12-Way Linux Graphics Card Comparison Using The Newest May 2018 Drivers
Written by Michael Larabel in Display Drivers on 26 May 2018. Page 1 of 1. 21 Comments

Here is a look at twelve different AMD Radeon and NVIDIA GeForce graphics cards while testing was done using the newest available graphics drivers and using an Ubuntu 18.04 LTS installation.

With the Phoronix.com 14th birthday coming up in two weeks as well as marking the 10th birthday of the initial Phoronix Test Suite release, a lot of exciting benchmarks are coming in the days to come. For kicking off the latest of some large comparisons to come are some fresh graphics card benchmarks using the newest and continuously evolving open-source Radeon graphics drivers as well as the latest NVIDIA 396 Linux driver, which is also exciting due to the roll-out of their new LLVM-based SPIR-V compiler.

The Radeon Linux graphics driver stack used was with the Linux 4.17 Git kernel and using Mesa 18.2-devel as of this week built against the LLVM 7.0 SVN AMDGPU back-end as packaged easily for Ubuntu users via the Padoka PPA. This provides a very fresh look at the current Radeon OpenGL and Vulkan (via RADV) gaming capabilities. The Radeon graphics cards I tested went back to GCN 1.0 with the Radeon HD 7950. With the GCN 1.0/1.1 hardware the tests were done when switching from the Radeon DRM to AMDGPU DRM for using this newer and more actively developed kernel driver and also being able to make use of the RADV Vulkan driver. The tested Radeon hardware for this comparison included the Radeon HD 7950, R9 285, R9 290, RX 580, R9 Fury, RX Vega 56, and RX Vega 64.

On the NVIDIA Linux side was their latest release, the 396.24 driver. With the 396 series they introduced their next-gen Vulkan SPIR-V compiler based upon LLVM along with various other driver improvements in this latest cycle. For the NVIDIA Linux testing we used the standard Pascal GPU line-up including the GeForce GTX 1060, GTX 1070, GTX 1070 Ti, GTX 1080, and GTX 1080 Ti. For those wondering about current Kepler/Maxwell numbers in comparison, that data will be coming in an even larger CPU comparison coming up closer to the Phoronix 14th birthday in early June.

All of these Linux OpenGL/Vulkan Linux gaming benchmarks were carried out in a fully-automated and reproducible manner using the open-source Phoronix Test Suite benchmarking software. If you enjoy my frequent Linux hardware benchmarks alongside the other daily content on Phoronix, please consider showing your support by joining Phoronix Premium or making a PayPal tip or at the very least to not use this site with any ad-blocker.

BioShock Infinite at 1080p is CPU bound except for the slowest/older graphics cards, but worth pointing out is that the RadeonSI driver still does seem to have slightly higher overhead than the NVIDIA Linux driver given where each driver is topping out at for the performance.

But at 4K with BioShock Infinite is where the RX 580 is competing with the GTX 1060 while the RX Vega 64 comes in line with the GTX 1070 Ti.

For Deus Ex: Mankind Divided at 2560 x 1440p with high quality settings, the RX Vega 64 comes in just shy of the GeForce GTX 1080 while the RX 580 manages to run a few frames ahead of the GTX 1060.

Dota 2 with OpenGL shows the RadeonSI performance still coming in as weak for this particular game. While the GTX 1060 and RX 580 are running neck-and-neck, the RX Vega 64 comes in slower than a GeForce GTX 1070.

Even with Dota 2 on Vulkan, the RX Vega numbers are still coming in quite low for this game.

With Dawn of War III on Vulkan at low quality settings at 1440p, the RX Vega 64 was in line with the GTX 1070.

As well as at 4K, the RX Vega 64 was only aligning with the GeForce GTX 1070 when using the latest Linux drivers.

And at ultra settings too with DOW3, the RX Vega 64 only ended up hitting close to the frame-rates of the GTX 1070 Ti.

F1 2017 with Vulkan is one of the games where the Radeon RX 580 on RADV does very well against the GeForce GTX 1060.

Rise of the Tomb Raider is Feral's newest Linux game port that was just recently released and powered by Vulkan. At 1080p with low quality settings the Radeon RX 580 with RADV manages to come out well ahead of the GTX 1060 while the Vega hardware was generally performing between the GTX 1070 and GTX 1080.

Rise of the Tomb Raider at 1080p with very high settings continued with the RX 580 performing well against the GTX 1060 while the Vega GPU support on RADV was roughly in line where we would expect it to perform.

In the most demanding configuration, the Radeon RX Vega 64 did well against the GeForce GTX 1080 with this testing on the latest Linux graphics drivers.

Here are some OpenGL exceptions where the RadeonSI stack continues to perform abnormally well while still rendering correctly:

That's our latest round of OpenGL and Vulkan Linux game testing. Again, if you appreciate all of the ongoing Linux benchmarking and news coverage that happens at Phoronix now almost to its 14th birthday, consider helping out by joining Phoronix Premium or making a PayPal tip or at the very least to not use this site with any ad-blocker. Stay tuned for more interesting tests.

About The Author
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com 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 OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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