After a problem with my old motherboard, I'm switching my Ubuntu to my gaming computer. My main question is: is there any reason to keep my AMD HD 7850 running on this computer?

My motherboard has VGA/HDMI connectors.

Will any application, OS, Ubuntu, or the system use the GPU to process any data?

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    GPUs, in my knowledge, do most of the heavy lifting in terms of processing graphics. If you get rid of the GPU it will severely limit the kind of graphics your computer can display. For example, Minecraft is a game that relies heavily on GPU. If you remove the GPU Minecraft will likely become unplayable. So if you are running a server then the onboard graphics will likely be enough but if you have a computer on which you will be using the desktop and normal desktop applications a lot then you may want to consider getting a new graphics card. – It's Willem Jul 17 '15 at 0:24

Graphics cards help with:

  • CUDA/OpenCL style workloads (eg bitcoin mining)
  • 3D rendering. You might be rendering stuff on demand.
  • Most cards can help with video decoding but this applies to many IGPs too.
  • Some cards have hardware to help with video encoding. The quality is usually a lot poorer and this is still under development. ffmpeg can use nvenc (obviously on a Nvidia card). I'm not sure if this applies to you.

Almost everything else will only go through the CPU. If you're not doing any of the above (in a way that uses the GPU) you might as well pull the card.

But hang on a second, you can also play games on Ubuntu. The AMD drivers are occasionally infuriating, but that's potentially an option. If you're planning on running a media centre, your onboard graphics might be enough but we use a low-end Nvidia card to help in ours.

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    Play games on a server? – Pilot6 Jul 16 '15 at 16:30
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    @Pilot6 The question mentions onboard graphics so I assumed this wasn't headless. "Server" is a very broad term. Our house server is also a media centre and Steam box (as well as being a fileserver, backup repo, proxy, dns server, webserver, CI station, etc, etc, etc). It's certainly not a desktop. – Oli Jul 16 '15 at 16:33
  • Oli gave me a idea, I have a small Atom computer running openelec, I could take it off and use the server direct on tv with Kodi... – André M. Faria Jul 16 '15 at 16:34
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    @Pilot6 Yes we can play games on server if you install for example X2GO and you choose to run on your server Ubuntu Desktop (for instance) instead of Ubuntu Server. – user284234 Jul 16 '15 at 16:35
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    @AndréM.Faria If you're doing that (and starting with Ubuntu Server), I'd suggest following my tutorial on building a kiosk, just ignore all the nonsense about chrome, just have it run Kodi instead. This is how my HTPC works. – Oli Jul 16 '15 at 16:37

Yes if the server generates or, for instance, re-sizes images. Software that uses, or could use, the existing graphic card for such tasks, is not unheard of.

Surely, this depends a lot on what kind of software, what kind of GPU, is the suitable driver available and things the like.

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