Catalyst vs. AMDGPU vs. Radeon DRM On A R9 290: Experimental AMDGPU Can Be Faster
Written by Michael Larabel in Display Drivers on 29 January 2016. Page 4 of 4. 23 Comments

When running Xonotic with low image quality settings, the R9 290 on AMDGPU was now faster than Catalyst!

However, when upping the visual intensity, the open-source driver performance fell behind Catalyst.

Once getting everything setup, these initial numbers for the Radeon R9 290 "Hawaii" graphics card on the AMDGPU DRM driver is quite positive. Worst case scenario the performance was the same as Radeon DRM, but in some games like BioShock Infinite, DiRT Showdown, and Xonotic (low image quality settings), the performance was upwards of 20% better than the Radeon DRM driver. For Xonotic this was enough to make AMDGPU faster than Catalyst but in the other Linux OpenGL test results it was still slower than AMD's binary blob.

If wanting to try out AMDGPU yourself, keep in mind the Sea Islands support is considered experimental on AMDGPU and that this will only work with GCN 1.1 GPUs and not the GCN 1.0 hardware found in more of today's Radeon products. If you missed it from earlier this week there is a larger Linux 4.5 AMDGPU / Radeon vs. Catalyst OpenGL comparison for looking at the latest open-source driver performance against proprietary driver on a range of graphics cards. Over the weekend I'll also be uploading some more open-source AMD graphics card results using the Linux 4.5 development kernel with latest Mesa Git.

If you like all of the Linux hardware benchmarking done exclusively at Phoronix, consider joining Phoronix Premium.

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Michael Larabel is the principal author of and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 10,000 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 automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via

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