serious

Please aid the perplexed: graphics cards

I'm considering reboarding my PC - or, rather, I'm considering whether now is the time to reboard my PC. I think I'm fine about most of the components I'd need, but when it comes to graphics cards I know absolutely fuck nothing about anything that's happened since a nice fast SVGA was state-of-the-art.

I'm not desperately in need of a rocket-propelled games card. It's unlikely ever to come into contact with Billyware, so DirectX performance is a matter of supreme indifference (although feel free to mention it in case it's of interest to my other regular reader). Most of the time all I want is a flat 2000*1500 screen with the normal 24-bit colour depth under Debian, although I will want to use OpenGL now and again. Not needing its own three-phase supply would be nice.

Any notions?

Many thanks.
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Have you contemplated buying a mac?

he he

In all seriousness, what bus is this card to go on?
AGP, PCI-X?
Have you contemplated buying a mac?

Not a bad idea in principle, but I'm not looking to throw that much money at the problem at the moment.

In all seriousness, what bus is this card to go on?

As it's part of a reboarding, almost certainly PCI-E. I have an AGP already, which does most but not all the above.
Nvidia 8XXX are the way to go at the moment - 8800GTX being just about top of the league I believe.

Although apparently the new ATIs are supposed to be quite good.
Traditionally the ATIs weren't as good under Linux. That may well have changed - I haven't been paying so much attention.

For the sort of thing I mentioned, would there be much point me going past an 8400 or 8500, do you think? And have you any idea how they compare to something like a 7600?
ATI have recently opened up their specs, so there's the promise of good open-source drivers in the future. NB: that's very much in the future - right now you can use their lousy binary driver or a feature-light open one.

If you're buying a new motherboard, why not get one with Intel integrated graphics? Open driver, runs Compiz et al just fine, although it's hard to find a mobo with a DVI socket for some insane reason.

If that won't suit, I'd go for the cheapest fanless NVidia since their driver at least works. For non-gaming use, and card will be complete overkill anyway.
The only thing I can think of that I've already tried to run that need OpenGL are Google Earth and Flightgear - do you reckon a 30-pound 8400gs would cover those bases?
I don't have a cheap Nvidia, but Google Earth runs just fine on this laptop with Intel integrated, and I'd be amazed if a cheap Nvidia wasn't several times more powerful than that.

I have just installed Flightgear and spent five minutes attempting to get my plane to move. The runway seemed to be rendered fine, but as the plane wasn't moving I couldn't judge the framerate...
Google Earth works just fine on my work 7600 using nVidia's own driver. (It broke fairly comically using on-board Intel graphics.) Haven't tried the other.
For your uses 8400 or 8500 should be fine, an 8500 GT is about the equivalent of a 7600 GT purely from a performance perspective. Personally I would always go for the newer cards simply for DX 10 / SM 4 / HD Video acceleration, but as you mentioned that's not an issue. You can get a 8400GS for under £30 now, and a 8500GT under £50, but sounds like you'll be good with an 8400GS.
Hint: get a passive one, since GPU fans tend to the noisy, and aftermarket fans are a pain.
Good point. Duly noted - thanks. I've never had a graphics card with a fan, so I wouldn't know without being told.
Indeed, and also unreliable so your graphics get flaky when the shitty little fan breaks after some months.
Solid-state cooling is the way to go there.
According to Tom's Hardware benchmarks [*], a 7600GT isn't that much slower (if at all, and in some cases slightly faster) than an 8600GT (though last time I looked, they're similarly priced anyway). But yes, these would probably be overkill, I agree with the other comments that lower end cards would be fine.

If you're re-motherboarding, what about using on-board graphics, as most motherboards seem to have them, which'd be cheaper and no extra fan? Even a common basic one like the Intel GMA 950 does fine if one isn't trying to play recent games. But I don't know what Linux support is like for these.

[*] Annoying the site currently seems down, but I have some benchmarks noted down from when I was looking for a new card recently.
For the spec you give a Geforce4 MX will do the trick (unless your mobo lacks an AGP slot, which it probably does if it's new)(. This is assuming that "use OpenGL now and again" doesn't mean "run the latest and greatest 3d games". If games are an issue the rule of thumb is take the age of the youngest game you want to play and pick a card that was cutting edge when that game was released. If you go with NVidia you may have to check that driver support hasn't been end of lifed for it.

Essentially my point is that 24/32bit at 2000x1500 wont tax any desktop GFX card released after 2000.
High-end games aren't likely enough for me to want to make allowance for them. I just fancy changing the six (or so) year old board and processor (that were distinctly average but good value at the time) with something a bit faster.
People have already covered the advice I would have given (incidentally, installing the closed-source version of the nVidia drivers is very very painless under Ubuntu, which I've just switched to from Debian - with any luck some of the admin tools will flow back in the other direction eventually).

I'm intrigued by the resolution - what screen is that?
Agree -- I had nothing but smooth experience with nvidia using ubuntu but I don't know how this crosses into debian land. ATI on the other hand has been a world of hurt and I consider myself pretty reasonable with linux. It's bad enough that I have to go through a ten minute procedure and five minutes "how do I do that procedure, procedure" every time the kernel is patched.

This is enough to make me consider ditching my current ATI for an equivalent spec nvidia and paying to do so.
What they said, really. A m/b with integrated graphics will very probably do what you want (this one with a NVidia 6150 happily runs both Google Earth and Flightgear) and if it doesn't, a card that will is cheap.

You only need to spend silly money if you want to run the latest Windows games.