Radeon Linux Gaming Performance: Ubuntu 17.04 vs. Ubuntu 17.10

Written by Michael Larabel in Linux Gaming on 18 October 2017 at 05:38 PM EDT. Page 1 of 4. 17 Comments.

With Ubuntu 17.10 set to ship tomorrow that features just not an upgraded Linux kernel and Mesa 3D stack but also transitions from Unity 7 + X.Org to GNOME Shell + Wayland, here are some comparison gaming benchmarks on a few different AMD Radeon graphics cards.

Ubuntu 17.04 shipped six months ago with Linux 4.10 and Mesa 17.0.7 as the main graphics components for open-source driver users while now with Ubuntu 17.10 is the Linux 4.13 kernel and Mesa 17.2.2. The six months of improvements to Mesa alone are massive for Intel and Radeon users with the RADV/ANV Vulkan drivers maturing much over this time (17.10 still doesn't ship with the Vulkan drivers, but are just a sudo apt install mesa-vulkan-drivers away) as well as many performance improvements and new extensions for the growing number of bundled OpenGL drivers. If you read Phoronix daily, you should already be well versed on the many Mesa accomplishments over this time span.

Going from Linux 4.10 to Linux 4.13 is also significant for many AMDGPU DRM driver improvements as well as continued advancements to the Intel i915 DRM driver. There's also been some open-source strides with Nouveau around better Pascal support, many fixes, etc.

And then on the desktop front it's quite different going from a Unity 7 powered X.Org session to GNOME Shell paired with Wayland.

For seeing how the Radeon gaming performance has changed, I've done benchmarks of clean 17.04 Zesty and 17.10 Artful installations on the same system while testing Radeon R7 370, RX 580, and R9 Fury graphics cards. The RX Vega cards weren't tested since Ubuntu 17.10 doesn't support these graphics cards out-of-the-box due to lacking AMDGPU DC support, not to mention no support in Ubuntu 17.04. The R7 370 was tested as an older graphics card relying upon the Radeon DRM kernel driver rather than AMDGPU DRM that's used by the tested Polaris and Fiji graphics cards.

Ubuntu 17.04 vs. Ubuntu 17.10 X.Org Wayland Radeon

Under Ubuntu 17.10, tests were done with both the GNOME X.Org and Wayland sessions. All benchmarks done in a fully-automated and reproducible manner using the Phoronix Test Suite. The game selection included popular titles that are benchmark-friendly and could be tested on both distributions: ruling out some titles like Dawn of War III that couldn't run properly on the stock drivers of Ubuntu 17.04.

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