is not as much a question as which manufacturer to go with. The primary two video graphics producers are ATI and Nvidia. Having owned both brands of video cards, it is hard for me to say which is better. Because their differences are so slight, the question you'd ask is, which logo do I like better? Although that is just in humor, both cards do have their differences. One company focuses on one aspect like the number of pipelines, whereas the other company focuses on the bits of the card - 256bit, 512bit, and so-on-and-so-forth.

I am not going to tell you which card is better, because new video cards are always being released - almost every week. But I will tell you my experience with one card I am quite happy with.

Earlier on another post, I talked about the Nvidia 7600 GT I bought. Well, I won't talk about how great of a deal it was, or all the features it has, because frankly, I already did. Instead, I will tell you about how great this card has performed while in Windows, as well as in Linux.

The card works in Windows. That is obvious. The drivers are great, Oblivion is pretty, Half-Life 2 is extremely fast. But in Linux is where I have grown a deeper respect for the card, as well as for Linux overall. Ubuntu has a new system of supporting non-free drivers if the user should so choose to. Well, I figured, shoot, I want 3d-graphics, I'll support Nvidia's non-open-source driver. It was two clicks and a reboot for me to have a 3d-desktop working perfectly in Ubuntu 7.10.

However, I did not know that I would get all the goodies that the Windows driver package has as well. For those of you who like the Nvidia settings, this will mean something to you. When you enable the Nvidia non-free drivers in Ubuntu, the 3d-settings are enabled, but also a tool from Nvidia is now able to be used. Before you use this tool, I would suggest you install something else, for your benefit. I suggest you install the Sysinfo tool. To install it, simply type this in the console:

sudo apt-get install sysinfo

Then open the tool by typing sysinfo, or selecting from the menu, Applications -> System Tools -> Sysinfo

This tool alone is the equivalent to many system info tools that would cost you $20 or more for the same functionality in Windows. You'll see an Nvidia button on the left-hand side of this application.

When you click the button, You'll see an Nvidia settings tool open. Within this tool you have many options, like anti-aliasing, Digital Vibrance to change the color-intensity, and so on.

If you did not want to install sysinfo, you can still access the Nvidia tool by typing in the terminal "nvidia-settings".

For any of the settings you specify within this tool, you will want those settings to automatically load at startup. To do this, go to System -> Preferences -> Sessions

Click on the "Startup Programs" tab, and then click on "Add". Type whatever you want for the name, but for the command type in "nvidia-settings -l" and it will load the settings without launching the nvidia-settings application.