Old video card showdown in the Xubuntu Corral

Submitted by charm on Mon, 08/23/2021 - 21:26
MSI AMD Radeon HD 7950 3GB Twin Frozr III video card

Buying a new video card right now is extremely difficult. Even if you can afford the extremely inflated prices of modern video cards, they're still pretty rare. One option is to buy a low-end card like the GeForce GT 1030. But even GT 1030s are scarce in some areas. Another option is to look at the used market, but even the used market has become pretty ridiculous in some areas. Cards with 4 years of use are selling for the same price or more than they were when they were brand new. To give some perspective on the market our refurbishing project has seen exactly 1 x 4GB video card in the past 5 years come through our doors. Most of what we've had dropped off in the past 2 years have been systems with integrated graphics, very few discrete video cards. I grabbed a few of the better cards we had in the shop (along with a couple of stinkers) and decided to do a very general video benchmark under Xubuntu using the GLMark2 test.

The cards I tested were:

  • AMD Radeon HD 5770 1GB
  • AMD Radeon HD 6950 2GB
  • AMD Radeon HD 7950 3GB (MSI Twin Frozer III OC)
  • NVidia GeForce 210 1GB
  • NVidia GeForce GTX 660 2GB

I also tested my own NVidia GeForce GTX 650Ti Boost, but it was tested on my computer at home. All the rest of the cards were tested on the same system at work. The AMD cards were only tested using the Nouveau open source driver. I tested the NVidia GTX 660 with both the Nouveau open source driver and the proprietary NVidia driver. For the test I ran GLMark2 at 800x600, 1024x768, 1280x1024, and 1920x1080. While some cards were capable of running other resolutions I chose those 4 resolutions since all cards supported them. I did not test the Nvidia GeForce 210 card with the proprietary driver due to a bug which caused the proprietary driver not to install.

By far the best card was the MSI Twin Frozr AMD Radeon HD 7950 3GB. At 1920x1080 the Radeon 7950 scored 3935, a full 1608 points better than the NVidia GTX 660 with the proprietary NVidia driver. This was awesome to see a card with open source drivers beat out a card with proprietary drivers.

Old video card comparison
Almost all cards tested using the Nouveau driver (except where noted). GTX650Ti tested on different system.

Another interesting observation was how much better the GTX660 did compared to my GTX650Ti Boost at 1920x1080 while my 650Ti Boost beat the GTX660 at 800x600, 1024x768, and 1280x1024.

Perhaps the most interesting observation is how badly the GTX660 did using the Nouveau open source driver, it fared worse than the 1GB AMD Radeon HD 5770 at 800x600, 1024x768, and 1280x1024, and only edged it out by a little at 1920x1080.

The NVidia GT210 performance was the worst of all cards. Even at 800x600 it scored worse results than any other card had at 1920x1080 (keeping in mind the NVidia proprietary driver failed to install). I may try installing this driver using the command-line rather than the "drivers" installation program baked into Xubuntu.

Here are the results in chart form:

GLMark2 results at 800x600, 1024x768, 1280x1024, 1920x1080
The best overall card is clearly the MSI Twin Frozr Radeon HD 7950