Ubuntu or any Linux based distribution has very bad history regarding the graphics card compatibility and performance (The reason is obvious, driver manufacturers do not provide driver softwares for their graphics card..), but in past few years I’ve noticed some nice changes and improvements which is worth acceptable. Since Ubuntu is the most popular desktop distribution, so now a days, it’s not a difficult task to find a good video card well compatible with Ubuntu 11.04 (Natty Narwhal) or 10.10 (Maverick Meerkat) or 10.04 LTS (alias : Lucid Lynx). Most of the graphics cards will be auto detected by Ubuntu (Just after the installation of Ubuntu 11.04/..).

In this post, you will learn how to select a graphics card for you Ubuntu computer, depending on your need and budget. If you are a normal users and think that I do not need any graphics card, then also you would probably have to purchase a graphics card because of the 3D effects of unity desktop (Although you can use classic desktop instead and turn off the compiz effects to go smoothly). By the way there are other advantages of using Graphics Card – such as better video quality (which in turn means that watching movies will be more Fun!), a lot of funky 3D effects, better system performance (due to dedicated video memory or GPU (Graphics Processing Unit)), and of course – good for video game players because you can play more games in better ways depending on the power of graphics card.

If you’re building a Gaming rig, then you should also checkout these : Entry level gaming PC under 40k and this one : Mid range gaming PC under 70k (INR)

Best Graphics Card for absolute beginners

MSI 8400 GS 256 MB

Nvidia 8400GS – 256MB is one of the Cheapest graphics card and well suitable for the users who want to purchase just a graphics card for enjoying some 3D effects with Ubuntu desktop. it will be automatically detected by the Ubuntu and all you need to do is to Enable the restricted driver, and reboot the computer!

Price : $34.63

Buy MSI 8400GS from amazon.com

Best Graphics Card for Entry Level Gamers

Buy ZOTAC Nvidia Geforce 9800GT from Amazon

ZOTAC Nvidia Gefore 9800 is a good graphics card for novice gamers and users who wants little more than 3D effects on Ubuntu 11.04. it is also detected automatically, for 3D you need nvidia-glx; works with version 180.44. (More Help in installing Binary Driver on Ubuntu).

Price : $89.99

Buy ZOTAC Nvidia Geforce 9800 GT from Amazon

Best Graphics Card for Moderately Advanced Level Gamers

ZOTAC Nvidia Geforce GTS 250

ZOTAC Nvidia Geforce GT 250 is good for moderately advanced level gamers (little better than entry level graphics cards), comes between the entry level and high end graphics cards. GT 250 is automatically detected by Ubuntu and 3D requires nvidia-glx (More Help).

Price : $138.99

Buy ZOTAC Nvidia Geforce GT250 from Amazon

Join the Conversation


  1. Thanks for posting. Quick question, Will Zotac Geforce GT 220 work will ubuntu 11.4? well I am planning to buy one – just thought I ask.

    1. Yes but if you want the most bang for your buck then save up and get the gt 250. The GT 220 is the same as the Geforce GT 9600. On my older system I bought a Gforce GT 9800 for $50.00 at CompUSA. Since they had them so cheap I bought 2 and ran them is SLI mode and max out most of the settings on most of my games (World of Warcraft, Call of Duty 4). Remember when running games under Wine the bigger the better.  The version of Linux I use is Ultimate edition 2.9 ( waiting for 3.0 ), Also system memory is key to 4 gigs is ok but 6 or 8 would be alot better. A Geforce GT 250 is running for around $120 now and one would do as much as the two 9800GT. All in all save your money for the 250gt instead of the 220gt. Hope this helps.

      1.  1) gt220 is never a gaming card, but does a lot more vdpau, than 9800
        2) 9800/250 is garbage by today standards. Buying 9800 has no sense, unless its 10-20$ and you have no vga.

  2. Finally got fed up with the unbelievably crappy drivers that ATI has been putting out for years for their Radeon series. *unbelievably crappy*. Not a serious PC gamer like I used to be so the 9800 you recommended works like a freaking charm. Absolutely zero screen issues that would appear to be hardware or driver related. Many thanks for the recommendation.

  3. The 430 is great value too. Similar processing power to the 8800GT, but much more power-efficient and not particularly expensive.

  4. nvidia nvidia nvidia.
    I wonder if that changed with latest 3d tiling patches for amd opensource radeon and with coming of ivy bridge, which driver parts are already pushed into 3.4 kernel.

    Im nvidia 260gtx sp216 owner btw.

    @google-af47a59813e702edab6070587129a454:disqus , 430 is basically garbage. You either take  low-power completely silent card that can do multimonitors and video acceleration.  That would be 220-240Gt or similar. Or you take gamer card. If you take gamer card, it should have very good opengl drivers as well as wine support – and that is never 430. 8800GT is actually dead card already, even performance-wise.

    I don´t know about amd front, since you dont get video accel on opensource and catalyst is much less, but still troublesome, amd is only good for multimontors – which level of support I really don t know(i know that radeon opensource just does randr properly).

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