Can anyone recommend a good, cheap video card that can handle modern desktop requirements? Cheap is somewhere under $50.

I'm talking about decent 3d effects for Unity and friends, as well as playing the occasional video and running Flash. I'd like something that's autodetected and doesn't require any effort other than installing a few debs. My monitor is running 1680x1050.

(I've checked HardwareSupportComponentsVideoCards, I haven't been able to find promising results on Google, and I can't find any of the cards listed here for under $50)

Update: I've installed 11.04 and my video performance has gone from slow to constant flashing without showing windows. (!?!?)

6 Answers 6


I've used a Radeon HD5450 with Ubuntu with good results. Very nice image, no fan, 1GB memory, good non-gaming OpenGL support, low power consumption, less than $50, no fan, HDMI and DVI output, no fan.

It also has CrossFireX support but why would you use it?

Did I mention that it has no fan?

  • 1
    +1 Also used Ubuntu with that card; using open source drivers.
    – vartec
    Commented May 2, 2011 at 0:27
  • I had a Radeon HD4550 with no fan and it lasted 10 months before giving up and requiring replacement. Just purchased a Radeon HD5570 which has a massive 80mm fan and so far so good, cost a little more than $50 though. Commented May 7, 2011 at 3:41

Here are some options:

$50 and under:

slightly over $50:

I am not sure what slot you have on your motherboard though... so these may or may not work for you.

  • +1 for GeForce 210. I have the Asus Silent model - it works fine with Ubuntu 10.10 and 11.04 (including 3D desktop and Flash), no fan, 4 W power consumption at idle, HDMI/DVI/VGA output. I expect that the Radeon 5450 is very similar. Commented May 2, 2011 at 15:14

If you are buying the motherboard, you can get one with an embedded Intel video card. Any recent Intel video card should be fine.

If you plan for an AMD CPU, then an AMD/ATI card is a good choice. You have significant chances that the card will be supported by the open-source driver, and if that fails for now, you have the closed driver.

With NVidia products, is almost similar with AMD/ATI, with the big exception that the open-source driver receives no support from NVidia.

The page https://wiki.ubuntu.com/HardwareSupportComponentsVideoCards is good but not updated so often. Check the last update date for each of the pages.

  • Three of the five HardwareSupportComponentsVideoCards pages haven't been updated in over a year. The two that have been updated recently don't list cards that work without difficulty. Assuming I'm reading it right. :)
    – Erigami
    Commented Apr 28, 2011 at 2:46

Asus EN210. Yes it is marketed as a home-theatre card, but the home-theatre interfaces are really just graphic-intensive applications running on 1920x1080 displays, with 3d & transparency effects, video playback and maybe some flash. Much like your 'modern desktop'.


are you trying to run unity on 11.04 ? if so, select ubuntu classic in gdm ( it is on down panel ). if it wont help, post info about hw that you are using.

about a video card, i found some nvidia 9500GT cards in shops under 50$ ( personally, im running 9500GS mobile ), vdpau runs fine, desktop without problems, some games too. If you will decide for nvidia, geforce series 8 is minimum, wouldn't buy something from 7 series ( because of lack of vdpau ).

Cannot tell about AMD/ATI, never used them.


I always opt for all Intel hardware for use on Linux, and never had problems. Even the drives video cards Intel is a module of the Linux kernel.

  • I'm using an integrated Intel card at the moment.
    – Erigami
    Commented May 2, 2011 at 3:43
  • I heard that the Core-i series have pretty good graphics embedded, so if you take an i5 your graphics cards is free. Commented May 6, 2011 at 14:00

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