NVIDIA Linux Driver Continues Running Strong Against The GeForce Windows Driver

Written by Michael Larabel in Display Drivers on 5 January 2015 at 02:45 PM EST. Page 1 of 3. 18 Comments.

With last week having delivered fresh benchmarks of AMD's Catalyst Linux vs. Windows drivers (and before that an updated Intel Linux vs. Windows OpenGL comparison to end out 2014), here's some updated NVIDIA Linux vs. Windows benchmarks to compare the GeForce graphics drivers at the end of 2014. Three different graphics cards were used in benchmarking the latest NVIDIA Linux vs. Windows performance with the proprietary graphics drivers followed by also having the latest open-source NVIDIA/Nouveau driver results.

The results for this article are building on top of the data from Nouveau vs. NVIDIA GeForce Linux Performance At The End Of 2014, which compared the latest open-source Nouveau graphics driver to the closed-source, official proprietary driver. Given that Nouveau is part of the mix, the newer NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970/980 Maxwell GPUs weren't tested for this article since the open-source driver doesn't yet have acceleration support for these newer GPUs. The GTX 750 Maxwell series on the open-source driver also doesn't have acceleration by default due to not yet being able to self-generate the necessary firmware/microcode. Thus for this testing the GPUS were limited to the GeForce 600/700 Kepler series, but in a separate article I'll share some binary-only driver comparisons of the newer NVIDIA GTX 970/980 graphics cards between Windows and Linux.

As explained in the earlier Intel and AMD cross-OS comparisons, Windows 7 Pro with all available system updates was used for testing rather than Windows 8.1 due to stability issues on this particular system whenever doing a clean install of Windows 8. The same hardware was used between Windows and Ubuntu 14.10 Linux and included an Intel Core i7 4790K processor, ASRock Z97 Extreme6 motherboard, 16GB of DDR3 memory, OCZ SSD, and the GeForce GTX 680/760/780 Ti graphics cards.

The open-source Nouveau driver stack consisted of the Linux 3.18.0 kernel with Mesa 10.5-devel Git. The latest NVIDIA Linux x86_64 driver at the time of testing was the NVIDIA 346.22 release. Lastly, the Windows 7 driver in use that was the latest at the time of testing was the 347.09 release.

NVIDIA vs. Nouveau Linux vs. Windows GeForce

All OpenGL benchmarks on Linux and Windows were carried out using the open-source Phoronix Test Suite automated benchmarking software with our usual tests that can be fully automated well, are completely reproducible, and are of similar port quality under both Windows and Linux.

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