The Performance Impact From Different Arch Linux Kernel Flavors

Written by Michael Larabel in Operating Systems on 25 January 2023 at 12:00 PM EST. Page 1 of 8. 51 Comments.

Arch Linux has five different officially supported kernel builds: stable, hardened, long-term. real-time, and Zen, but which of these is the fastest for desktop Arch Linux users? Here are some fresh benchmarks looking at the performance out of these different kernel build options for Arch Linux and its derivatives.

Endeavour OS desktop.

As it's been a while since I last compared the different Arch Linux kernel builds, while having Endeavour OS running on the AMD Ryzen 9 7950X flagship desktop system this week I ran some comparison benchmarks using the latest kernel builds offered on Arch Linux. As a reminder as to these different official Arch Linux kernel versions:

Stable - The current Linux kernel build against the stable series.

Hardened - A security-minded Linux kernel build with extra patches to mitigate exploits and enabling more hardening options from the kernel configuration over what's found by default in stable.

Longterm - The current Long-Term Support (LTS) kernel build, otherwise similar to stable.

Realtime - The Linux kernel with the real-time (RT) patches applied.

Zen Kernel - Arch Linux kernel's build with the Zen kernel patches, similar to what the Liquorix kernel provides to Debian-based distributions.

More details on these different kernel options can be found via the Arch Linux Wiki.

From the same Ryzen 9 7950X + RX 6800 XT + Solidigm P41 Pro 2TB NVMe SSD system, all five Linux kernel builds were tested in their current upstream state as of this week atop the Endeavour OS rolling installation. No other changes were made to the system besides changing out the installed kernel via Pacman.

Arch Linux Kernels

From there a wide-range of tests from gaming to other common Linux/desktop workloads were benchmarked for seeing the impact on performance for these five Arch Linux kernel flavors.

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