Nouveau For A $10 NVIDIA Graphics Card?
Written by Michael Larabel in Graphics Cards on 26 January 2012. Page 13 of 13. 13 Comments

Ending off with Unigine Heaven at 1280 x 1024, the 9600GSO was pushing just 12 FPS, which was about the same speed as the GeForce GT 220. This speed was well ahead of the lower-end Radeon hardware, but obviously still far from being a pleasant experience for this demanding Linux-native game engine.

While the NVIDIA GeForce 9600GSO is several generations old, it is still not performing well within the modern Nouveau driver stack. This is with the Linux 3.2 kernel and Mesa 8.0, as will be found in the Ubuntu 12.04 Long-Term Support release. Hopefully with the Linux 3.4 kernel there will be performance improvements, but these changes will not become readily available to users until H2'2012 with Ubuntu 12.10, Fedora 18, etc.

In terms of the GeForce 9600GSO under the official-but-proprietary NVIDIA Linux driver, the performance of this mid-range GeForce 9 series GPU was in-line with other low-to-mid-range GeForce and Radeon GPUs. The GeForce 9600GSO is plenty fast enough to handle a composited Linux desktop, basic OpenGL use, and video playback. The GeForce 9600GSO is plenty fast enough for accelerated video playback when paired with NVIDIA's VDPAU support.

In regards to this graphics card being as cheap as $10 USD (or $20 after rebate, at the time of publishing), it's fine for being a budget graphics card if you're on the binary driver -- or the Nouveau driver if you carry hope for the future and don't mind a rough start with poor "out of the box" performance and lacking full GL3 support. The other big word of caution in regards to the XFX GeForce 9600GSO 512MB graphics card is that the stock fan is extremely obnoxious. Replacing the heatsink fan is necessary unless the PCI-E graphics card will be run within a fortified chassis or noise level is of no concern.

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Michael Larabel is the principal author of and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 20,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via

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