There's been many requests to run some new OpenGL and 2D performance benchmarks under different Linux desktop environments. With the imminent release of Linux Mint 17 and it shipping the latest version of the increasingly-popular Cinnamon Desktop Environment, here's a six-way desktop performance comparison using Intel graphics on Linux Mint 17.
Six of the most common Linux desktop environments available through the Linux Mint 17 / Ubuntu 14.04 LTS archive were used for benchmarking. These desktops included Cinnamon 2.2.9, GNOME Shell 3.10.4, KDE 4.13.0, Xfce 4.10, MATE 1.8.0, and LXDE 0.6.1. The desktop packages were obtained from the Linux Mint 17 archive, testing happened last week from the Linux Mint 17 Release Candidate, and the default settings of each platform were used during the benchmarking process as a representative "out of the box" experience for Ubuntu/Mint users.
All six desktops were tested from an ASUS Zenbook Prime UX32VDA laptop/ultrabook with an Intel Core i7 3517U processor having HD Graphics 4000 "Ivy Bridge" class graphics. Linux Mint 17 ships with the Linux 3.13 kernel, X.Org Server 1.15.1, xf86-video-intel 2.99.910, and Mesa 10.1.0 providing OpenGL 3.3 support for the Intel driver. Via the Phoronix Test Suite a range of 2D and OpenGL benchmarks were run on this ultrabook when trying out the Cinnamon / GNOME Shell / KDE / Xfce / MATE / LXDE desktop environments. The LXQt desktop environment wasn't tested since it wasn't packaged for Linux Mint 17 in its main archive.