20-Way Radeon Comparison With Open-Source Graphics For Steam On Linux Gaming

Written by Michael Larabel in Linux Gaming on 27 August 2014 at 09:30 AM EDT. Page 5 of 5. 46 Comments.
Steam Linux Games Open-Source GPUs

With Team Fortress 2 the newer RadeonSI Gallium3D driver for the HD 7000 series and newer was delivering lower results than the R600g driver. The Radeon HD 6870 graphics card with the R600g driver of Mesa 10.3 and then the Linux 3.17 kernel was delivering the fastest TF2 performance. Also running into issues were the Radeon HD 7950 and R9 290 graphics cards that would hang when running the Team Fortress 2 benchmark.

Steam Linux Games Open-Source GPUs

RadeonSI has a ways to mature for better handling Team Fortress 2 but at least with the higher-end GCN GPUs it was delivering playable frame-rates.

With all three of the Valve games tested, they were running great on the open-source Radeon Linux driver provided by the 3.17 kernel and Mesa 10.3-devel, aside from the few GCN GPU stability issues mentioned for the Team Fortress 2 testing. There were no other visual artifacts or other problems encountered for Counter-Strike: Source or Portal.

The Radeon R9 290 performed very well for Portal and Counter-Strike: Source on Ubuntu, but with Linux 3.17 in other games is where re-clocking had broken in our other tests which leads to very poor results. If you're looking for an AMD Radeon graphics card for use with the open-source Linux driver and intend to do some Linux gaming, most of the newer models should work well on RadeonSI assuming you're using the latest driver code from Mesa and the Radeon DRM kernel driver. However, the Radeon HD 6000 series graphics cards also run great and are powered by the more mature R600g driver. The Radeon HD 6870 is my favorite HD 6000 series graphics card with the HD 6900 series not running as fast due to the open-source driver being less optimized for the newer VLIW4 architecture.

To complement the gaming for anyone building their own Steam Box/Machine for the living room, the newer GCN GPUs have open-source video encode support via the VCE engine and it's exposed through Gallium3D with the OpenMAX state tracker. All of the recent Radeon GPUs should be fine on the video decode front thanks to AMD's continued work on the open-source UVD support and it being exposed by the VDPAU state tracker.

If you have any other questions about this testing or Linux GPU recommendations, drop by the forums or let me know on Twitter along with other Linux test requests. If you appreciate all of this Linux hardware testing please subscribe to Phoronix Premium or consider a PayPal tip.

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Michael Larabel

Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com 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 OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter, LinkedIn, or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.