Video Cards for New Workstation- AMD (ATI) HD 2900XT vs. NVidia 8800GTS

I’ve been rethinking what video card to put in the new workstation that I’m going to build this fall. Since this machine will also be something that I want good high-end 3d on (for high end WPF work, games, Flight Simulator, etc) I want a step up from the NVidia 8600GTS that I put in the media center box (which I’m using as a workstation in the short term).

My initial thought was to go with the NVidia 8800GTS (640MB version). Many of the reviews say the 320MB version is just fine and the extra memory is unnecessary, but I run on a Dell 30″ monitor at 2560×1600 pixels so I’m going to opt for the extra memory.

The 640MB NVidia cards run about $360, but at right about the same benchmark scores and price (about $380) is the top of the line AMD (ATI) Radeon HD 2900XT. Most of the write ups score the two cards just about equal head-to-head.

But the balance might tip to the Radeon because the Intel chip-sets (the current P35, and the X38 that I hope to get) only support the AMD “Crossfire” dual-card option and don’t work with NVidia “SLI”. Its pretty ironic that the Intel chips are likely going to tip me towards an AMD video card, but there you have it. I’m not planning on buying two cards right away, but it gives me the option to get a second one a year down the road (although by that time there will probably be a new generation of cards and I’d be better off just replacing it with a single new card).

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