Benchmarking Five Linux Distros Against Windows 11 On The Threadripper PRO 7995WX / HP Z6 G5 A

Written by Michael Larabel in Operating Systems on 29 November 2023 at 09:00 AM EST.

Given the interest in the AMD Ryzen Threadripper PRO 7995WX Linux performance and the benchmarks of Ubuntu Linux vs. Windows 11 on this 96-core / 192-thread workstation processor, I've extended that comparison to now feature five Linux distributions up against Microsoft Windows on this HP Z6 G5 A workstation for greater perspective into the results.

Threadripper CPU with Ubuntu Linux

All of these Windows 11 and Linux distribution tests were carried out on the same workstation: an AMD Z6 G5 A sent over for review by HP. This workstation features the flagship AMD Ryzen Threadripper PRO 7995WX processor, 8 x 16GB DDR5-5200 RDIMM memory, 2 x 1TB Samsung MZVL21T0HCLR-00BH1 NVMe SSDs, and a NVIDIA RTX A4000 16GB graphics card. The operating system configurations tested for this article included:

Windows 11 Pro - Windows 11 as shipped by HP on this workstation and with all stable release updates as of testing, including the H2-23 update.

Ubuntu 23.10 - Ubuntu 23.10 at its defaults with Linux 6.5, etc.

Ubuntu 23.10 + Perf Gov - For additional perspective into the 7995WX performance, this run is when switching from the default amd-pstate-epp powersave governor over to the amd-pstate-epp performance CPU frequency scaling governor.

CentOS Stream 9 - The RHEL upstream tested at its defaults.

Arch Linux - Arch Linux with all of its defaults and updates as of 23 November as setup via Archinstall.

OpenSUSE Tumbleweed - The rolling-release openSUSE Tumbleweed Linux distribution with its rolling updates as of 24 November.

Debian Trixie Testing - The latest upstream development state of Debian "Trixie" Testing as of 24 November.

AMD HP Z6 G5 A running CentOS Stream

All of these Linux distributions installed fine on the HP Z6 G5 A workstation. The only caveat, of course, is that as this review unit shipped with the NVIDIA RTX A4000 graphics. So for proper acceleration you need to install the NVIDIA proprietary driver with the NVIDIA Ada support still coming together and having only open-source upstream acceleration when on Linux 6.7 and using the NVIDIA GSP firmware. So aside from that obvious caveat, there weren't any other troubles encountered with those Linux distributions tested. The HP Z6 G5 A can also be configured with Radeon PRO graphics if wanting a fully open-source graphics solution.

Trying to run Clear Linux

Intel's Clear Linux distribution typically works on AMD hardware too and given its very fast and optimized x86_64 performance that was also going to be a test target too for this Ryzen Threadripper 7995WX testing. However, unlike the five other Linux distributions tested, Clear Linux wasn't able to boot on this flagship AMD system. The boot process would appear hung and took 10+ minutes for various systemd events to occur and ultimately could never boot to the Clear Linux desktop image nor to the Clear Linux server install, using "nomodeset" was of no help, or other workarounds. So for this article Clear Linux was left out until it can be further debugged, but if I get it working on this flagship Zen 4 Threadripper PRO system I will be featuring it in a follow-up article given its typically leading Linux performance.

AMD Ryzen Threadripper PRO 7995WX - Windows 11 vs. Linux

In any case, let's move on to some numbers for seeing how these five Linux distributions compare, the performance governor impact on Ubuntu 23.10, and ultimately how these distributions compete against Windows 11 Pro as shipped by HP on this incredibly powerful workstation.

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