ATI radeon vs. Nvidia cards

I recently had a laptop burnup and after some research it is very likely due to some Nvidia issues, so I am researching ATI cards (I don’t want to give Nvidia my business).

For instance, Dell’s alienware basic model comes with:
Dual 1GB GDDR5 ATI Radeon™ HD 5670 CrossfireX™ Enabled

To Nvidia’s credit, they had the latest drivers for linux. Can I expect the same with ATI. Also, what about opengl in general on the ATI cards?

I see the recent article on support, but would appreciate any testimonials.

Thanks in advance.

In the past, nvidia’s support for Linux was the best but in the last year or so ATI has really stepped up its efforts to maintain feature parity in its windows and linux drivers.

I can’t give specific answers for the card you are interested in however a good site to check that keeps tabs on linux driver performance for 3d hardware is Their forums might also provide some insight.

Careful. While NVidia only has OpenGL 3.3 drivers out (largely because they haven’t released their GL4/D3D11 boards yet), ATI has had OpenGL 4.0 drivers out for ~11 days (since their DX11 hardware is already out). Linux and Windows drivers both. NVidia sensibly is holding their GL4 drivers until folks actually have hardware to run it on.

As far as GL-Linux stability, ATI is improving by leaps and bounds, and the driver developers have been very responsive. We’re taking them for a spin again after years of focusing elsewhere. Working through some issues but we’re just getting started, and the GL4 drivers are beta drivers at this point.

What I’m hearing is that it IS NOT a ludicrous idea, then. But that I should do specific research on the cards (and maybe linux distro --which will be Fedora 12–).


Be advised that Ati drivers often do not support the newest Fedora release.

The problem with Fedora is that it always uses the newest kernel and xorg versions. Ati does not consider Fedora as an officially supported distro (at least not at the moment) and therefore you might have to wait until Ubuntu catches up to newer xorg/kernel versions before there is a driver that supports them. Often hacks are available to get the driver running, but in that case you are on your own.

Currently the highest supported kernel is 2.6.32 and the highest supported xorg version is 1.7 if I recall correctly (these are supported in the drivers that come with the Ubuntu 10.04 beta).

Personally (I am an Ubuntu user), I’m very satisfied with the driver support from AMD/Ati. As others have said, big leaps forward were made and I have some positive experiences submitting OpenGL bugs and getting helpful replies.

Thanks, Heiko. I’m not married to using Fedora 12, so I will take that into account and maybe choose an older Fedora or look at Ubuntu.