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Which rock solid low end stable AMD GPU for KDE ?
Bidinou commented on 10 February 2018 at 1:28 pm UTC

Hi everyone !

Been using NVIDIA cards for 20 years but now that I don't have so much time to play anymore, I grew fed up with the concessions I have to make. (no KDE Wayland, no proper open source driver, sub-optimal desktop performance compared to even a slow Intel HD GPU)

So I'd like to replace it with a cheap low-end AMD GPU. Here are my criterias :

- I don't care if it's slow (about the speed of a 1050 GTX or even slower, it's OK as long as I can play a couple of indie games)
- It should not require an additional PCI-E power connector
- It should be silent when idle
- It should work on current distros / kernels OUT OF THE BOX, no tweak, no proprietary driver...
- It should be absolutely stable & butter smooth on KDE Plasma (as it is with an old Intel GMA...)
- HDMI audio output should work as I use it to play audio on my amplifier

What about the RX 550 ? I saw threads recently and it seems there were still bugs...

Thanks a lot !!

Shmerl commented on 11 February 2018 at 5:37 am UTC

Sapphire RX 560 is quite decent. For audio you need to use kernel 4.15+ and enable amdgpu.dc=1 kernel parameter.

Bidinou commented on 11 February 2018 at 9:09 am UTC

Thanks for your reply, mate ! The question is : what do you mean by "quite decent" ? I mean, apart from performance in 3D games : what about the smoothness in KDE (constant 60 FPS as with Intel HD or occasional stuttering as with NVIDIA ?) and what about overall stability ? (does kwin restarts by itself sometimes)

Cheers !

Shmerl commented on 11 February 2018 at 1:32 pm UTC

KDE should have no effect on things, as long as you disable compositing (which normal fullscreen games do). With Wayland, it's a bit different. Stability is fine for all Polaris cards.

Bidinou commented on 11 February 2018 at 1:59 pm UTC

Hi ! I agree ! But let me rephrase my initial question :

I'm not looking for a card especially good for gaming (my nvidia works flawlessly) but for a card that would be decent for gaming but make the desktop effects absolutely smooth, which is not the case with nvidia cards on kde with proprietary drivers contrary to even very slow intel hd or open source nvidia drivers. It's ok but not perfectly constantly smooth. it feels inconsistent.

cheers !

Shmerl commented on 11 February 2018 at 2:02 pm UTC

Mesa with AMD works perfectly in KDE. No tearing or anything the like. You'll see clear improvement from Nvidia. Make sure to use most recent Mesa in general.

Bidinou commented on 11 February 2018 at 2:05 pm UTC

Nice, that's what I wanted to hear
I wonder if those cards are supported when using the Ubuntu HWE (hardware enablement stack.

does your Rx560 require an additional pci-e power supply ? do you get crashes related to drivers ?


Shmerl commented on 11 February 2018 at 2:48 pm UTC

I use primarily RX 480, but I have an extra computer with RX 460. They both use additional PCIe power connector. That's normal for good discreet cards. If your power supply doesn't support it, I recommend getting a better PSU. It's really worth it.

Bidinou commented on 11 February 2018 at 3:34 pm UTC

actually I already have a 1060 gtx that uses an additional connector. I could barely close my case because of it, it's a specific amplifier like form factor.

Anyway I'd get a 550 for desktop use + casual indie games. thanks !

Traversy commented on 16 February 2018 at 5:30 am UTC

I upgraded to an RX 560 from a GTX 460. I'd recommend it coming from that generation nvidia card, but half my games needed to be modified or updated to run. KDE Wayland is overrated, I launched into it and was immediately turned off by the huge mouse cursor. Is that a bug?. I couldn't easily get it any smaller so I hopped back to regular x11 plasma kde. I'd rather use LxQt than have a comically huge cursor.

Good news though:
- Plymouth (splash screen) is working again!
- Compositor seems a lot more stable, it used to crash occasionally.
- Video acceleration is still generally working I guess? I'm not sure how to tell for sure.
- No more waiting for the nvidia driver to compile for the new kernel every time you upgrade.
- No tearing in the web browser without having to turn on force full pipeline composition

I don't know if the desktop experience is any smoother though. I'd say it's about the same.
I'm not sure if the compositor is actually more stable, I've only had it for a week.
Compiz does still have a long delay the first time I activate it in a session for virtual desktop switching.

Also idle power consumption between a GTX 1060 and RX 550 can't be that different. Are you sure it's worth it? You give up CUDA if you ever need that.

Bidinou commented on 16 February 2018 at 8:34 am UTC

Hi ! Thanks so much for the detailed report !

1) regarding the current state of KDE Wayland, there are rough edges (like a couple of missing features : workspace switcher plasmoid, windows thumbnails in task manager...) but it seems quite stable. Regarding your mouse pointer issue, here is the workaround : system configuration -> workspace appearance -> mouse pointer theme -> at the right bottom corner, force the pointer size to 24. I eventually temporarily dropped the Wayland session because I couldn't use my "^" modifier key (French keyboard) which is super annoying when you don't write in English :-)

2) oh, so the desktop is not as smooth with AMD cards as it is with Intel HD chipsets ? For instance, there is one obvious effect that tends to lag on NVIDIA : the desktop grid. Actually, if you trigger it several times in a row it's butter smooth. But the first time it's laggy. It's a good indicator I guess. Without the force pipeline option, there are way more animations that stutter.

3) I guess I'll wait a little more before switching then. For some reasons, the RX 460 is currently not that cheap (120€-140€). Which means I'll gain almost no money by selling back my 1060, which is according to benchmarks more than twice as fast.

4) OFF-TOPIC : does anyone know the difference in terms of actual result between "force pipeline" and "force full pipeline" ? I noticed that, as I use a dual screen in mirror mode, I'd have to apply "force pipeline" to both screens ; I don't know if it has consequences over applying the option to only one of the screeens.

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