PCIe graphics card that won't promote hair-tearing?

I keep meaning to upgrade from my prehistoric Thinkpad T500 but just never get round to it. Now I’ve got an option on a cheap second hand Xeon desktop, so I might finally take the plunge :astonished:

These machines don’t have onboard Intel graphics though, so I’ll need a graphics card. I’m not a particularly demanding user; definitely prefer things to Just Work rather than trying to wring the last 10 FPS out of my OpenGL settings or wherever that stuff happens. I suppose it’s possible I might play some Steam games or something at some point.

I’m on Ubuntu MATE 16.04. Budget is an issue - this whole machine is only worth a couple of hundred quid, tops.

So… any recommendations for something I can install and more-or-less forget about without having to prat around with too many drivers and settings?

Are you happy using proprietary drivers?

Like many people I’d prefer to use open source drivers. At least partly because the quality seems to be better. But I’m not an RMS-level zealot about it if there’s a well-understood and well-supported proprietary option.

I guess I’d really like a PCIe card with Intel graphics :slight_smile: But such a thing doesn’t seem to exist.

Yeah, I’m in the same boat. Unfortunately, you can’t seem to get Intel PCIe cards (as you say). On my desktop, I was pragmatic (sellout) and have an nVidia card. If you don’t care about gaming then the open source drivers are okay. But I like to play games, so I use the official drivers. I guess it depends which fits into your preferences best. I’m not sure how the ATi drivers are with Linux as I’ve not used one of their cards since 2004 :slight_smile:

I have no experience with AMD graphics but Nvidia should work out of the box on Ubuntu. It uses the open-source drivers as a default. The proprietary onces can be installed through that Ubuntu proprietary drivers manager (I don’t remember what it’s called).

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Yeah, most people seem to be saying Nvidia. So I grabbed myself a several-generations-old GeForce something-or-other off eBay for a tenner. Hopefully it’ll work OK as the daily driver and maybe for some light gaming. If I ever need more processing welly in future I’ll have a better idea of my requirements and can get something with all the fans and racing car decals on.

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@scharelc @hillsy Yeah, I recently switched from Fedora to Ubuntu on my gaming PC. The open source ones are OK, but Unity doesn’t seem to run very well with them (on an GTX 960). The “Additional Drivers” wizard works really well for the proprietary driver.

Well, a GTX 960 is significantly more graphics card than the one I got which is a 310 or something :grin:

(what can I say, I don’t like spending money and I like recycling old hardware…)

But at least I know what the top end looks like now too, and that it runs OK under Ubuntu with the proprietary driver.

The AMD open source drivers more than adequate for casual use, it really depends upon what kind of gaming you’re trying to do. Minecraft will run fine on just about any ATI/AMD GPU. Movies will play fine, at least for 1920x1080 resolution (which is all I have). etc… etc… I could even get Starcraft 2 to play with Wine on a six year old AMD card running the open source drivers, although I had the graphics options near the lowest levels on Linux (vs. near the highest on Windows).

Phoronix lists a lot of gaming benchmarks with all kinds of GPUs and drivers. If you have a particular game in mind you could search for it there to see what fits your performance requirements and budget.

Three additional things to consider with respect to AMD/ATI cards:

  1. Some of the older high end cards have very high power requirements. So if you find a screaming deal on a four year old top end card that performs well, make sure you have enough capacity and connectors in your power supply to run it.

  2. The newest AMD video cards are mid range cards with the RX designation: RX 460, RX 470, RX 480. They came out last summer, so Ubuntu 16.04 default kernels don’t have device drivers. They’ll boot and you’ll get a screen, but the performance will be awful until you jump through hoops to get newer versions of the kernel and mesalib.

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