please recommend new ati or nvidia card?

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please recommend new ati or nvidia card?

Postby tuxracer » 2012-04-10 22:56

I was going to post this in 'Help-Hardware' or 'Help-General Questions' but this is not a support request. :)

I've been out of the loop with regards to video cards. I want to buy a 'silent' or htpc video card for my computer. I currently use a GeForce 7950GT but I think it's running a bit warm. I'm not in Linux at the moment but the last time I checked, I was at 47 to 50C. It's not bad but it's not much for gaming and I wanted a cooler-running card. The old card might go in a future budget build, anyway.

I was hoping some Nvidia and ATI card owners will reply and give their two cents.

I've noticed a few posts of ATI owners with NI (HD 6xxx?) cards posting to it's encouraging. ATI/AMD isn't really thought of as a HTPC-oriented card in Linux, though?

I guess it's between the GT520 for Nvidia and Radeon HD 6570 or something similar. Budget is only around $40 or $50, tops. I'll see how that goes.

However, I'm just as interested in how things are, currently, installing either ATI/AMD or Nvidia drivers as I am getting a recommendation for a card. :)

Note: I'm just interested in opinions on the state of fglxrx (the binary driver for AMD/ATI) IN DEBIAN for now.

I usually install two distros, straight Debian (usually testing) and Mint Debian (LMDE) in two partitions. In my Debian install, I'll install Virtualbox. I understand that Wine is still primarily Nvidia-specific or the focus is mainly on Nvidia but if you use Wine, please report on that, too. I can't think of anything else to ask. :-) Volunteer anything else! :)

This info is probably pertinent or 'good-to-know' for evaluation?:
Debian Testing - xorg: 1.11.4 - kernel: 3.2

IF there's any other recommendations and/or suggestions for configurations, please add. I'm not sure I'll be a big fan of Gnome 3.x so if you use it, please offer me your two cents. I was using KDE not too long ago and have xfce on my laptop. However, I will need to do a brand new install and I'm not sure what the current state of things are.

Thanks for any replies! :)
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Re: please recommend new ati or nvidia card?

Postby buntunub » 2012-04-11 00:56

Im using an ATi 6770 now and it works just great with the latest Catalyst drivers off thier website.
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Re: please recommend new ati or nvidia card?

Postby brian.va » 2012-04-11 01:07

I have a 520 in my fileserver/HTPC and seems to work fine. The proprietary drivers allow for proper video acceleration, useful when playing HD rips. I tried for a while to get the integrated radeon chip (HD3200 I think) to do that but never could.
I would look at getting one of the fanless ones, the one on mine isn't loud when the TV or radio is on but you can hear it when they are off or turned down pretty low. You can adjust the fan speeds a little and that did help without the temps raising much if any. You should be able to get one in that budget, maybe slightly more.

This is probably the one I would get if I was buying one now.
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Re: please recommend new ati or nvidia card?

Postby dasein » 2012-04-11 01:55

A few random thoughts in no particular order:

    - Don't reject an actively-cooled card just on principle. In my experience, any passively-cooled (aka "silent") video card is going to run hotter (by maybe 10 degrees C) compared to an actively cooled card. Passively-cooled cards rely on good airflow in and around the case to stay cool.

    I stuck an ASUS-branded actively-cooled GT210 in my latest rig, and I cannot hear the modest little card fan at all. Typical temp in the mid- to high- 30s.

    The primary downside of an actively-cooled card is that you have to blow the dust bunnies out of the card fan occasionally. Then too, some of the heatsinks I've seen on passively-cooled cards these days end up blocking the slot next to the video card, making it unusable.

    - I've never gone wrong with nVidia, though from what I've seen, some folks have reported occasional issues when mixing older (or maybe lower-end?) cards and the newer drivers. Again, I've never had a problem, but I thought I'd mention it.
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Re: please recommend new ati or nvidia card?

Postby tuxracer » 2012-04-12 17:41

rajaesco wrote:Im using an ATi 6770 now
And? :)

Thanks for the feedback so far! :)

I'm partial to Nvidia just because most of the reports seem to indicate there's less issues and more options. Here's what I see as the advantages:

1) timely updates
2) hardware acceleration options
3) WINE focus on nvidia
4) support forum - nvnews
5) works with newer xorg and kernel sooner than ATI/AMD

I just don't see the same pros with ATI/AMD. They have an open source option but that's it. I don't know if anything is changed but when you try Debian Testing or latest Fedora or whatever later kernel/xorg, the AMD/ATI binary driver won't be ready. Maybe it's a better situation now?

Do you ATI owners ever try Testing or Sid or WINE? What are your experiences?
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Re: please recommend new ati or nvidia card?

Postby bpaterni » 2012-04-12 19:14

As an owner of a hd 4850 driven by the open source stack, I would say I'm petty happy with it. The open source stack has come a long way in the few years since AMD started the initiative. KMS is great. 2d desktop rendering is solid. Video can now be accelated using shader-based vdpau/xvmc. 3d is coming along with opengl 3.0 support close to being enabled by default in mesa. Admittedly though, 3d support is a bit behind spec when compared with other drivers, but it is good enough for me.

Additionally, I would say 4/5 of nvidia's supposed advantages listed hold true for the amd supported, open source drivers, and some to a greater degree than nvidia. The only area I see amd lacking in is in wine's support for games. I don't own that many myself, but of the ones I have tried (<10) only one worked and was playable: Counter Strike Source.
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Re: please recommend new ati or nvidia card?

Postby pendrachken » 2012-04-15 19:46

bpaterni wrote:As an owner of a hd 4850 driven by the open source stack, I would say I'm petty happy with it. The open source stack has come a long way in the few years since AMD started the initiative. KMS is great. 2d desktop rendering is solid. Video can now be accelated using shader-based vdpau/xvmc. 3d is coming along with opengl 3.0 support close to being enabled by default in mesa. Admittedly though, 3d support is a bit behind spec when compared with other drivers, but it is good enough for me.

Additionally, I would say 4/5 of nvidia's supposed advantages listed hold true for the amd supported, open source drivers, and some to a greater degree than nvidia. The only area I see amd lacking in is in wine's support for games. I don't own that many myself, but of the ones I have tried (<10) only one worked and was playable: Counter Strike Source.



When did vaapi start working? I messed around on and off for a few days on my HD4200 testing machine and couldn't get it to work at all. either video would crash or just be pure black on supported codecs.

As others have said, NVidia has AWESOME support for VDPAU HW acceleration. Even back when I had my G210 ( can be grabbed for about $40-60USD or less now ) I could play back 1080P H.264 files with ~4% CPU usage. FOr a HTPC setup this is ideal, you aren't pegging out the CPU causing the CPU fan to spin up or the CPU to throttle back when it gets hot.
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Re: please recommend new ati or nvidia card?

Postby bpaterni » 2012-04-15 20:33

My experience was quite rough for the first few weeks, but after some bugs were ironed out, it performs rather nicely for me with whatever I though at it (1080p). It is a relatively new development (perhaps pushed to mesa master a few months ago). The vdpau state tracker is only available in upstream mesa right now. If you want the vdpau state tracker, you will have to pull, compile, and install mesa manually. AFAIK, there is no debian package that provides libvdpau_r600.so
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Re: please recommend new ati or nvidia card?

Postby tuxracer » 2012-04-21 08:18

pendrachken wrote:When did vaapi start working? I messed around on and off for a few days on my HD4200 testing machine and couldn't get it to work at all. either video would crash or just be pure black on supported codecs.

As others have said, NVidia has AWESOME support for VDPAU HW acceleration. Even back when I had my G210 ( can be grabbed for about $40-60USD or less now ) I could play back 1080P H.264 files with ~4% CPU usage. FOr a HTPC setup this is ideal, you aren't pegging out the CPU causing the CPU fan to spin up or the CPU to throttle back when it gets hot.
That's good to know, thanks! Does it matter if it's a silent/passive card? There's two types. Which one would be the better choice? The 'passive' cards might get warmer as it depends on the cooling inside the case? These cards range from $20 to $40 so seems like not a bad deal.
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Re: please recommend new ati or nvidia card?

Postby Roel63 » 2012-04-21 09:23

Gnome 3 works great here on my Intel card. Does that count?
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Re: please recommend new ati or nvidia card?

Postby tuxracer » 2012-04-21 16:18

emma157 wrote:where can i get the latest NVIDIA driver from? any help please?
Here:
http://www.nvidia.com/object/unix.html

Most current version (released): 295.40

Currently, there's a few issues with the Nvidia drivers so you might want to hold on installing the newest ones for the time being.

http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=n ... px=MTA4ODc
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Re: please recommend new ati or nvidia card?

Postby gradinaruvasile » 2012-04-27 10:21

pendrachken wrote:
bpaterni wrote:As an owner of a hd 4850 driven by the open source stack, I would say I'm petty happy with it. The open source stack has come a long way in the few years since AMD started the initiative. KMS is great. 2d desktop rendering is solid. Video can now be accelated using shader-based vdpau/xvmc. 3d is coming along with opengl 3.0 support close to being enabled by default in mesa. Admittedly though, 3d support is a bit behind spec when compared with other drivers, but it is good enough for me.

Additionally, I would say 4/5 of nvidia's supposed advantages listed hold true for the amd supported, open source drivers, and some to a greater degree than nvidia. The only area I see amd lacking in is in wine's support for games. I don't own that many myself, but of the ones I have tried (<10) only one worked and was playable: Counter Strike Source.



When did vaapi start working? I messed around on and off for a few days on my HD4200 testing machine and couldn't get it to work at all. either video would crash or just be pure black on supported codecs.

As others have said, NVidia has AWESOME support for VDPAU HW acceleration. Even back when I had my G210 ( can be grabbed for about $40-60USD or less now ) I could play back 1080P H.264 files with ~4% CPU usage. FOr a HTPC setup this is ideal, you aren't pegging out the CPU causing the CPU fan to spin up or the CPU to throttle back when it gets hot.


AMD is supported via VAAPI only on cards that do UVD2 hardware decoding. As far as i know, UVD2 support begins with the 4250 card (4200 doesnt have it yet). So HD3000 series or lower have no such support on Linux.

I am a nvidia fan and i used nvidia cards exclusively with Linux. They do work great with the proprietary drivers.
The VDPAU acceleration is the best around, beats AMD's VAAPI hands down (such as 15% CPU vs 35% CPU on the same 1080p clip)
I once did test a 6670 AMD (i bought it for a customer's build and did a 2 day trial before...) with the then-latest fglrx driver (dont remember exactly the version).
I was pleasantly surprised:
- every single native Linux 3D game ran well including Wine based ones (LOTRO Online) ran fine.
- VAAPI was working with vlc, providing the above-mentioned values.
- Suspend/resume was working fine.
Note that i use Wheezy with XFCE and no compositing (though i briefly did try compiz and seemed a little slower than my built-in nvidia 8200).
Given this experience, my next laptop will be definitely and AMD APU one (i had some really bad experiences with dedicated gpus in laptops and Intels dont cut it especially on Linux), and probably the desktop too (I dont need that much GPU power, and if the 8200 is enough, any APU will outperform it for less power usage - 1080p performance is good enough and it will probably will get only better).

So, my take is that anything will work, but if you are desperate for 1080p decoding, by all means buy nvidia.
I suggest to buy a 128-bit card if it fits your budget - those ran way faster than the lowest 64-bit ones even if the rest of the specs are the same. Passive cooling is ok - from my experience the actively cooled ones kick the bucket sooner plus they tend to be noisier.
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Re: please recommend new ati or nvidia card?

Postby pendrachken » 2012-04-28 04:07

gradinaruvasile wrote:
pendrachken wrote:
bpaterni wrote:As an owner of a hd 4850 driven by the open source stack, I would say I'm petty happy with it. The open source stack has come a long way in the few years since AMD started the initiative. KMS is great. 2d desktop rendering is solid. Video can now be accelated using shader-based vdpau/xvmc. 3d is coming along with opengl 3.0 support close to being enabled by default in mesa. Admittedly though, 3d support is a bit behind spec when compared with other drivers, but it is good enough for me.

Additionally, I would say 4/5 of nvidia's supposed advantages listed hold true for the amd supported, open source drivers, and some to a greater degree than nvidia. The only area I see amd lacking in is in wine's support for games. I don't own that many myself, but of the ones I have tried (<10) only one worked and was playable: Counter Strike Source.



When did vaapi start working? I messed around on and off for a few days on my HD4200 testing machine and couldn't get it to work at all. either video would crash or just be pure black on supported codecs.

As others have said, NVidia has AWESOME support for VDPAU HW acceleration. Even back when I had my G210 ( can be grabbed for about $40-60USD or less now ) I could play back 1080P H.264 files with ~4% CPU usage. FOr a HTPC setup this is ideal, you aren't pegging out the CPU causing the CPU fan to spin up or the CPU to throttle back when it gets hot.


AMD is supported via VAAPI only on cards that do UVD2 hardware decoding. As far as i know, UVD2 support begins with the 4250 card (4200 doesnt have it yet). So HD3000 series or lower have no such support on Linux.

I am a nvidia fan and i used nvidia cards exclusively with Linux. They do work great with the proprietary drivers.
The VDPAU acceleration is the best around, beats AMD's VAAPI hands down (such as 15% CPU vs 35% CPU on the same 1080p clip)
I once did test a 6670 AMD (i bought it for a customer's build and did a 2 day trial before...) with the then-latest fglrx driver (dont remember exactly the version).
I was pleasantly surprised:
- every single native Linux 3D game ran well including Wine based ones (LOTRO Online) ran fine.
- VAAPI was working with vlc, providing the above-mentioned values.
- Suspend/resume was working fine.
Note that i use Wheezy with XFCE and no compositing (though i briefly did try compiz and seemed a little slower than my built-in nvidia 8200).
Given this experience, my next laptop will be definitely and AMD APU one (i had some really bad experiences with dedicated gpus in laptops and Intels dont cut it especially on Linux), and probably the desktop too (I dont need that much GPU power, and if the 8200 is enough, any APU will outperform it for less power usage - 1080p performance is good enough and it will probably will get only better).

So, my take is that anything will work, but if you are desperate for 1080p decoding, by all means buy nvidia.
I suggest to buy a 128-bit card if it fits your budget - those ran way faster than the lowest 64-bit ones even if the rest of the specs are the same. Passive cooling is ok - from my experience the actively cooled ones kick the bucket sooner plus they tend to be noisier.


My Mobility 4250 is supposed to have the UVD2, I jut could never get it to work so far.

Maybe when I have some more spare time I will check it out again, it's not like I don't have enough CPU to decode 1080P anyways even if it doesn't work, it's more a matter of time in getting it to work. Power saving ( on battery ) should be better with HW decoding though.
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Re: please recommend new ati or nvidia card?

Postby dark_stang » 2012-05-05 14:56

Just throwing this in there. I'm running nVidia 430's in my workstation and media center, both of which are quiet and work great. I'm actually quite impressed at how these perform. Both of the 430's that I am running have fans, but you can get fanless ones. I imagine a 520 will do nicely too.
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