Sadly, the HD 5670 (1 GB DDR3) is nowhere to be found here now, they run out of them and the GDDR5 version is just out of our budget
We're considering importing it from the US, but there are also some good cards (based on Windows bechmarks) around the same price as it.
I've found a kinda old GeForce GTS 250 new, for about 80 bucks, 1 GB GDDR3, a Geforce GT 440, same price, 1 GB DDR3, GDDR3 and the GDDR5 model at about 82. I've also found the 5670 at 70 bucks, 1 GB DDR3, or 80 bucks for 2 GB DDR3 or 1 GB GDDR5, and the 6670, 80 bucks for 1 GB DDR3.
Add about 7 bucks for shipping and 15% of the total price for the import.
I've seen (Windows) benchmarks comparing the GT 440, the HD 5670 and the 6670, but none of these compared to the GTS 250, but since the latter is a rebranded 9800 GTX, I guess it outperforms the three, being the 6670 second, followed by the 5670 and the 440 last. What is the actual GNU/Linux performance for these cards? Which of these four do you recommend most? What version?
If you mainly care about best perf./price you should probably choose the 250. OTOH, the other three have about 1/3 the power consumption and more features (video, higher DirectX, OpenGL version). The Radeons also support three screens.
I don't recommend the 440, but if you go for that be sure to pick the model carefully. There are multiple versions based on GF108 and GF106 that have very different # of shaders, memory, frequencies and power consumption.
I'd try to avoid the GeForce 400/500 - they consume much more power than the previous FeForce 100 to 300 cards.
If you want to display on multiple screens, I'd always choose ATI. Their driver supports xrandr which means that setting up a second screen is much easier.
Generally the ATI driver is more reliable, but sometimes bugs affecting the performance appear (though Ubuntu's stock 11.4 driver is working quite well IMO). On nVidia, the performance is OK but sometimes the driver does not work at all after installing. HDMI audio on nVidia can also cause problems.
I don't think it's a good idea to buy an old video card!
I would buy for $100 a nvidia gts 450 with a good cooler!! (or rather a gtx 460 or 550 ti if you mant to spend a little bit more money)
The gts 250 is not a good idea. The opencl / cuda performance is also crap compared to fermi.
I don't care about using three monitors, I already stated that I wanted to use this card with a 17" 1280x1024 D-Sub monitor, and nothing more.
GPGPU uses are irrelevant at the moment, and buying a $100 card is out of budget given the added shipping and import cost (topic is Best card for under $100). About the power, we have a 450W Thermaltake PSU, so the 250 won't be a problem here.
There's no reason to stay away from the geforce 250 just because of its age. It is powerful enough for you, still supported by the latest proprietary drivers, consumes much less power and has better open-source driver support (though the latest point won't make much sense for you).
As I mentioned before, I got used gtx260sp216 with 1792gb gddr3 for 70€ incl shipping. Thats 2x-2.5x performance of 9800.
The newer 400/500 are more energy efficient, but their core/mem frequency scaling is not implemented and they have very funny nvidia-made slowdown in specific opengl code, making card behave slower 8800.
Nvidia apparently desided that opengl is reserved for quattro and decided to castrate the driver, saying its card problems. I heared there is a workaround via cuda code.
Other than this 400/500 is definitely way to go(if you accept nvidia), except <460/560.
The card, while using above average power in idle, scales, has video acceleration and provides all 3d performance. I have not tested double dvi outputs (i dont need them).
On Amd, the open drivers do not deliver full performance, but the basic and middle gaming is covered with semi-opengl3. They have a bit more bugs in 3d, but are faster in 2d.
I dont like proprietary amd at all, people report its improved, but I dont like open/close simbitism because the closed driver looses to nvidia(the advantage/disadvantage field is very spread one, not definite), but open driver is deemed to be like second class. Of course, if you do not use discrete card for 3d, open driver possibly will cover your needs.
If you are into gaming on linux, nvidia. This includes wine. If you want to improve opensource or closed source amd driver, this means sometimes having problems (instead of working state, especially in newer hardware) and helping correct them - use amd. Sad or not, this is current behavior of companies.
We got the GTS 250, we got an used one here so it could cost only $75 (importing it would cost us about $99). Natty bugs aside (like Jockey not reporting the proprietary driver is in use), the card is working wonderfully.