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I'm build a Windows gaming machine for my other half for Christmas. While the primary purpose of the machine will be Windows gaming I'd like to set-up with a dual boot Linux OS. I'd like the cards 3D functions to be supported with an open source driver when running Linux.

As my other half is unlikely to be playing super hardcore 3D games requiring the latest/greatest GPU I think I can afford to run a slightly lower spec card to get Linux support. I'm assuming that Intel chipsets are still non-competitive for gaming setups.

Which family should I choose, ATI/AMD or nVidia? Does ATI/AMD have an advantage over nVidia as novoue is completely reverse engineered versus some info available for ATI/AMD?

Card suggestions welcome.

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Traditionally Nvidia has had better support on Linux. More recently AMD is starting to get more attention then it used to. Bottom line, do the research on the specific card beforehand to see how easy it is to get it up and running. Don't expect support for Crossfire or SLI.

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If you're counting open-source accelerated drivers only, traditionally (and now) AMD has better support. But yes, you should still investigate the particular chipset before buying. –  ephemient Nov 17 '10 at 18:13
    
Crossfire/SLI are card bonding technologies aren't they? I fairly sure that would just be too much GPU power for our needs :-) –  stsquad Nov 19 '10 at 8:52
    
Yes, it distributes the graphics load across two or more cards. Sometimes it is cheaper to run less powerful cards in that way, but can offer more headaches. –  Alex Nov 20 '10 at 18:04

With closed source drivers, nVidia.

Open source, ATI, however they are still very lacking (even the closed source drivers have issues with a lot of games in wine).

So from someone who's been using linux as a primary OS for work/gaming since 2002, I highly recommend nvidia.

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