20-Way Radeon Comparison With Open-Source Graphics For Steam On Linux Gaming
When it comes to Linux gamers wanting a discrete graphics card backed by open-source drivers, the only solution right now to truly recommend for those serious about performance and making use of the hardware is really AMD Radeon graphics. While Nouveau has been making much progress, until re-clocking and other issues are worked out the performance can be unbearably slow depending upon the particular graphics processor or run into other problems. (Of course, when talking about proprietary graphics drivers on Linux, the story is entirely different, or if considering integrated Intel HD Graphics.) For those pursuing a AMD Radeon GPU for their own Steam Box/Machine build and hope to use the open-source Gallium3D drivers, here's some Steam on Linux gaming benchmarks from almost two dozen different GPUs.
Using the latest Radeon graphics drivers (Mesa 10.3 with Linux 3.17), I ran some fresh Steam Linux gaming benchmarks. In particular, I tested a few of Valve's original hits powered by the Source Engine. The AMD Radeon GPUs that were tested for this article consisted of:
Sapphire AMD Radeon HD 4670 512MB
The selection of AMD Radeon graphics cards intentionally went back quite away since there's still many Phoronix readers running these older GPUs due to their more mature open-source driver support on the R600g Gallium3D driver, etc. When it came to the newer graphics cards, the selection was limited to those graphics cards within my possession.
The games used for this updated open-source Radeon graphics benchmarking were Counter-Strike: Source, Portal, and Team Fortress 2. The games were tested at 1920 x 1080 and 2560 x 1600. All three of these Source Engine games run on the R600g driver with Radeon HD 4000 series GPUs and newer and work well on the other open-source drivers too. The selection of games was also limited by what could be properly automated and integrated with the Phoronix Test Suite by simply running phoronix-test-suite benchmark tf2 portal cstrike. For those unfamiliar with my requirements with regard to game test automation, read Running Benchmarks On Other New Linux Games, etc. At least Valve is working to push more games to be benchmark-friendly and there's also APITrace for replaying game traces (that will be coming to future articles), etc.
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