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A few months ago I tried a Radeon HD 4650 AGP. It did not go very well - the fglrx (blob) driver crashed randomly and the ati (open-source) driver crashed when attempting to run most 3D apps.
That's just my own experience, I'm sure others will post their success stories. I, personally, am sticking with Nvidia for now. My 7800GS AGP and GT430 PCIe are working nicely with the nvidia blob drivers.
I have a friend using the Radeon 5870 with the Catalyst-10.8 driver. He swears by it. This is on Slackware64-13.1. That said, if I remember correctly, he had to custom compile a newer kernel, but I don't remember why.
I have a Radeon HD3200 in my laptop. I have never had any problems with the open source radeondriver and with the fglrx driver from the Debian repositories. Never tried to install the driver from their website.
I have not tested the latest fglrx from the last time I tested. I tested it a few years ago using Sabayon. A lot of people still have issues. If you are thinking of getting an AMD graphics card, only use the open source drivers which is from Xorg. You do lose the capability for video playback using the video card when using either fgrlx or radeon. Sure fglrx can be use with XvBA, but only a few models are supported and they have issues. The best support using AMD graphics is to use Xorg radeon drivers. The following is a list of supported features using the Xorg radeon driver.
I've been using ATI cards for years. Currently I'm using this: ATI Technologies Inc RV710 [Radeon HD 4350]. I believe my previous card was a Radeon 9550. Up until around 3-4 years ago I had to use ATI's proprietary fglrx drivers to get 3D acceleration but then suddenly the open source xorg drivers started working and fglrx was no longer necessary and I use xorg's "radeon" driver. I'm very happy with the ATI cards and have not had any issues with them (at least none that I've noticed).