Windows 10 Outperforming Linux On A ~$5000 Laptop, Ubuntu Beating Clear Linux

Written by Michael Larabel in Operating Systems on 24 March 2020 at 10:20 AM EDT. Page 1 of 9. 49 Comments.

We are used to seeing tier-one Linux distributions outperforming Microsoft Windows on hardware ranging from $199 laptops to HEDT and server processors and everything in between. Thus it came as a large surprise to us when finding Windows 10 outperforming multiple Linux distributions on a new Intel laptop. Not only was Windows 10 leading, but the performance paradigm shifted that Ubuntu was even outperforming Clear Linux, which normally is the fastest of Linux distributions out-of-the-box.

With the HP ZBook 17 G6 that was recently sent over by HP for testing, it came as a large surprise to find the stock Windows 10 Pro for Workstations performance beating the Linux distributions we were throwing at it.

This high-end mobile workstation comes equipped with an Intel Xeon E-2286M (8 core / 16 thread) processor, NVIDIA Quadro RTX 5000 graphics, 17.3-inch 4K display, 32GB of DDR4-2666 memory, and a 1TB NVMe solid-state drive. By default it shipped with Windows 10 Pro for Workstations Build 18363. In that out-of-the-box Microsoft Windows setup, it ended up delivering better performance overall than multiple Linux distributions. This HP ZBook 17 G6 configuration testes has a retail price of just above $5000 USD.

The Linux distributions tested were CentOS Linux 8, Clear Linux 32480, Manjaro 19.0.1, Ubuntu 19.10, and Ubuntu 20.04. Normally we are used to seeing Intel's own Clear Linux platform win the race with its aggressive performance defaults from the P-State Performance configuration to optimized CFLAGS/CXXFLAGS, various kernel patches, and other tunables and patches throughout the system. But even there, Clear Linux came in last place. Each Linux distribution was tested out-of-the-box, just like Windows, besides installing the proprietary NVIDIA graphics driver given the RTX 5000 GPU at play.

There isn't an immediate explanation for the surprising Windows 10 lead but the likely explanation comes down to power management behavior for this mobile workstation being much better tuned on Windows, though surprising given the outcome even with Clear Linux's aggressive performance mode. The HP Zbook 17 G6 does have much better cooling capacity than the likes of the Dell XPS and other notebooks common among Linux users.

HP zBook HP 860C Laptop Windows vs. Linux Comparison

Via the Phoronix Test Suite nearly 100 benchmarks were run across the various Linux distributions and Windows 10 Pro for Workstations.

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