I am trying to find a useable graphics card which has support for compiz and the unity interface.

closed as off topic by Jorge Castro, Luis Alvarado, fossfreedom Dec 12 '12 at 23:45

Questions on Ask Ubuntu are expected to relate to Ubuntu within the scope defined by the community. Consider editing the question or leaving comments for improvement if you believe the question can be reworded to fit within the scope. Read more about reopening questions here. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 5
    Stick with nvidia series.ATI dont work well as of now.. – karthick87 Dec 25 '10 at 19:57
  • 1
    are all nvidia cards alright?? – Evan Dec 25 '10 at 20:02

Depends. If you are going to use ANY kind of laptop. Stick with Intel. Any Intel will do. Nvidia, although very good, heats up very fast the laptop and you will always need some kind of cooling system to have a normal temperature inside the laptop. Most heat problems in laptops are do to some of the Nvidia cards if not all. Having a source of heat so strong inside a laptop is a bad idea if the laptop does not count with a very good cooling system.

If you are into Desktop, i highly recommend NVIDIA. From a GeForce 4200 and above you should be fine using Compiz with full effects. With TNT and Geforce 2 cards i recommend having Compiz with less effects. But overall NVIDIA has a VERY GOOD performance using the proprietary drivers. (The Nouveau Open Source drivers are also good but not for 3D games yet)

ATI has many issues still (Am a Ati hater still) but i can not put aside the fact that Ati/AMD has made open sourced the Ati Code which has improved many times over from the beginnings of this year up to now. Ati drivers have come a VERY long way in so little time and i have a big hunch (I hope it does not happen for Nvidia lovers sake ;) ) than next year we will see a very strong Ati Open Sourced driver that can deliver even better than the Nvidia closed source. Please do remember that just a year ago, the Closed source Ati driver for linux was several times better than the Open Sourced one and now the Open Sourced and Closed Source are very much like (And in some instances better than the closed one). So despite the fact that i hate Ati, i see a very bright sun shiny future for it in the coming months. (Arggg i still hate you hehe)

So in conclusion, for the time being:

Use INTEL if you are using a laptop and want the laptop to last several years ALIVE!

Use NVIDIA if you want to play games, use compiz effects a lot, etc...

Use ATI closed/open drivers but be warned that you will have problems sometimes with compiz effects, games, etc.. At least for the time being.

For you question about "are all NVIDIA cards alright" yes they are. From an 16MB TNT to a 9800 1GB Ram and up. But be sure to use the correct drivers for it.

For VERY old than Geforce 4 or less use: nvidia-glx-96 For Geforce 4 up to starting the 6xxx series use: nvidia-glx-173 For 6xxx series up to the last one use: nvidia-glx-185

Note that you can use any of them for any card but that combination made above is the best you can have. Do not limit yourself with for example, if you have a 6xxx series card and do not know which one to use, go for the last nvidia-glx version. But if you are sure to have a very old one, i recommend the 96 version of nvidia-glx.

Hope all this info helps you.


I find that integrated Intel cards are generally very well supported. They aren't as powerful as discrete cards, but they are powerful enough to support unity. And usually better supported than either ATI or NVIDIA.


I have a Sapphire Radeon HD 6870 graphics card on a very fast computer. My processor is an AMD 1090T (6 core). The grahics performance even with an application like Google-earth is terrible with the proprietary drivers (11.5, 11.4) as well as the open source drivers when using Ubuntu linux 11.04. When I rotate the earth in google earth it looks like an intermittent slide show with variable frequency. When running glmark2 there is sometimes no image at all and then intermittent snapshots.

Under windows 7 the card is fantastic. I can set games to absolute maximum options on the display and it is smooth and real time. The card runs cool and quiet. It gives 7.8 out of 7.9 on the windows experience scale. Problem is I hate windows!!!

I tried a low end Nvidia card vn 240 gt with the proprietary drivers and wow it outperforms the HD 6870 (which is more than double the cost) in very way. Smooth graphics in Ubuntu Linux 11.04 with both the proprietary and open source drivers.

Interestingly the HD 6870 performed better when using Maverick but still not great. From what I have been reading the problem may be with the linux kernel. I use 2.6.38-9 and the drm is not sorted out yet.

My advice is stay away from ATI if you use linux. If you only use windows (why would you be reading this forum?) then go for ATI. I compared a low end integrated Intel video card to my HD 6870 and it also out performed my card. The intel and the nvidia card seemed almost equal and very acceptable. I hope the performance improves drastically in the future or else I will sell my card and buy a Nvidia GTX 460 or 470.


Almost any graphic card is supported on the 2D level more or less sufficiently. There is no generally valid recommendation as it depends very much on your personal needs.

Differences exist in the support of special features such as HDMI, dual monitor support, energy saving modes, and unfortunately still 3D support. For most of these features you depend on proprietary drivers from the manufacturer. These drivers are not so well integrated in a Linux environment, NVidia drivers have done this better than ATI fglrx. A major drawback of proprietary drivers is that in future releases your then "dated" card will no longer be supported.

At the moment, and in case you want to set up your system as "Open Source Only" you are better off using Intel graphics that are fully supported by open source drivers. Open source radeon drivers for ATI cards also have a quite mature state of development, and the nouveau open source NVidia pendant is catching up rapidly.


I say. First pick a card you would like, then try to google out someone who runs ubuntu with it. You find problems you don't want to deal with, go back to picking different card :D

If you need some advanced rendering and stuff that needs or can nicely use CUDA then you need Nvidia. (And for a desktop in general with what ATI and Nvidia have to offer currently, I would stick with Nvidia)

When it comes to laptop and graphics card (I have Nvidia also there) I would reconsider options cause High end Nvidia cards in laptops tend to be pretty loud and overheating when stressed out for long enough(but unless you use CUDA a lot and/or play games then it should be fine)

Anyway you should do some research for specific model and find out which driver works best for it in ubuntu. But I have to say that usualy there aren't much more trouble with stuff like this in ubuntu than in windows. It's just that when something with drivers goes wrong in ubuntu it's much more visible :D...

Also once you get it done. Never update a good working driver unless it solves some compatibility issues, or other stuff you really might need or want!! And it's good habit to google those driver's performace under ubuntu before you really decide to do that.

I've gone "trigger happy" with updates just few days ago and it was a disaster :D

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.