AMD vs. NVIDIA Linux Gaming Performance For DiRT Showdown

Written by Michael Larabel in Linux Gaming on 18 August 2015. Page 1 of 4. 42 Comments

Yesterday marked the release of DiRT Showdown for Linux as ported over by Virtual Programming using their eON technology. With being able to use it as an automated, reproducible benchmark, I spent most of the day and into the night working on some initial AMD Radeon vs. NVIDIA GeForce graphics card benchmarks using this DiRT game that's finally available to Linux/SteamOS gamers, three years after it was released for Windows. This initial comparison is a 14-way Linux gaming graphics card comparison.

With this being the latest port by Virtual Programming using eON, which is quite controversial with the Linux gaming community given the poor quality of some of their initial ports in the past, I was quite curious about the performance for AMD and NVIDIA graphics with this racing game. Virtual Programming states that the minimum requirement for the game on Linux is using the binary AMD/NVIDIA drivers and having an OpenGL 4.1-capable graphics card with at least 1GB of video RAM. However, their ideal system requirement is a GL4.2-capable card with the newest proprietary drivers. At the moment this game is not supported by the open-source Mesa drivers. The developers also recommend a Core i7 / AMD Bulldozer class CPU and 8GB of system memory, while 4GB of RAM and a dual-core processor is their minimum recommendation.

The graphics cards I tested so far for DiRT Showdown atop Ubuntu 15.04 with the latest proprietary graphics drivers were:

- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 550 Ti
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 750
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti
- AMD Radeon HD 7950
- AMD Radeon R9 285
- AMD Radeon R9 290
- AMD Radeon R7 370
- AMD Radeon R9 Fury

The graphics cards tested were the modern graphics cards I had available for testing, aside from extra NVIDIA GPUs that weren't tested since the data points to be shown on the next pages already illustrate the performance levels quite clearly. The proprietary drivers were the NVIDIA 356.05 Beta and Catalyst 15.7. Ubuntu 15.04 x86_64 with the Linux 3.19 kernel was used for testing. The test system was the Core i7 5960X Haswell-E setup that's been frequently used in other Linux graphics articles.

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