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A 14-Way Comparison Of NVIDIA vs. Nouveau Drivers

Michael Larabel

Published on 9 November 2011
Written by Michael Larabel
Page 14 of 24 - 21 Comments

Running Warsow offers the first glimpse at the 13 graphics cards under both drivers. However, the GeForce 6600GT was too unstable for any OpenGL tests, the GeForce 8400GS could not burst two or three FPS (the binary driver on this hardware managed just 13 FPS), the GeForce 8500GT was unstable, there was the aforementioned GeForce GT 240 mode-setting / corruption issues, and the GeForce GTX 550 Ti lock-ups.

For the NVIDIA graphics cards that worked on both Nouveau and the closed-source driver, it was similar to earlier Nouveau tests in that generally it is the low to mid-range graphics cards that do the best relative to the binary blob. With some cards the performance of the community-developed NVIDIA driver is over 50% the speed of the official driver (e.g. the 8600GTS at 37 vs. 47 FPS and the GeForce 9500GT at 32 vs. 40 FPS), but with the higher-end graphics cards the difference was much more noticeable (e.g. 58 FPS vs. 214 FPS for the GeForce 9800GTX).

The Fermi-based GeForce GTX 460 did particularly bad with an average frame-rate in Warsow at 1920 x 1080 of 17 FPS on Nouveau vs. 277 FPS using the official driver. However, as already mentioned in the article, the "out of the box" Nouveau performance on Fermi GPUs is particularly bad due to the lack of re-clocking support at this time. Hopefully it will be fixed in an upcoming release, but that will not be until at least Linux 3.3 in mid-2012.

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