I am looking for a graphics card that works well (i.e. has good performance) with the open source drivers that are part of the Linux kernel (version 4.2). I don't need monster performance (not interested in gaming at all) but at least the desktop environment (GNOME Shell) and WebGL in the browser should work smoothly. Cost should be €100 or less.

I have done a lot of research already but now once again bought a graphics card (Radeon HD 8350) that exhibits showstoppingly terrible performance (8 FPS on simple WebGL benchmarks) with the open source Radeon drivers. It's easy to find GPUs compatible with Linux nowadays (which this one is) but in practice it's still unusable without the binary blob.

I know that Phoronix is considered the authoritative source on that topic but they mostly test high-end GPUs for which they consistently find abysmal performance under Linux compared to the proprietary drivers. I just need a card that will make my desktop and browsing feel like it's 2015 and not 1992.

  • How did you get your hands on an 8350? It's the extreme low-end of the HD 8000 series, and as far as I can tell, it's never sold at retail.
    – Mark
    Nov 18 '15 at 20:23
  • I'm also interested in answers to this question. Everyone uses Nvidia cards, but Nvidia doesn't really support free drivers, e.g. the Nouveau project. Nov 20 '15 at 23:59
  • Intel integrated graphics built into current CPUs (and even previous CPUs for several generations back) is sufficient for this. Sep 24 '16 at 9:57

I did some testing with a Radeon 5770. In my judgment, it's massive overkill for your uses, but since you're worried about performance, overkill is good. You don't mention what you're doing with WebGL, so I tested it by activating compositing and then running a few pages from a Google search for "WebGL benchmark". Everything performed smoothly.

Now, the 5770 is an old card (you can probably find one used for $50 or less). Newer cards from AMD that should offer similar performance are the R7 250 and R7 360 cards, both of which are reportedly well-supported by the open-source drivers. Newegg offers an R7 250 for $70 and an R7 360 for $99, so you should be able to find something suitable at the European retailer of your choice.

  • Only marginally relevant, but I tried running my Nvidia card using the Nouveau drivers, and it freaked out under KDE (no idea why). Does your Radeon 4770 work ok under different deskop environments? Feb 2 '16 at 16:48
  • I've used it extensively under XFCE (which uses much of the same graphics code as Gnome), and tested it briefly with KDE 4. It doesn't have any obvious problems with either.
    – Mark
    Feb 2 '16 at 19:25

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