Stable OpenGL card for Development?

I am looking for an OpenGL card that is stable under adverse conditions; specifically when an OpenGL program in development crashes repeatedly to a debugger, which is then halted and restarted without proper shutdown of the program under test.

My Matrox G400 is not cutting it under these conditions in Windows 2000. If I crash my program, sometimes I must restart the computer or else any further OpenGL program will cause the driver (ICD) to crash repeatably.


As many folks on this board will attest to, the development card of choice is an nVidia GeForce2-based card. Based on the amount you are willing to spend, look at:

  1. GeForce2 MX
  2. GeForce2 GTS
  3. GeForce2 Ultra
  4. Quaddro 2 Pro

Option 1 is the least expensive, while option 4 is the most expensive (but offers hardware accelerated line antialiasing and other neat features). If you are willing to continue using the G400 for a bit longer, GeForce3 will be available in retail outlets, and my reccomendation swings to that card without hesitation.

Why GeForce? I, like many other folks on this board, spend time developing OpenGL code than can cause egregious errors at times, and having a card that is capable of handling those errors and weathering the storm is essential to efficiency. Some cards simply don’t provide the kind of stability that an A-rev nVidia driver thread does.

I was skeptical of nVidia for a long while; especially coming from Wildcat and FireGL-based cards. I have since seen the light. Simply put, nVidia provides some of the best OpenGL development solutions on the market. Period.



Thanks for the reply. The only problem that I can see is that nVidia has a poor reputation for 2D quality (or perhaps that is simply certain board manufacturers). This is important to me because I use a 21" monitor at 1600x1200 with small fonts (90 dpi?).

I will seriously consider a Geforce 2 GTS since they are down to $132.

Well, I’m a 1280x1024 man myself, so I can’t testify to the quality of the 2D quality in the range you are looking at.

Most retail vendors don’t stray too far from the reference boards, which IIRC have DAC speeds around 300mhz on the GTS cards. DAC speed is more relational to the resolutions that can be attained at 85+ hz resolution; and I’m not sure if a direct correlation can be drawn between higher DAC speeds and quality at 16x12 or greater resolution. More margining should be “A Good Thing”, but I’ve never toyed with that aspect of the GF2 cards.


Argh! GeForce 2 does not do EMBM?

Unfortunately, I dont think anyone can quite match the 2D quality of Matrox (maybe a GeForce 3 can, but I’ve never seen one or heard anyone compare its 2D quality, so I wouldn’t know). I wouldnt say my GeForce’s 2D is poor (its actually quite good), but its not quite king of the hill.

And no, GeForce doesnt support EMBM…it supports a lot of other things, but not that. If you have cash to spare, a GeForce 3 will support more features than anything else out there.

As for quality, yes I can comfirm that nvidia cards/drivers under Windows 2000 are rock solid. I had a lot of problems under 98 where (as you said) after crashing or being terminated by the debugger several times, resources would begin to disappear and the openGL driver would eventually fail to initialize. After switching to Win2000, I havent had a single problem of that sort. I have used various 6.* and 7.* drivers, and am now using the 11.01 drivers, all with no problems.

[This message has been edited by LordKronos (edited 04-14-2001).]

> DAC speed is more relational to the resolutions that can be attained at 85+ hz resolution


You can stick a Porsche engine in a Yugo, but it will still be a Yugo.

In this case, the “Yugo” might be the board layout (especially analog section) of the screen card, and the connectors/cable going from your machine to the monitor. Analog design is hard, and while any geek can pull it off at 100 MHz (well, almost any geek :slight_smile: 300 MHz is another matter. Using a tool which routes your traces wrong, or not building the appropriate ground planes, not properly managing clock jitter, or using (cheaper) below-spec connectors are favourite ways of screwing up high-resolution display cards, even though the DAC may be a good part in itself.

I’ve used Matrox cards, and while they were pretty good in 2D, the driver, compatibility and performance issues just made them not workable in the end. Meanwhile, my Elsa GF2 GTS has enough to drive an analog flat panel at 1280x1024, which only needs 75 Hz to stay flicker free. What I’m waiting for in the next card is digital out, and 1600x1024 support.

Umm… what’s this soapbox, and why am I standing on it?

Hmmm… Wasn’t there kind of such discussion for audio amplifiers?

Originally posted by LordKronos:
I had a lot of problems under 98 where (as you said) after crashing or being terminated by the debugger several times, resources would begin to disappear and the openGL driver would eventually fail to initialize.

This problem has been fixed in newer drivers. I can’t remember the exact version where it was fixed, but it is fixed (to the extent that is possible given the OS’s brokenness; it’s not our fault they don’t give us a process detach!).

Win9x is still far less stable than NT, but that has a whole lot more to do with the OS than with the drivers.

  • Matt

It probably is not the best, but I love my Radeon…the dev relations arn’t perfect, but decent, and I have not had any problems developing on it.

Geforce 2 gts 2d for 2d is good enough.
I run my monitor at 1600 x 1200 @ 85hz no probs.

Its not the speend that kills geforce cards on 3d. its when you get to1920 x 11400
at true col and the 32 meg of mem will not allow much more than a single on
screen buffer.

OGL stability under any card is normaly pretty good.

I sugest that you look seriosly at more pressing development issues.
- a fast card lest you code, without having to optimise (its normaly best to get code working then optimise it)
- support of extensions that you wish to use
- developer relations support (nvida is very good here)
- open gl conformance test results
- multiple moniter debugging (there is a dual head gf mx out now)
- Quality of drivers (lack of bugs)

under all the GeForce stuff shines a good choice for real time development if you
cant afford a SGI. (and who can)

>let me spell corect my 3rd line

ts not the speed that kills geforce cards on 2d. its when you get to1920 x 11400

duckman, which manufacturer?

I am considering an MX for $79-85 shipped from That way I could replace the card at any time (even the next day) with a reasonably priced GeForce 3 or card-after-the-Geforce-3. The GTS for $132 is tempting, but $80 is low enough not to have to play the eternal wait-for-a-lower-computer-component-price game. I could also talk myself into “correcting” the RLC filters on an $80 card.

Also does anyone have info about setting up remote debugging to another computer? (Visual C++) Since I have tons of extra computer components, including an extra 19" monitor, I could keep the compiler, the matrox, and 21" on one system while having the program run remotely on another.

It would be nice to have a truly stable OpenGL driver. I remember under Win98 that my G400 would literally eat WM_DESTROY messages (the generic Microsoft OpenGL driver did not). This was one of many reasons for moving to Windows 2000 (which was relatively painless and entirely worthwhile).

Enough of my rambling Time for sleep.

[This message has been edited by Nocturnal (edited 04-15-2001).]

Originally posted by duckman:
[b]>let me spell corect my 3rd line

ts not the speed that kills geforce cards on 2d. its when you get to1920 x 11400[/b]

Well, you still missed your “1920x11400” error. I doubt any card is going to let you have even a single buffer at that size, given that it would need about 83.5MB per buffer

And you also introduced a new spelling error… “Its” turned into “ts”

[This message has been edited by LordKronos (edited 04-15-2001).]

Ye L.K. I make many typos and spelling errors.
I ment 1920 x 1440 which is 19mb of mem
(try to find any one sentance i have written that does not contain a spelling error)

any way Ive never bothered with network debuging. But I might sugest this
there is a 32mb geforce 2 mx card out there that has support for two monitors.
And it cost about 5 dollars more than an ordinary mx card.

I think
has twin view information (if you like asus cards)

problem is that the memory is shared between the tho displays…


It’s very easy to do remote debugging, far easier than I would have thought. I do virtually all of my OpenGL driver debugging using remote debugging. (It falls apart once you have to enter the kernel…)

Install MSVC6 (I’m assuming version 6) on both computers.

Run msvcmon.exe on the slave computer (i.e. your test system). Configure msvcmon.exe to know the name of the master computer.

Go to Build/Debugger Remote Connection on the master computer, select Network, do Settings and type in the name of the other computer.

Under Project/Settings, Debug tab, there are four blanks to fill in. The following is the general idea:

\ est-machine\c\blah.exe (executable)
\ est-machine\c\ (working directory)
-xyz (command line arguments)
c:\blah.exe (remote filename)

You may need to fill in some Additional DLL’s in some cases.

  • Matt

Well Ok since were on about graaphics cards…
Has any one got a recomondation for a graphics card to use as a second display adapter.

ie do the thing where you have 2 video cards in the machiene…
My first card is a GF2 GTS and I want the second card to be PCI based and non detrimental to the systems performance.
ie no #$%@ drivers that stuff up all the time.

of course not all cards work well when set up as a secondy video adaptper.

What cards hyave people had sucsess with…?

Originally posted by duckman:
What cards hyave people had sucsess with…?

At work I use a Quadro Pro as my primary and a PCI Voodoo 4 as my secondary under Win 2000. No problems so far.

Hope this helps.

Under Win98, using 2 video cards dropped you into software OpenGL. Is this fixed in Win2K somehow (by MS or video card makers)?

How about the PCI Geforce 2 MX cards? Do they show any significant speed drops?

Also, has any company fixed the problem of dropping to software OpenGL with a dual-monitor-port card with different resolutions on each monitor? As far as I am aware, only Matrox allows different resolutions in Win2000 at the present time.

I am beginning to think that setting up a second computer for debugging will rapidly become expensive since my current second computer is a P2 266 without an AGP slot.

[This message has been edited by Nocturnal (edited 04-16-2001).]

The RadeON is rock stable on my 2k system.
And it’s image quality can be compared to the Matrox one.
If you need dual monitor, just get a RadeON VE

[This message has been edited by paddy (edited 04-16-2001).]