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I have a desktop computer I use solely for work. It has multiple monitors. I'd like to get a graphics card for the sole purpose of making multi-monitor as painless as possible. So my criteria are:

  • Must have excellent Linux support. Easily available drivers, good documentation online, as few known issues as possible, and as little troubleshooting required as possible.
  • Must have multiple ports for multiple monitors.
  • Power doesn't matter. I don't play games or do heavy 3D graphics, and if I want to do GPU computation, I can just use it as a slow test machine when developing but then do my heavy lifting on a beefier machine (like dedicated supercomputer).
  • Something cheap ($100-200 or less) is preferred - often the premium on GPUs is for performance and being on the cutting edge. Given that I am interested in neither of these things, I'd rather not overspend.

This question should be applicable to the many other professional Linux users, but I would appreciate an extra sentence or two in your answer pointing to something that's suited to me in particular. The details of my setup are:

  • Gigabyte Z97X-UD5H motherboard
  • 16 GB ram
  • i7-4790K
  • Two Dell monitors, both 1920x1080. Dell 1907FPV (resolution detected incorrectly) and U2312HM.
  • On board graphics driving both monitors, one through DVI and one through VGA
  • Manjaro Linux with the Cinnamon spin and compton. Manjaro is arch-based and pretty popular at #3 on distrowatch, but I think it's worth considering the Debian/Ubuntu situation as well with regard to compatibility since those are more popular.

What cheap, decent graphics card can I buy to drive my monitors with the fewest driver, configuration and troubleshooting issues?

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If you're still looking for recommendations, I'd take a look at the MSI Radeon RX 560 - 1024 4GB AERO video card. If you're still using Manjaro (the best!) then this would be the simplest solution for you. You can use the open-source drivers built into the kernel and get fantastic performance, meaning all you do is put it in your PCIe slot and power it up. It also supports up to 3 displays (it has 1 HDMI, 1 DisplayPort, and 1 DVI-D) and will support up to 4K resolutions.

The nVidia equivalent is the EVGA GTX 1050 which is about $30 or so more. There are 2 main drawbacks with this card. 1) it requires a 6-pin PCIe power connector from your power supply. If you have a prebuilt machine, the OEM power supply might not have one. 2) If you're using nVidia graphics cards on Linux you should be using their proprietary, non-free drivers which you will have to update.

Given those 2 choices, I'd pick the Radeon due to its inherent simplicity. You'll plug it in, power up, and just go.

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