NVidia Cards

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nVidia cards are generally a fine choice for use with Linux. There are many who would complain that the proprietary nature of the closed-source video driver is a handicap, but in practice nVidia has been very, very good about maintaining support for all their cards with minimal user effort required. Nvidia has released VDPAU, which in essence provides what PureVideo/DirectX Video Acceleration is on the Windows platform.

nVidia Chipset Feature Matrix

Note that nVidia makes the chips that drive the cards, but it is the choice of the OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) as to specifically which outputs a given card will have. The outputs listed in the chart represent the type of outputs typically found on a given product line. Don't order something blindly based on this chart if you need a specific output because these can differ from model to model.

The 7xxx series were the last models nVidia included support for X-Video Motion Compensation ( for MPEG-2 video) acceleration through the hardware. The 6xxx series of cards have the first chips nVidia has made which feature support for PureVideo (a more broadly-applicable form of accelleration which can be used for h.264 decoding in addition to MPEG-2) but unfortunately the nVidia proprietary driver does not support this at the present time. The 7xxx and higher models appear to be mostly PCI Express x16. The exception are some variants of Quadro cards (such as the Quadro NVS290) which exists in a PCIe x1 version, and some implementations of entry-level cards on PCI.

The chart below only lists native video outputs that may be available depending on the card manufacturer's feature selection. Note that most DVI outputs can be converted to HDMI with a reasonably inexpensive adapter.

Number Core Type Available Forms XvMC Composite S-Video Component VGA DVI HDMI VDPAU Support
5200 NV34 PCI, AGP Yes No No Yes Yes Yes No No
6200 NV44 PCI, AGP, PCIe Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes No No
6600 NV43 PCI, AGP Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes No No
7050 PV NV44 Integrated Yes No No No Yes Yes No No
7100 NV47/G70 Integrated, PCIe Some No Yes Yes Yes Yes No No
7200 G72 Integrated, PCIe Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes No No
8300 GS(*) G86 PCI Express No No Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes
8400 GS G98 (567Mhz core clock) PCI Express No No Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes (VC-1/MPEG/h.264)
8400 GS G86 (~450Mhz core clock) PCI Express No No Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes (MPEG/h.264 only)
8400M G/GS/GT G86M Integrated No ? ? ? ? ? ? probably
8500 GT G86 PCI Express No ? ? ? Yes Yes ? Yes
8600 GS/GT/GTS G84 PCI Express No ? ? ? Yes Yes ? Yes
8600M GS/GT G84M Integrated No ? ? ? ? ? ? probably
8700M GT G84M Integrated No ? ? ? ? ? ? probably
8800 GTX G80 PCI Express No ? ? ? Yes Yes ? NO
8800 Ultra G80 PCI Express No ? ? ? Yes Yes ? NO
8800 GS G92-150 PCI Express No ? ? ? Yes Yes ? Yes
8800 GT G92-200 PCI Express No ? ? ? Yes Yes ? Yes
8800 GTS G80 PCI Express No ? ? ? Yes Yes ? NO
8800 GTS G92-400 PCI Express No ? ? ? Yes Yes ? Yes
8800M GTS/GTX G92M Integrated No ? ? ? ? ? ? probably
  • - Not generally available as retail cards

Note: The above list is not a complete list by any means, and lacks mention of the oldest cards (MX440 and so forth) which makes the composite video output column somewhat useless. The main utility being that for the composite-output-only cards, a different 'nvtv' driver is usually needed. nVidia's "standard" driver will work fine for all manner of TV output with all cards newer than those.