Initial NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti Linux Benchmarks

Written by Michael Larabel in Graphics Cards on 19 September 2018. Page 8 of 8. 59 Comments
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti Linux Benchmarks

During the course of all the games benchmarked, the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti Founder's Edition had an average GPU core temperature of 66 degrees (Celsius) with a peak of 77 degrees. That was better than the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Founder's Edition card.

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti Linux Benchmarks

The average AC system power consumption for the complete rig during benchmarking was 270 Watts with a peak of 386 Watts, as measured by the Phoronix Test Suite interfacing with a WattsUp Pro USB-based power meter.

Going into this GeForce RTX 2080 Ti testing, we knew there would be a new desktop GPU performance champ barring any Linux driver issues, but what we didn't know was by what sort of margin... The Radeon RX Vega 64 with the current Linux drivers roughly comes in line with the GeForce GTX 1070 or in very good cases around the GTX 1070 Ti, well short usually of the previous flagship GeForce GTX 1080 Ti. And with the GeForce RTX 2080 series pre-launch coverage being all under Windows and nearly all with Direct3D 12, I was very excited to get this card running with some Vulkan and OpenGL workloads.

While I've only had hours so far to stress this card with the Linux drivers, as of writing I have yet to encounter any NVIDIA Linux driver issues. The support at least with the dozens of GPU benchmarks via the Phoronix Test Suite are working well and the support/features seem to be at least at parity with previous Pascal GPUs -- if I encounter any real driver shortcomings I'll certainly note it in the days ahead.

On average across the many OpenGL/Vulkan Linux games tested for this initial benchmarking, the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti appeared to be roughly 30% faster -- or in some cases even more -- than the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti. Compared to the Radeon RX Vega line-up, Turing absolutely blows it out of the water -- in many Linux games the RTX 2080 Ti was twice as fast as the RX Vega 64. All of these current Linux games, of course, are non-RTX titles. NVIDIA has published their experimental RTX/ray-tracing Vulkan extension but it will likely be a while before seeing any RTX-supported Linux games and I've yet to hear if they plan to release any of their RTX demos for Linux. If you simply want the very best Linux graphics/gaming performance, the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti is now by far the fastest desktop GPU for Linux systems.

While the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti is a performance beast, it's a very expensive one at that. The GeForce RTX 2080 Ti pricing starts at around $1200 USD, which is significantly more than previous flagship desktop graphics cards. As of yet we haven't been able to check out any GeForce RTX 2080 graphics card and pricing there is also quite high for the non-Ti model at $799+. As shown by the performance-per-dollar metrics, anyone wanting a better value will be best off with the Pascal cards especially if those prices on the older hardware begins to decline.

The current selection of native Linux games may make the GeForce RTX 2080 series pricing particularly hard to justify, but at least the game selection is now expanding more with Valve's Steam Play / Proton for Windows game compatibility. Where the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti performance will really pay off for Linux gamers are if using any SteamVR Linux gaming and/or gaming at 4K. The 4K performance with the RTX 2080 Ti is much more commendable than the GTX 1080 series, especially if wanting to play some of the newer Feral game ports with higher quality settings while enjoying a 3840 x 2160 resolution. For developers, it's an entirely different story given the Tensor and RT capabilities to be covered in a separate article looking at the GPU compute performance on Linux.

On the AC system power consumption and performance-per-Watt basis, in the worst case scenario the Turing GPU was only in line with the GTX 1080 Pascal hardware, but in many instances was delivering also better performance-per-Watt.

Besides the high prices on these new graphics cards, the other main obstacle for many Linux users/gamers is the NVIDIA driver being closed-source unlike Intel and AMD... Nothing new to report in that department. At this time there is only GPU support when using the official NVIDIA 410 Linux driver. Nouveau open-source, reverse-engineered support for Turing will surely come in time, but will likely be feature-limited for the foreseeable future. With this community-driven open-source NVIDIA Linux driver, the best support and performance remains with the GeForce 600/700 Kepler series. These days there is open-source OpenGL acceleration for the GeForce 900 (Maxwell) and GeForce 1000 (Pascal) graphics cards, but it ends up being incredibly slow due to the inability for this open-source driver to re-clock to its higher frequencies / performance-states due to signed PMU firmware issues with NVIDIA. Turing will presumably suffer from the same fate on the open-source front unless NVIDIA changes course, but there is nothing to note in that department today. But if you don't care about the driver's code license, the official NVIDIA Linux driver has been delivering excellent Linux performance and features for nearly the past two decades now with generally same-day new hardware support, close performance parity to Windows for OpenGL/Vulkan workloads, and a near uniform feature-set.

While they are set in their ways and are not justified/interested/capable of providing a full-featured open-source driver, it would be nice if they could at least support the Nouveau driver enough to get at least get kernel mode-setting on their GPUs prior to release... With the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti, when installing it on this Ubuntu 18.04 test system, it booted obviously without any Nouveau DRM/KMS driver and was just left with the FBDEV driver at a 1024 x 768 resolution until getting the supported binary driver. That initial experience was made even more unpleasant by the GNOME Shell's desktop compositing being done using the CPU-based LLVMpipe driver and there being some nasty seemingly damage tracking issues that made navigating just to the NVIDIA download site a chore. Within a few months on the mainline Linux kernel we will hopefully see Turing display support in order for Nouveau to at least improve this out-of-the-box experience until fetching the official NVIDIA driver. It was for those initial out-of-the-box reasons that NVIDIA years ago maintained the xf86-video-nv DDX driver.

Anyhow, the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti is quite a performant graphics processor with the official NVIDIA Linux driver and its speedy performance will go unmatched at least until some point in 2019. Stay tuned for many more Linux benchmarks coming up shortly on Phoronix, especially for compute workloads and other interesting and more time consuming comparisons.

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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