Oh and BTW desktop effects also run just fine on my old Athlon XP 2400+ with Radeon 9500Pro also with the open source drivers, so anything newer than that is probably guaranteed to work, unless there is some kind of bug somehwere.
@Devis: Thanks for the input. I had discounted integrated Nvidia because they hadn't been making anything recently and I didn't see any AM3 nvidia boards; so knowing they're out their means I'll look around some more. I think gaming would be pretty much limited to Hedgewars, it was mostly for XBMC and videos.
The ATI Radeon HD 4290 when equipped with the Catalyst 10.4 Linux driver is a mildly disappointing experience. Even open-source games like Nexuiz and barely Warsow could run well with the Radeon HD 4290 / 890GX at a high resolution.
WTF The whole negative tone of this article doesn't make sense. Of course you shouldn't expect to run games at 1920x1080 with it. It's an IGP for crying out loud! We're talking about a low power and low cost chip, which gives you very good value for your money. I have the HD 3200 which is almost identical and I'm quite amazed by the power of it. And I don't share your negative opinion of it at all.
q:"What are we talking about?"
a:"An Integrated video card (and maybe a new and faster chipset with better SATA support...)"
q:"What is its target?"
a:"Office, HTPC, light and casual gaming, giggling with some light 3d apps (like google earth) maybe..."
q:"So what we are going to test?"
q:"Games? Isn't it outside the target we just discussed? Maybe testing it's power usage, general performance and video acceleration is more suitable, isn't it?"
a:"No way! Let's test games!"
q:"Ok... I think we're going to test games at low resolutions, just to see if they are playable..."
a:"No way, we'll test them at FullHD 1920x1080 resolution. That's the the purpose this video chip is made for, isn't it?"
"If you're interested in video playback under Linux for an HTPC system, you're really best off buying a NVIDIA graphics card that supports VDPAU for the best Linux video experience possible using NVIDIA's binary drivers."
Is that really necessary? I'm looking to build a budget low-power HTPC (combined client/server), but I'd rather not use proprietary drivers. Having seen your disappointing benchmark of the Core i3 integrated and now this I don't know what to buy.
If you absolutely don't want proprietary drivers, your only solution is the Core i3. However, I wouldn't call that an HTPC either since the CPU + integrated GPU is 73W, thus requiring a noisy cooling system.
The best candidate for a small HTPC is something like a Fit-PC2 with Atom Z5xx+US15W. However, if you are a normal end-user, you will get a hard time getting updates for the most current distribution. So, the second best solution is something based on Atom + NVIDIA ION.
Another solution might be some Atom N4xx + a Broadcom Crystal HD video decoder. You can still have OSS drivers for the whole platform (modulo a firmware for the Crystal HD) but the GMA 3150 performance would probably not match your expectations.
There is no competing solution with AMD HW yet. You will have to wait for Bobcat, which will be a very serious competitor, if decent drivers follow. Yes, I strongly believe in the HW, but I have great fears for the drivers...