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Is Windows 7 Actually Faster Than Ubuntu 10.04?

Michael Larabel

Published on 3 May 2010
Written by Michael Larabel
Page 3 of 11 - 169 Comments

Right from the start the Nexuiz test was interesting. This multi-platform, open-source game that runs atop the DarkPlaces engine did the best at all resolutions on some systems with Windows 7 and other systems with Ubuntu 10.04. The NVIDIA ION NetTop with an Atom 330 processor was faster on Ubuntu 10.04 LTS when run at 800 x 600 and 1024 x 768, but when pushed to 1280 x 1024 and higher it turned to Microsoft's advantage by a small margin. In Microsoft's advantage was the AMD Phenom 9500 system (PX4) with the ATI Radeon HD 5770 graphics card where it narrowly beat out Ubuntu 10.04, but by two frames per second or less in each case. Meanwhile, the Athlon II X3 system (AX3) with Radeon HD 4670 graphics was slightly faster at each resolution, which is showing there is more or less feature parity between the Linux and Windows Catalyst drivers at least with this intensive open-source game. Results for the 1400 x 1050 resolution are not available as under Microsoft Windows 7 it would end up mode-setting to 800 x 600 rather than the requested resolution at this stepping for whatever reason with both the ATI and NVIDIA drivers.

Definitely in Microsoft's favor was the Intel Core i3 system (CI3) with its integrated Clarkdale graphics. As we reported early, the Intel Linux graphics driver is the real loser in these tests where it is easily and always clobbered by the Intel Windows. While the Intel Linux graphics driver is open-source and has made great strides over the past quarters with kernel mode-setting, a new 2D acceleration architecture (UXA), in-kernel memory management (GEM), a migration to DRI2, and other improvements, its performance is a joke. The Clarkdale system was playable at 800 x 600 through 1280 x 1024 with Nexuiz, but even at 800 x 600, the open-source Intel graphics driver used by Ubuntu 10.04 LTS put out just six frames per second.

When running at 1920 x 1080, the Clarkdale i3 530 graphics were 11.35 times faster under Windows 7 than in Linux! Ubuntu 10.04 LTS is using a stabilized Intel graphics driver stack and not the very latest bleeding-edge DRM/Mesa, but still, it is unlikely we will see Intel's Linux graphics driver recoup any of these major performance losses anytime soon as they are not even committed to switching to the Gallium3D architecture that is faster than the classic Mesa DRI drivers.

Meanwhile, the Intel Core i7 system with the NVIDIA GeForce 9800GTX running Ubuntu 10.04 beat-out Windows 7 each time (ignore the highlighting on this system's run, it was a coloring bug in PTS) and by a rather significant margin. Lastly, the lone workstation system in this Windows vs. Linux testing was about even with this OpenGL game.

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