Nouveau vs. NVIDIA Linux Comparison Shows Shortcomings
Written by Michael Larabel in Display Drivers on 23 April 2013. Page 8 of 8. 61 Comments

For the last and most demanding benchmark used, Xonotic with high-quality settings, the closed-source NVIDIA 319.12 Beta Linux graphics driver was obviously much faster than Nouveau in the form of the Linux 3.9 kernel with Mesa 9.2-devel Nouveau Gallium3D.

The only test cases where the Nouveau driver was coming close to competing well against the NVIDIA binary driver with the very latest Linux code was when being able to successfully re-clock the low-end GeForce 9500GT and GeForce GT 220 graphics cards. Again, see the first and second pages of this article for all of the Nouveau re-clocking information.

Aside from the performance coming up short, there were also the GPU issues noted on the second page. For those serious about open-source graphics driver and needing to use it in a production setting rather than playing Russian Roulette with Nouveau upgrades, the Radeon driver is still generally better off. This is especially the case while the open-source Radeon driver holds the leads with power management, re-clocking, and most recently is the UVD hardware video playback support.

For those wanting to see how the open-source versus closed-source driver comparison shakes-up when putting the Radeon and Nouveau/NVIDIA results side-by-side, those merged numbers will be out in another Phoronix article later in the week.

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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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