Windows 10 WSL vs. VirtualBox Ubuntu Performance On An Intel Core i9 7900X

Written by Michael Larabel in Operating Systems on 5 July 2017. Page 4 of 4. 41 Comments

For CPU-heavy workloads, the Windows Subsystem for Linux does a very good job and in some cases even better than bare metal Ubuntu 16.04.2 LTS. The Turbo Boost / Turbo Boost Max 3.0 support under Ubuntu 16.04.2 LTS is the likely explanation while Windows has had mature TBM3 support while Ubuntu 17.04 performs better as well with its newer kernel.

The Windows 10 host led to much slower PostgreSQL performance.

While Redis was one of the exceptions where the Windows 10 test configurations was faster than 16.04.2 LTS bare metal.

WSL on the latest Windows 10 Insider Preview build performs well with the Blender 3D modeling software.

Overall these were fairly interesting results. The I/O performance when using the Windows Subsystem for Linux is still much slower than can be found running Ubuntu bare metal and generally slower than the I/O out of VirtualBox with a virtual hard disk, but Microsoft appears to be continuing to optimize WSL for greater performance. When it comes to CPU workloads, WSL tended to be very competitive with the bare metal Linux installations. Especially for multi-threaded workloads, WSL was faster than using VirtualBox. In some benchmarks, WSL with Ubuntu 16.04.2 LTS was faster than a clean install of Ubuntu 16.04.2 LTS, likely due to better Turbo Boost / TBM3 support on Windows, while at least with Ubuntu 17.04 and other newer distributions the performance is in better shape.

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Michael Larabel

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