Upgrading host GPU, looking for 2 slot recommendation

I’m looking to upgrade my host (arch linux) GPU which is currently a RX 580.

Realistically the most the upgrade will be for is media encoding, like Plex (maybe Jellyfin, I haven’t looked into it yet).

I am constrained to a 2 slot height maximum! The rest of my PCIe slots are populated and can not be shuffled around to accommodate anything bigger.

So I come to ya’ll with a few questions:
Should I lean towards AMD or Nvidia? I would usually stick to AMD due to the driver issues with Nvidia on Linux, but I know Nvidia announced they would be releasing open source drivers for us.
Do I need one over the other for hardware accelerated Plex encoding?

Whats the best consumer-grade 2 slot GPU? I know I could fit any GPU with a watercooling block, but I like the hum of air flow and dislike liquid anywhere near my workstation!

Instead of a consumer grade GPU, could I get an older server grade card, like a Tesla, to use as my host GPU and just use the RX 580 in another slot for display outputs? If I can go this route, would I be able to use the server card for graphical acceleration in my virtual machines? Does that require a license?

Thanks for your recommendations!

Well, it’s hard to give a recommendation without a budget. If you don’t know, give us a ballpark?

I could recommend some really expensive 2 slot GPUs, but I could also recommend some very affordable ones. They’d all do the trick, but more expensive ones tend to be better at encoding.

The amd.com reference GPUs mostly are 2 slots where aib are not. Fwiw

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Yep, reference GPUs are really the only way to get a mid to high end board that complies to exactly 2 slots.

Fair enough, I should have included a budget.

Its gonna scale with what I’m gaining. If it just going to provide Plex encoding, maybe around $500. If I can slice up its power and divy it up to VMs, I can start saving up to $2,000 for enterprise gear.

I’m doing my research now as consumer cards are falling and likely dip even more so with the upcoming 40 series release.

Hi Wendell! I was just about to rewatch your "Gaming On An Old Tesla GPU: 980ti Performance for $100?! " video!

Since you want Linux, go AMD. That said:

  • The most powerful AMD card today is the 6950 XT, but that seems to have already gone out of stock.
  • Second most powerful card is the 6900 XT, if a 2.5 slot (50mm) is o.k. I could recommend the PowerColor 6900 XT Reference Card.
  • Otherwise I am afraid the most powerful current AMD 2 slot card is the PowerColor Fighter 6700 XT. The 7000 series might change this, but time will tell.

Sapphire and PowerColor are the most reliable AMD card brands, just like EVGA was the most reliable Nvidia brand. That said, there might be smaller cards out there given that there is a market vacuum for small and powerful GPUs right now.