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At Present Which is the best choice for a Ubuntu graphics card, AMD or nVidia?

This is more of a generic question, call it a pool of issues vs stability in Ubuntu world. I am currently using an ATI HD video card. Although I got quite proficient in installing and dealing with ATI driver issues, I don't know anything about NVidia's problems or issues.

Looking through askUbuntu quite a lot, I see a lot of problems generated by the ATI video cards, and in comparison, I hardly see posts related to NVidia cards. Are the drivers for the latter so good that everything runs out of the box?

So, to keep it short, if I would to change my system now, should I go for an NVidia video card or should I stick to my ATI?

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  • I am trying to gather info about driver stability – bioShark Jan 28 '12 at 23:37
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    nVidia cards are a great choice. The proprietary, closed-source drivers have never been a problem for me and nVidia are very committed about maintaining support for non-Windows drivers. Nvidia has also released VDPAU, providing the equivalent of PureVideo/DirectX Video Acceleration on Windows (8400 GS). – user8290 Jan 29 '12 at 2:41

I have both, and they both work fine.

Bonuses with ATI -
Better opencl performance
Cheaper for more stream processing units
More development in the open drivers

Bonuses with nvidia -
They have a mature freebsd binary driver(probably not relevant for you)
Generally more stable for the time being
If you dual boot, they have less issues with windows gaming if you have a multi-gpu card

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  • Just an additional note: The only issue I have had with ATI on later releases(it didn't used to be a problem), is when I go with lots of screens. My card supports 4 out of the box and it took some heavy tweaking and didn't work without xinerama. Still, it works. – RobotHumans Jan 29 '12 at 20:15
  • But I reckon Nvidia doesn't have issues with multiple screens? Or does it? – bioShark Jan 29 '12 at 20:31
  • In my experience it has had less issues, but to be fair my nvidia card is older and supports 2 screens and my ati card is newer and supports 4 – RobotHumans Jan 29 '12 at 22:26

Currently the AMD drivers are more open to linux development. But before this Nvidia was way more stable for linux and AMD had the most issues. So AMD still has some catching up to do. I would say for now nvidia is still best to go with. The most driver issues that I've experienced with nvidia was lately with optimus technology on newer laptops. The bumblebee project is doing a teriffic job at battling that however. It's a matter of adding a ppa or two, installing via apt-get and you're good to go.

It's your call. But even if you're not afraid to get your hands dirty I would not urge for AMD, because there's always something to do for the nvidia cards too to keep things running nice and smooth. If you want the least possible hastle it's a no brainer, nvidia. Reasons being: 1) they're still ahead when it comes to driver stability. 2) nvidia used to be more stable and so it has a much larger comunity behind it to counter linux problems with nvidia cards.

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It does seem like nvidia has a reputation for better linux compatibility than ATI. However I believe this is less true today than it was in the past. Also, if you're considering doing any bitcoin mining (a stretch, I know) ATI cards will do it faster.

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I would suggest getting nVidia because I've never had any problems with any of those. With ATI cards I've had a lot of trouble regardless to used operating system: for example with X1650 Battlefield for free didn't run under XP.

But to be honest I also have two ATI cards and both of them work well under Ubuntu Lucid (X1650 and integrated X2100).

However in general after a few years of expierience with both producers I choose nVidia when thinking about new PC. Also because of CUDA compiler and other technologies and proffesional libs I get for free when buying VGA card.

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As of now do not go for AMD cards. AMD cards has some issue due to which they are not usable in Gnome3 Environment. Luckily Ubuntu is not using Gnome3, otherwise I would have forced to use another distro. For last couple of months, I have used Gnome3 in many distros and they have the same screen flickering issue. Even after months, AMD did not resolved this issue. So better to stick with Nvidia.

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    1.Bias, 2.The issue is with Gnome-Shell the flickering doesn't happen in the Fallback mode nor in Unity because you know Gnome 3 is not Gnome Shell, Gnome 3 is an Environment, 3. Gnome Shell here in Ubuntu and on Arch is the same so the distro doesn't matter. – Uri Herrera Jan 29 '12 at 5:59

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