16-Way Graphics Card Comparison With Valve's Steam Play For Windows Games On Linux

Written by Michael Larabel in Linux Gaming on 6 November 2018. Page 1 of 4. 41 Comments

While Steam Play is still of beta quality on Linux for running Windows games on Linux using their Wine-based Proton compatibility layer, Steam Play has been fast maturing since it was rolled out to the public in late August. The game list continues growing and with regular updates to Steam Play / Proton / DXVK (Direct3D 10/11 over Vulkan), more games are going online for running on Linux and doing so with decent performance and correct rendering. Given the most recent Steam Play beta update vastly improving the experience in our tests, here are the first of our Steam Play Proton benchmarks with Ubuntu Linux and using sixteen different NVIDIA GeForce / AMD Radeon graphics cards.

The wonderful database at ProtonDb.com is the de facto source for tracking what Windows games are working on Linux. As of writing there are more than 2,800 titles reported to work, though depending upon your Linux distribution and graphics drivers / hardware that number can vary. In terms of the vast majority of games running well, they tend to be older and/or indie games. Among the "platinum" rated games at this point are Tomb Raider: Anniversary, Final Fantasy VII, the original Company of Heroes, Unreal Gold, Far Cry, and also some more interesting games like Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare and The Witcher 3. The selection though of games is improving almost daily thanks to Proton/DXVK advancements being open-source and Valve regularly releasing updates and also the occasional workarounds to the Mesa graphics driver code.

For finding Steam Play games to utilize as benchmarks is still a bit mixed as the games need to be newer to at least stress modern graphics cards to make for an interesting comparison. The games also need to meet our benchmark/test requirements for integration with the Phoronix Test Suite and OpenBenchmarking.org. Since the Steam Play beta update last week improving things, I've been running tests using Batman: Arkham Origins and F1 2018. The Batman title is one of the older ones in the franchise but at least working well on Steam Play while F1 2018 is quite interesting considering that it is still a modern Windows game yet working well on Linux thanks to Proton and DXVK for remapping D3D11 to Vulkan.

There are also some other game titles I'm still working on benchmarking like Grand Theft Auto V and Shadow of the Tomb Raider but there are still issues there in my most recent checks. Benchmarks on other games will come as more benchmark-friendly, modern games are brought up to run properly with Steam Play.

For this benchmarking I tested 16 different graphics cards that on the Radeon side included the R9 285, R9 290, RX 560, RX 580, RX Vega 56, and RX Vega 64. All of the Radeon tests were done with the fresh driver stack of Linux 4.19 paired with Mesa 18.3-devel for the newest RADV driver code as of testing. On the NVIDIA side was the GeForce GTX 970, GTX 980, GTX 980 Ti, GTX 1060, GTX 1070, GTX 1070 Ti, GTX 1080, GTX 1080 Ti, RTX 2070, and RTX 2080 Ti. The cards tested on both sides were limited to the newer GPUs I had available for testing. The NVIDIA driver in use was the 410.73 release and all of these benchmarks were run from the same Ubuntu 18.10 system with Intel Core i9 9900K processor.

These benchmarks were run via the Phoronix Test Suite open-source benchmarking framework.

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