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Phoronix Test Suite

OpenBenchmarking.org

Ubuntu Linux Gaming Performance Mostly On Par With Windows 8.1

Michael Larabel

Published on 27 October 2013
Written by Michael Larabel
Page 1 of 7 - 49 Comments

Given the recent release of Microsoft Windows 8.1, at Phoronix we took 13 different AMD Radeon and NVIDIA GeForce graphics cards and compared the performance between Ubuntu Linux and Windows 8.1 with the same hardware and set of OpenGL games/benchmarks. For AMD and NVIDIA graphics cards with their official drivers, the performance is largely similar between the competing desktop operating systems but there are some performance exceptions.

As mentioned a few days back, given Microsoft's Windows 8.1 update there will be new Windows vs. Linux benchmarks and the first article I have ready is the Windows 8.1 vs. Ubuntu Linux performance comparison with an assortment of AMD Radeon and NVIDIA GeForce graphics cards spanning multiple generations and low and high-end GPUs.

The graphics cards being tested under each operating system included:

- NVIDIA GeForce 9800GT
- NVIDIA GeForce GT 240
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460
- NVIDIA GeForce GT 520
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 550 Ti
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680
- AMD Radeon HD 5830
- AMD Radeon HD 6770
- AMD Radeon HD 6870
- AMD Radeon HD 6950
- AMD Radeon HD 7850
- AMD Radeon HD 7950
- AMD Radeon R9 270X

The selection of graphics cards used was limited to modern GPUs that we have available at Phoronix. The system where all these graphics cards were tested under each operating system was based around an Intel Core i7 4770K "Haswell" processor with ECS Z87H3-A2X EXTREME motherboard, 16GB of RAM, and 240GB OCZ Vertex 3 SSD.

When it came to running Linux, Ubuntu 13.04 x86_64 stable was in use with the mainline Linux 3.10 kernel (3.11/3.12 couldn't be used since the latest clean NVIDIA binary driver doesn't support these kernels without being patched). The NVIDIA driver was the 331.13 Beta and the AMD driver was Catalyst 13.11 Beta with fglrx 13.20.6.

On the Windows side, a clean install of Microsoft Windows 8 Pro x64 was upgraded to Windows 8.1 and was using the NVIDIA 331.58 WHQL driver and AMD Catalyst 13.11 Beta.

Results including the open-source AMD Radeon / NVIDIA GeForce (Nouveau) graphics drivers in this comparison mix will come in a later Phoronix article in the coming days, this article is just using the "official" binary drivers. A later article will also look at the Linux vs. Windows 8.1 Intel "Haswell" graphics performance too.

Previous Phoronix testing yielded Windows 8 Beats Ubuntu Linux For Intel "Haswell" OpenGL, NVIDIA's Linux Driver On Ubuntu Is Very Competitive With Windows 8, and AMD Gallium3D & Catalyst Drivers Compete Against Windows.

All benchmarking under Windows 8.1 and Ubuntu Linux for this OpenGL game benchmarking was handled in a fully automated and reproducible manner using the open-source Phoronix Test Suite software. The selection of Windows / Linux games used were those that have native binaries for each operating system of similar quality and serve well for automated/reproducible testing: see Finally, Team Fortress 2 Benchmarks For Phoronix for some more details.

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