well, quality will depend on what you need. Hardware is still not at par with software rendering but it will eventually get there and will probably be the choice for most people.
you can currently get some very great renders from hardware.
I will post side by side renders of software and hardware.
hardware currently supports the following.
Polygons and NURBS geometry
Multiple textured channels
Point, Directional, Spot, and Ambient Light types
Any number of lights
Per-vertex and per-pixel shading effects
Multi-pass and multi-sampling anti-aliasing
File textures for any supported channel
On-the-fly procedural and shading network conversions
RBG color, alpha matte (mask), and Z depth output
Command line rendering
Render diagnostics. Warnings for unsupported primitives, shaders, and light types and light features are provided.