KWin Can Cause A Performance Hit Too, But It's Different From Compiz
Written by Michael Larabel in Software on 24 May 2010. Page 5 of 5. 43 Comments

Lastly, the Catalyst driver was actually faster with KWin when running the Lightsmark OpenGL lighting benchmark where as with the NVIDIA driver there was a greater performance hit encountered.

To answer the question of those that were wondering about how KDE/KWin affects the gaming performance, yes, depending upon the graphics processor and driver there can be a performance hit similar to that of running Compiz due to the compositing that still takes place within a full-screen application. However, the performance between running Compiz and KWin is not always the same.

With the Intel Linux graphics driver, we actually encountered KWin not causing any sizable performance hits where as with Compiz the performance had dropped. In a few cases with the Catalyst and Radeon drivers, there was actually a small performance boost when running KWin on KDE 4.4.2 compared to Compiz on GNOME 2.30. In a few cases, like Unigine Heaven, KWin though caused a significant performance drop with the Catalyst driver that was not experienced by Compiz. We may also end up running more tests with the KWin compositing support disabled to rule out anything else in the KDE Software Compilation stack that may be affecting the system performance compared to GNOME. For interested driver and desktop developers, there is much more digging that can be done.

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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 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 automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via

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