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Linux Can Deliver A Faster Gaming Experience Than Mac OS X

Michael Larabel

Published on 10 December 2010
Written by Michael Larabel
Page 1 of 2 - 18 Comments

Earlier this week on Phoronix were new benchmarks of Ubuntu Linux vs. Mac OS X using a new Apple Mac Book Pro with an Intel Core i5 CPU and a NVIDIA GeForce GT 330M graphics processor. When looking at the tests results overall it ended up being a competitive race between these two Microsoft Windows competitors. In some areas, like the OpenCL computational performance, Apple's operating system commanded a sizable lead. In other areas, like the OpenGL graphics performance, Ubuntu Linux backed by NVIDIA's official but proprietary driver was in control. Here's an additional set of tests showing the measurable leads of NVIDIA Linux over Mac OS X with Apple's NVIDIA driver.

This article has four OpenGL gaming tests that are native to both platforms and with each game they were run at 800 x 600, 1024 x 768, 1280 x 1024, 1400 x 1050, 1680 x 1050, and 1920 x 1080. The same hardware and software configurations were used, with the Mac Book Pro having a 2.4GHz Intel Core i5 520M CPU, 4GB of DDR3-1066MHz system memory, a 320GB Hitachi HTS54503 SATA HDD, and NVIDIA GeForce GT 330M graphics. This is a 2010 15-inch Mac Book Pro and during testing it was connected to an ASUS 1080p LCD display. The software side was a comparison between Mac OS X 10.6.5 and Ubuntu 10.10 with the Linux 2.6.35 kernel, X.Org Server 1.9.0, and NVIDIA's official 260.19.06 display driver that can be found in the Ubuntu Maverick package repository. Run via the Phoronix Test Suite were Nexuiz, Warsow, OpenArena, and Urban Terror.

The open-source Nexuiz game was CPU-bound so the frame-rate was virtually unchanged when increasing the resolution up to 1920 x 1080, but as you can see, with this game NVIDIA's official Linux driver was 66% faster than Apple's official NVIDIA Mac OS X driver on the same hardware.

When looking at the Qfusion-powered Warsow game, there was a much more noticeable difference in performance between the two operating systems when looking at the frame-rate at lower resolutions, but even at 1920 x 1080, Ubuntu still came out ahead. Ubuntu 10.10 with the NVIDIA 260 driver was 24% faster on average in this test.

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