Best Linux graphics drivers?

Hi. I have recently upgraded my desktop PC to a i5-9600k and want to get a graphics card for it. Should I go with AMD or Nvidia, in terms of which has the best supported/least painfull (Debian-) Linux drivers?

My laptop uses the binary Nvidia driver, and even though I had some troubles getting games to run in the past, especially under wine, it seems to be more compatible these days. But still require the binary blob, and Nvidia has a record of dropping support for old cards well before I’m done with them.

On the other hand, there’s AMD and the Radeon cards, and even though my old Radeon 6850 has excellent support with the OpenSource driver, I haven’t tried any recent cards, and I’m unsure is they has equally good driver support, or if I need to go with the binary or the OpenSource driver.

So what are you guys using with your Linux machines and what should I go with?

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AMD because it’s a native kernel module and not a proprietary install.

Not sure how you come to that conclusion. As long as your stuff is up to date there is not really any difference. If anything I would argue AMD’s support is better at this point.

The question really is which card you want to use and if you need vulkan (including DXVK/D9VK). If you really want to use that 6850 you have, that doesn’t support AMDGPU. And the older Radeon driver doesn’t support Vulkan so… careful there.

The same is somewhat true for nvidia tho, Vulkan support was only introduced in 395 or something like that, and DXVK only supports 418 upwards.

I don’t want to keep the 6850, I’ts just my reference point in terms of Radeon support. I’ll probably go with a Rx 580 or Vega 56, or a GTX 1060, if I choose that side.

In that case it doesn’t really matter except for the installation and possible future support. AMD is literally plug and play since the driver comes with the kernel


Thanks! I’ll go hunting for a AMD card, then.

I cant say I’ve had any major problems with nvidia in linux and performance is top notch.

So I guess by what metric would you define ‘best’?

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They both work fine. The Nvidia install in Debian and it’s family of distros is just a few command lines or menu navigations.
Not a reason to not get an Nvidia card.

The best driver is the one that is most likely to work with any, native or wine, game I might want to play. And least likely to break when I’m updating or messing around with stuff, or loose support for my card as time passes.

You guys make it sound like graphic drivers really have improved. For me, it has always been some of the most cumbersome hardware to get working right.

Given that you’re using debian, for nvidia, youll want to use whatever method they have to install proprietary drivers. They probably wont be up to date but it will reduce the headache of installing the ones from nvidia and then getting a kernel update. I havent had any issues playing games because of nvidia. As far as support goes, you’re already going to be using the older drivers due to the nature of debian. The same is true for AMD, unless you’re updating to the latest kernel. Thats one of the reasons I like fedora so much.

NVIDIA proprietary benchs better than any AMD just saying.

Did the debian family fix the black screen issue where you have to manually blacklist nouveau?

On a VM install of Debian 9.4 with an old 650M laptop, yes.

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Considering it does it automatically during the nvidia-driver installation, tells you this, and recommends a reboot, I’m gonna say yes :wink::smiling_face_with_three_hearts::smiling_face_with_three_hearts::smiling_face_with_three_hearts:


Used 970 and 1080


Damn, took them long enough. :confused:

Back during the 600 series (and 900 series for a bit) they didn’t do it. Both Ubuntu and Debian. It’s what sent me on the search for a different distro, finally to land on Fedora.

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Stretch has been worlds apart from Wheezy and Jessie.

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The New stable is about to get a good bit better. Too bad it will be using 4.19 though instead of 5.1 or 5.2. I run Debian SID and even I am stuck on 4.19.0-5 until they finish the freeze for Debian 10. On ArchLinux, I am on 5.1-somthing. Normally with SID, I am within one or two bug fix releases behind Arch.


If you are used to the NV update game, then no need to shy away. If you want an “It just works” solution then go with AMD. The AMDGPU open source driver is pretty mature right now (except for maybe Radeon VII).

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I want the “it just works” solution :wink:

But I’m really glad to realize the FireGL driver isn’t a thing anymore. That was kinda was I was afraid about with the AMD cards. Back in the day, they dropped support for the Radeon x1900 in my ThinkPad T60p while the machine was still under warranty, and thus, really not that old. And then there was that time I was trying to get something to run on my Nvidia machine, and broke OpenGL completely and so bad I ended up reinstalling, which I usually only do when I get a new drive. Or my not so old ThinkPad W510, that is stuck on either the legacy nvidia driver, that doesn’t work with Factorio, or the Nouveau driver, that doesn’t work with Factorio either. Those are the horror stories that made me make this thread.

5.0 series kernels are in Experimental if you want them. I need it for my Radeon VII at the moment.

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For mostly open source drivers, AMD has the best performance.

Nouveau isn’t useful for anything beyond installing the nvidia proprietary driver, and while Intel Just Works™, their integrated chipsets don’t have impressive performance.

AMD’s amdgpu driver will give you video capable of playing games well.

It should be noted however, that all modern video driver chipsets on AMD64 require binary blobs. They’re licensed under the GPL and included in the linux-firmware source tree, but they’re still binary blobs.

For this reason, Debian still classifies them as non-free components under the Debian Free Software Guidelines, so you’ll still need to enable the non-free repo.

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I know the AMD driver still has the closed source firmware files, I already use them with my 6850, but they don’t seem to be as closely linked to the kernel as the nvidia module, and thus, prone to breaking, which is my main concern. There’s even another thread about it right now.

It isn’t a “I don’t wan’t any closed source code running on my system” thing, as it pretty much goes out the window on any modern PC anyway. If it was, I would be asking about putting Coreboot on the aforementioned T60p :smiley: