Nvidia GTX 750ti - Linux Review.

Review is a strong term for the ranty opinions that I often inflict upon the  reader but none the less, review is what I will be calling it, until that is the term “RantView” becomes a thing. Even though I am a gamer I am also a father. This means that upgrades for my computer take a back seat to new school uniforms and other such sensible things. My methodology for upgrades is simple, I buy the ‘stuff’ that gives me the most value per pound sterling as well as instant usability.

The thing that has been letting my computing experience down the most has been the rather shocking AMD support for Linux. I have been running an old ATI branded 5850 for a long time now, it served its purpose well and has always performed ‘okay’ in Windows.  Recently however the card was showing its age when playing newer games. I knew I wanted to upgrade to an NVIDIA card because of the far superior Linux/SteamOS support they offer.

After some time reading reviews and calculation how many pennies I could throw at my problem I was starting to settle on the idea of a GTX600 series card, until that is that I was pointed at the 750 series of cards. This series of cards was appealing to me for a few reasons.

  • A new architecture means the card will be supported for some time to come.
  • The 750 series is small, I’m planning on switching over to a smaller form factor machine in the very near future. picking a smaller card can only help me with this endeavour in the coming months.
  • Its cheap. coming in at just under £130 its a lot of bang for very little proverbial buck.

After some more research I settled on the Gigabyte ‘Windforce’ 750ti (2GB) the appeal of the Gigabyte unit over some other vendors was that Windforce cooler, a two fan design on a smaller card will produce very little sound and even when those fans do ramp up they should have a less annoying sound. The other perk is that its one of the few 750ti’s that has a power connector, meaning more overhead for overclocking.

I took a look around the internet and decided to go with Amazon as I could get that sweet next day delivery with my Prime membership. Sure enough it arrived in a timely fashion. I popped the little fella’ in the machine and after some tinkering with the legacy mode in my BIOS the card booted up like a champ.

My Windows install was a breeze. One of the few things that Windows does well is driver management. I’m not saying the drivers are any good but installing them is rarely an issue on newer hardware. Downloaded the Nvidia drivers, install, restart and Boom! Done!

Linux was not exactly changeling but took some additional steps.  Firstly in order to boot this card I had to add the ‘nomodeset’ command to my boot options, then as expected X failed to launch. I dropped out to the CLI and installed the NVIDIA 334.21 drivers from my repo. Once done, I restarted my machine and booted into X (gnome 3, if you are interested.) My monitors were both set to 1440 x 900 for some reason, I loaded the NVIDIA control panel and did some clicking, one reboot later I was up and running in glorious 1080.

Since installing the card, a little over a week ago I am happy with the performance. It idles as around 30 degrees centigrade at hits around 50 under load (a far cry away from the 90 degrees my old card hit) this has dropped the overall ambient temperature of my system my a about 3 degrees even under load. Games run smooth at 1080 and WINE performance is about 40% better than what I have come to expect on my old card, I even played Diablo 3 for an hour with no issues at all. Native Linux games are really smooth and I feel like I’m running on a pretty respectable gaming platform. Even the legendarily (no, way legendarily IS a word) flaky Natural Selection 2 runs with zero issues and is silky smooth.

With my AMD/ATI card I had strange errors crop up all the time in games, for a week a while back Coach had a green head in L4D2. DOTA2 had random black triangles showing on the menu. With the Nvidia card all of these problems are gone, as expected. I can’t say for sure that it was the AMD drivers or the age of my card but with this new one my computing and gaming experiences are exactly as even as I expect from a modern OS.

I would like to point out for the people on a release based distro that only the 334.21 driver currently support the chip-set on this card so you should line up those PPA’s (or whatever you people do) before you install the hardware. I would feel bad for you but that’s what you get for running a none Arch based distro :P (ah, the arrogance of the Arch user!) - I’m looking at you Ubuntu! - all that said, now maybe a good time to try SteamOS again.


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