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4 Best Low-end GPUs for Linux Users in 2021 (Buying Guide)

Are you in need of a good, low-power graphics card for your Linux PC? Not sure what to get to use on your Linux system? If this sounds like you, you’ve come to the right place! Follow along with us as we go over the 4 best low-end graphics cards for Linux users!

GPU support on Linux

GPU support on Linux isn’t what it is on Microsoft Windows. Due to Linux being used by fewer people than Windows, the GPU manufacturers (AMD and NVIDIA) spend significantly less time developing drivers for the platform. 

Yes, Linux users can typically find support for most mainstream GPUs out there today, but the support isn’t always good. For this reason, it’s a good idea to pick a GPU that has support from the open-source community, as they typically fill the gaps where Nvidia and AMD fall short.

All of the GPUs we cover in this list have support with open-source GPU drivers, as well as proprietary drivers. Since they support both types of drivers, the GPU you purchase will live on with Linux for as long as possible. 

For more information on how to get started with Nvidia or AMD drivers on your Linux system, please check out the list of links below. 

The best low-end GPU for Linux

A lot is made about expensive graphics cards these days, even on Linux. It is understandable, but what if you just need a low-end graphics card for basic functionality on Linux? Sadly, the low-end GPU market isn’t as lucrative, and as a result, many Linux users don’t know what to buy.

Not to worry! We’ve got you covered! Here are our picks for the best low-end GPUs to use on Linux!

1. ZOTAC GeForce GT 1030

The ZOTAC GeForce GT 1030 is our top pick for the best low-profile GPU to use on Linux.

Why? For starters, it is well supported on Linux through both open-source drivers and open-source ones too. It also packs some impressive features, like support for high-end screen resolutions of 7680×4320, fast video ram, and more.

Pros

  • The GPU has support for multiple monitors via HDMI and DVI-D.
  • The latest Nvidia Linux drivers list this device as supported, and should be supported for the foreseeable future.
  • The low profile bracket allows for the PNY GeForce GT 1030 to fit into tight PC cases.
  • The GPU has 2 GBs of video RAM clocked at  1227 MHz. It can boost up to 1468 MHz.
  • The GPU supports a maximum resolution of 7680 x 4320.

Cons

  • It has no support for display port or VGA on the device, which may be a deal-breaker with those using non HDMI or DVI-D displays.

2. MSI GeForce GT 710

Another excellent choice of low-profile GPU for Linux users to check out is the MSI GeForce GT 710. It has 2 GBs of video memory clocked at 1600 Mhz, supports triple monitors at a maximum resolution of 4096×2160, and has support on Linux via official Nvidia drivers and open-source ones.

It’s also very slim, and can fit just about anywhere!

Pros

  • The MSI GeForce GT 710 has 2 GBs of video memory clocked at 1600 Mhz.
  • Has triple monitor support by way of DVI-D, HDMI, and VGA.
  • The latest Nvidia drivers support this device, and it should enjoy support for the foreseeable future.
  • The form factor is low profile so the MSI GeForce GT 710 will fit into even the tightest of PC cases.
  • HDMI supports a resolution of up to  4096 x 2160, DVI 560 x 1600.

Cons

  • The device uses DDR3 rather than the standard GDDR5 or newer, which might translate into slower performance.

3. XFX RX 550

If Nvidia isn’t your style and you need a good low-profile GPU, the XFX RX 550 is a great option.

It offers triple monitor support (HDMI, Display Port, and DVI-D) at 4096×2160, has 2 GB of video ram clocked at 1203 Mhz, and works well on Linux of the box without the need to install drivers thanks to AMD’s open-source drivers.

Pros

  • The GPU offers triple monitor support via HDMI, Display Port, and DVI-D.
  • Has 2 GB of DDR5 video RAM, clocked at 1203MHz.
  • It supports a maximum resolution of 4096×2160.
  • Enjoys support on Linux from within the kernel itself, with no need to install anything, thanks to AMD’s open-source drivers.
  • Dual fans on the GPU offer superior cooling while doing heavy tasks.

Cons

  • The huge form factor makes it a tight fight on small PCs.
  • Open source AMD GPU drivers, while excellent, aren’t as performant as Nvidia drivers while gaming in some instances.
  • Triple monitor support is all digital and has no support for VGA, which means older monitors will not work with it.

4. Sapphire Radeon Pulse RX 550

Want a slim low-powered GPU but don’t want to sacrifice performance to get there? If so, do yourself a favor and take a look at the Sapphire Radeon Pulse RX 550. I

t’s an impressive GPU that packs a punch with things like triple monitor support (maximum resolution of 5120×2880,) as well as 2 GB of supercharged 1500 Mhz video RAM, and support for Linux out of the box!

Pros

  • Has 2 GB of video RAM clocked at 1500 MHz.
  • Triple monitor support via Display Port, HDMI, and DVI-D.
  • Low profile design allows for easy fitting into packed computers and Linux workstations.
  • It is supported on the Linux platform via the open-source AMD GPU drivers built into the Linux kernel, with no need to install anything.
  • The GPU supports a maximum resolution of 5120×2880.

Cons

  • The open-source AMD drivers can perform worse than the Nvidia drivers while gaming on Linux in some cases.
  • While the device supports three monitors, it does not include VGA support, which means older monitors will not work.

Conclusion

In this list, we went over the 4 best low-end GPUs to use on Linux. Each of the GPUs we discussed is excellent in their ways, and undoubtedly worthy of picking up.

If you’ve been struggling to find an affordable, low-powered graphics card to power your Linux workstation, we hope that this list has helped you make the right decision!

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