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· Watercooler
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573 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
To the point:
Leaving Windows.
Linux novice.
Need a new laptop.

Go with AMD over Nvidia with Linux?
Fine to go with Nvidia as long as I stay with purpose built distros like Pop!_OS and Tuxedo?
I have it all wrong and Nvidia is good to go with Linux?
 

· Linux Lobbyist
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3,745 Posts
@OP

The most seamless experience as far as drivers is concerned is AMD, literally plug 'n' play. I recently upgraded from a Vega 56 to a 5700XT and it was literally no more than a hardware swap. I have had nVidia in the past (pretty much from early 2000s all the way to 2018) and have had issues when upgrading the driver; regularly one of the Xorg library files wasn't soft-linked correctly and the desktop environment failed to load. I'm guessing that has been resolved with later distros though - I was using Gentoo then Linux Mint; nowadays I use KDE Neon.

As far as beyond-basic stuff is concerned (i.e. beyond gaming and watching videos) it will depend on your use case. For stuff like Machine Learning/Deep Learning, NVIDIA wins hands down; same again for professional applications like 3D rendering, CAD and video production. AMD is getting there for support in these applications but NVIDIA is the big dog in this arena.

Specifically regarding laptops, if you choose a laptop with an AMD CPU (and it has a discrete AMD GPU in addition to the one built into the CPU), then you'll need to look into the switching between the two when gaming. I have never used a laptop with a discrete GPU so I have no idea how such a configuration behaves under Linux.
 

· Registered
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The most seamless experience as far as drivers is concerned is AMD, literally plug 'n' play. I recently upgraded from a Vega 56 to a 5700XT
Pretty much this. AMD has open source firmware that is already built into every Linux kernel which is driving my decision to purchase a AMD card when ever that day comes. NVIDIA several months ago is now allowing open source drivers for their cards now but I think only for the 3xxx series and up but anything older then that, you have to use their DKMS which sometimes can get messy or have a major regression. The open source drivers are petty much in beta and it is going to take time to get them polished as AMD's. I have heard some issues using Wayland and NVIDIA versus Xorg but this more a Fedora thing since they use it by default.

Distros like PopOS and others makes dealing with NVIDIA DKMS easy for people new to Linux.

Specifically regarding laptops, if you choose a laptop with an AMD CPU (and it has a discrete AMD GPU in addition to the one built into the CPU), then you'll need to look into the switching between the two when gaming.
There are tools out there for AMD cards to make it easy to switch between the iGPU and the AMD GPU. I have a 4800MQ laptop with a older AMD GPU and have not tired these tools but for Steam, you can basically setup a custom command at launch to force the use of the discrete GPU; This is what I do which works for me. Other then that it stays asleep.
 

· Registered
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I use both AMD and nVidia extensively in Linux (mostly nVidia, because of CUDA) and if you want the least pain in terms of setup, updates etc... yes, AMD is the way to go. Their open source driver is excellent.

nVidia recently began the process of open sourcing some of their driver. Installing the nVidia drivers used to be a bit of a PITA, but it's improved a lot in the last few years and now can be as simple as install and reboot. Occasionally, the drivers will get stuck with an update, but that is usually when CUDA has a big update, which is a whole different kettle of fish.

If you just want to game, AMD is probably the easiest route. If you want to do any GPGPU work (even just to play around) AMD really can't seem to get their act together.
 

· Watercooler
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573 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thank you all for the feedback. I went with an all AMD laptop and will try several distros to see what I like.

Delayed response due to changing my email. For some reason doing so blocked my ability to interact. Had to wait for admin to fix it.
 

· Linux Lobbyist
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@OP

Good stuff. :D Which model did you get?
 

· Watercooler
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
@OP

Good stuff. :D Which model did you get?
After verify full TDP/full performance availability, I went with the Lenovo Legion 7 with the 6900H and RX 6850M XT.
 

· Linux Lobbyist
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After verify full TDP/full performance availability, I went with the Lenovo Legion 7 with the 6900H and RX 6850M XT.
That looks like a really nice system. :D I'll be honest, if I can find an AMD CPU/GPU combo in a form factor similar to my current Dell XPS 13", I'll jump on that in a heartbeat.
 

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That looks like a really nice system. :D I'll be honest, if I can find an AMD CPU/GPU combo in a form factor similar to my current Dell XPS 13", I'll jump on that in a heartbeat.
In a 13" laptop, I think it's currently just APUs. The Lenovo Z13 looks rather tasty (I really like the Trackpoint) but that price...
 

· Linux Lobbyist
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@Paradigm Shifter

Yeah, come to think of it, that form factor might be a little too thin and too light to support a discrete GPU. Pity.
 

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· 10 year OCN Vet
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I've been using nvidia cards on Linux as my Main (Daily Driver) for over 20 years. These days most distros simply default to the open source nouveau driver assuming the system detects an nvidia GPU (may vary on dual GPU systems). This is fine for 2D work and some low acceleration level 3d work. Nvidia's excellent proprietary driver is very easy to install whether you use the distro provided packages or download direct from nvidia and employ the NVIDIA-foo.run script installer. The script requires either a fully qualified kernel source or kernel-headers be installed, but packages cover all those bases.

Personally, I've always used the NVIDIA-foo.run installer because I like complete control over the installation and edit my "xorg.conf" file to manage all the options possible including "coolbits" that makes mild performance gains and fan control possible. I do use the nouveau driver on a secondary box I use as a server with an older GPU. I'm still using a GTX 1070 Ti on my main and for reference sake,. I get 98 FPS average on SOTR at near Ultra settings @ 2560x1440.

Version 6 kernels will soon include nvidia's new FOSS driver, however it is my understanding that driver will only support GPUs new enough to include Ray Tracing support. In 2022 AMD GPUs are often a better bang for the buck but for raw, top performance, nvidia still rules.
 

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My last few laptops have been nVidia powered. For the most part, nVidia is not too bad to deal with. Right now my laptop is a Lenovo Legion 5 with an RTX3060 mobile GPU in it. My distro is Fedora and getting the drivers installed was a 2 min thing. The only distro I would not recommend is vanilla Debian. The lag in the repository kind of sucks for gaming machines or just newer hardware in general. Anything Arch based, like Manjaro, will be on the bleeding edge for kernels and packages. Fedora is a nice balance. Not as bleeding edge as Arch making it a lot more stable. But, far newer kernels and packages than most other distros.

As others have said, AMD is the easiest way to go for sure, but do not be too scared of nVidia. If you have the aptitude to make the jump over to Linux to start with, dealing with nVidia wont be any real issue for you. Just find tutorials and ask questions as needed.
 
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