22-Way Comparison Of NVIDIA & AMD Graphics Cards On SteamOS For Steam Linux Gaming
Written by Michael Larabel in Linux Gaming on 23 October 2015. Page 7 of 7. 110 Comments

Well, if you made it through all of the results, it's quite easy to see why NVIDIA dominates the initial selection of SteamOS Steam Machines. While AMD has made some progress on improving their Catalyst OpenGL Linux driver, the performance for many games remains shoddy and it's embarrassing to see a Radeon R9 Fury get outperformed by a lower-end card like the GeForce GTX 950 or in severe cases even a GeForce GTX 750 or outdated GeForce GTX 460 Fermi.

Here's a look at the performance-per-dollar metrics when averaging out all of the results. When it comes to the NVIDIA results, the GeForce GTX 950 was generally able to run all the tested Steam Linux games at 60+ FPS at 1080p. Looking at the graph above, the GeForce GTX 750 series to no surprise delivered the best value, but if you're building a new SteamOS/Linux gaming machine now for the living room, you'd be much better off being more future-proofed by a bit more expensive GeForce GTX 900 series graphics card.

A look at the GPU temperature data for the duration of all the tests, thanks to the Phoronix Test Suite.

When it comes to the best performance-per-Watt, the GeForce GTX 970~980 was generally leading the pact.

If I were to build a SteamOS/Linux living room gaming PC today, I would likely settle for the GeForce GTX 960 or GeForce GTX 970 for a 1080p display. The GeForce GTX 960 can be found for around $200+ at Amazon while the GeForce GTX 970 is closer to $300. With the GeForce GTX 970 you can get high-end performance while still having nice options for small form factor PCs like this GeForce GTX 970 Mini ITX graphics card.

If you are a devout AMD user, you'll be best off waiting.... Either for the RadeonSI+AMDGPU open-source driver stack to support enough of OpenGL 4 to support all interesting Steam Linux games at decent frame-rates, a miracle to happen for the Catalyst OpenGL Linux driver, or if AMD is able to deliver a competitive Vulkan driver in a timely manner and game developers are quick to jump on this next-generation graphics API.

For those that found this large Linux graphics card comparison interesting, please consider supporting the work by subscribing to Phoronix Premium to support the Linux coverage. Assuming sufficient support and interest, I'm happy to reproduce this comparison with SteamOS at 4K for those wanting a high-end graphics card to connect to a modern TV. Any other feedback is also welcome via our forums or on Facebook and Twitter.

Update: There are now the 4K resolution SteamOS Brewmaster graphics benchmarks to complement this article's 1080p tests.

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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 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 OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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