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Well, don't get me wrong, but that's one of those "ask 100 different people, get 100 different answers" questions. As long as we are talking After Effects or other Adobe products, the most important considerations are:
Q: Does the card provide enough video RAM to run on large monitors/ dual monitors without loosing any acceleration functions?
A: Yes, if it has 512 MB or more, it ius usually safe to say that it even will run perfect on dual 24" screens or very large 32" single screens.
Q: Which applications use acceleration and what kind of acceleration?
A: AE --> interface, 3D compositions, MediaCore (footage handling) some effects, Encoding MPEG with Adobe Media Encoder; Encore --> Preview window, transcoding; Premiere --> interface drawing, MediaCore, Clip viewers, some effects; Photoshop --> 3D (to a very minor exctent), video layers.
Q: How does it affect my choice of graphics card and what features do they use?
A: All of them use primarily custom pixel shader magic, so to answer your question: more pipelines (ALUs) = more joy. The use of vast amounts of video RAM (beyond drawing the UI) would only have relevance for AE if you are working with many large layers in OpenGL mode or Photoshop with massive 3D objects.
The rest is pretty much of no consequence. A lot of those functions are not perfectly realtime, so overclocked processors will go unnoticed. Memory transfer speed might be a minor concern, but that's mainly relevant for AE's 3D to load and unload the "textures" and Photoshop. However, unless you are doing this all the time, you will never notice it, either.
Most current consumer cards support Adobe products well enough to make it a "safe" buy, so unless you are running other, more resource hungry apps that may need a special environment and optimized drivers you should be happy. The only warning I can give is to be wary with any GeForce 8800 models, as they are prone to problems. The ATI card you are eyeing sounds reasonably powerful, so it should work.
thanks a lot! your informations are very useful for me...you help me to take a decision....
Nice post, Mylenium. You should mark or sticky this thread for others to easily find or post on a board that supports those features. Very cool.
(John David Hutton)