Even when comparing the two drivers clock-for-clock, the NVIDIA driver is taking the cake. This was a different story in past months where clock-for-clock, Nouveau could compete with NVIDIA's driver. However, since those earlier Linux GPU benchmarks, NVIDIA's Linux crew made significant performance optimizations to their Linux driver because of Valve's Source Engine coming to Linux. The NVIDIA driver optimizations can't be matched by the Nouveau driver, so even for old NVIDIA GeForce GPUs, they handedly lose on open-source. The GeForce 9 series is now a half-decade old and remains rather uncompetitive against NVIDIA's well-supported binary Linux driver. For any NVIDIA GPU owners running Linux, the binary driver is really the only viable option for those demanding maximum performance, the greatest power efficiency, and feature-set. This, unfortunately, is unlikely to change much in 2013.
Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.