Greetings, I've helped a friend on building his new PC, but made the big mistake of advising him on using a Sandy Bridge Core i5 2500 for graphics. As we've experienced (and I've read on Phoronix), the Sandy Bridge graphics performance has been subpar in Ubuntu to say the least: We had to install a Linux 3 kernel and Mesa development snapshots in order to make them to work, and even with that, there are several issues with Compiz and the screen resolution.

I want to make up with that getting a video card that works. It doesn't have to be expensive, I'm looking for something below $100.

These are the conditions:

  • It must work with Ubuntu 11.04 out of the box, no workarounds, no hacks. This includes desktop effects and virtual terminal resolution.
  • It must display video in the native resolution of the LCD (1280x1024). If it doesn't have a VGA port, it must work with a DVI to VGA converter, without issues or workarounds (SNB couldn't).
  • It has to perform adequately for light 3D gaming (Minecraft, Lugaru, Quake 4, etc.) for a 1280x1024 resolution.
  • It should work well with a 450 W power supply.
  • It doesn't need to be a heavy gaming card - it shouldn't take more than one bracket from the tower; but this is not an absolute must.

I've looked at some cards for about 85 bucks: Nvidia GeForce 8800 GT (512 MB GDDR3 VRAM, used), GeForce 9600 GT (1 GB GDDR3 VRAM, used), GeForce 9500 GT (1 GB DDR2 VRAM, new), GeForce GT 240 (1 GB DDR3 VRAM, new), GeForce GT 430 (1 GB GDDR3 VRAM, new); ATI Radeon HD 4670 (1 GB DDR3 VRAM, new) and Radeon HD 5570 (1 GB DDR3 VRAM, new).

Which one do you recommend? Are there any other cards I should look for?

I live in Colombia and card prices tend to be higher than in the US, but if the card you propose works under the conditions described above, we can consider it.