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Old 18th January 2009
DrJ DrJ is offline
ISO Quartermaster
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Gold Country, CA
Posts: 507

If you want identical computers, and one will be used for any significant gaming, you will *need* a discrete video card. The on-board chips are fine for routine work, but are terrible for gaming. FWIW, "gaming" does not include solitaire.

There is no binary ATI driver because ATI did not provide one for FreeBSD. nVidia did. That's why there is only one binary blob, and why it does not run on the 64 bit FreeBSD flavor. Don't hold your breath on getting a 64 bit nVidia driver any time soon. I understand that the open-source ATI driver is getting better (ATI is providing good support, but it takes time), but still does not have accelerated 3D. On FreeBSD you probably won't need it unless you too want to run some Linux games (or Windows games under Wine).

Oh, and the "nv" driver is written by the xorg people, and is open source (and without much help from nVidia). It does work, but it is much more limited than "nvidia."

On passive versus actively-cooled video cards, you have to decide how much quiet or silent computer operation is important to you. There are lots of good after-market coolers that are active and essentially silent. I'd suggest that you get the card you want, paying attention to reports of fan noise, and if it is too loud, get an after-market cooler. The passive ones work fine for less powerful cards, up to about the nVidia 9600, but the more powerful ones are hard to cool passively. You then have to pay a lot of attention to how well the case breathes, and how the air courses through your computer (and keep an eye on video temperatures when you debug the thing).

How much are you spending, anyway? Are you overclocking or not?
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