GNOME Shell vs. KDE Plasma Graphics Tests On Wayland vs. X.Org Server

Written by Michael Larabel in SUSE on 25 February 2018 at 04:43 AM EST. 32 Comments
A premium member this week had requested some benchmarks of openSUSE Tumbleweed when looking at the performance of KDE Plasma vs. GNOME Shell in some open-source graphics/gaming tests while also looking at the Wayland vs. X.Org Server performance.

With KDE Plasma 5.12 that openSUSE Tumbleweed has picked up, there is much better Wayland session support compared to previous releases. While KDE developers aren't yet ready to declare their Wayland session the default, in my experience so far it's been working out very well but still routinely will find application crashes in Kate and the like when testing under the KWin's Wayland compositor.

I did run some basic OpenGL tests this week on the current state of GNOME Shell 3.26.2 and KDE Plasma 5.12.1 when running both under an X.Org Server and Wayland where for some of the graphics tests XWayland is relied upon.

The results in this article are just a quick weekend look while more numbers will be on the way shortly.

As shown in past comparisons, the demanding Unigine OpenGL experience most commonly performs about the same speed regardless of desktop environment or compositor / window manager.

The Xonotic open-source first person shooter game meanwhile continues to perform the best with GNOME Shell over KDE Plasma, but worth noting is the faster performance under Plasma on Wayland.

Plasma on Wayland led to some improvements with GpuTest, which is also routed through XWayland.

A much greater number of tests will be coming up soon on Phoronix, but overall both GNOME and KDE continue maturing their Wayland-based desktops and things are looking bright for both of them, but there is much room for improvement still particularly around the reliability of some applications still crashing under Wayland and other usability shortcomings.
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 20,000 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 automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter, LinkedIn, or contacted via

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