I think most Second Life residents have some interest in graphic cards for their computer. I see and hear of people with various graphics problems in #SL. Problems are related to various cards and driver versions. There are so many variables it is hard to know which card would be a good one to upgrade to. Tuesday morning I saw that KirstenLee had published information on which cards were doing well with S21 viewer.
Check out: Kirstens GPU Awards 2011 !
There are other sources of good information on video cards. Only Kirsten’s is specifically targeted at Second Life. Others are more about the geeky pure performance factors. If you are interested in knowing the muscle a card has, check these sources;
Tom’s Hardware – This site reviews computer hardware. There are sections on the individual components, like graphics cards. For those that need single slot cards (space limited) see: Single-Slot Graphics: Whose Card Is Fastest? Most high performance graphics cards plug into one slot but are so thick they use up two slots. For the best overall see: Best Graphics Cards For The Money: May 2011. Of course this article will become out dated. So, check down the left side of the home page for the latest reviews.
On shear performance Tom’s is showing the nVidia GTX 590 (US$450-$550) and ATI Radeon HD 6990 (US$800) as the top video cards.
AnandTech – This site reviews computer hardware too. They also have sections on the various components. The benchmark stuff is here. This benchmark section of the site is more for comparing cards than a review.
Reviews for Second Life
There are few hardcore reviews for Second Life like Tom’s and Anand’s do for video cards and other games. Second Life has dependencies on so many things and such a huge varity of viewer settings it makes it hard to do a good analytical comparison.
The best I’ve been able to find is to use the analytical reviews at sites like Tom’s and Anand’s, then visit the forum and search for the card you are considering. If people like it or it is giving people problems, it will be discussed in the SL Forum or SLUniverse Forum. Search on the card name and model.
Nvidia and ATI are the leading video card makers. Other brands are usually based on nVidia and ATI chips. So, there are really only two brand choices.
In SL Windows users tend to use nVidia. Apple people tend to have ATI. Linux users have no discernible preference. Until recently the nVidia card was better for SL and presented fewer problems. Recent nVidia drivers have been a problem, but it very much depends on the card and driver combination. So, no easy answers. Anyone thinking of an upgrade needs to do some homework. Kirsten’s GPU Awards directly related to SL are a big help.