Is SteamOS Any Faster Than Ubuntu 15.10 Linux?
Written by Michael Larabel in Linux Gaming on 27 October 2015. Page 1 of 3. 21 Comments

Over the past few days have been a number of SteamOS Linux gaming benchmarks, namely published so far are the 22-Way Comparison Of NVIDIA & AMD Graphics Cards On SteamOS For Steam Linux Gaming and 4K AMD/NVIDIA High-End GPU Comparison On SteamOS Linux. When seeing all of those SteamOS results, you may have started wondering: is SteamOS any faster/slower than say Ubuntu Linux? In this article are some benchmarks comparing SteamOS to Ubuntu 15.10.

SteamOS and Ubuntu are both derived from Debian, so they share close lineage, but there are some differences. Up until yesterday and in all of our tests, SteamOS was using the Linux 3.18 kernel while Ubuntu 15.10 ships with Linux 4.2. There are also other packages that are slightly older with SteamOS 2.0 Brewmaster given that it's derived from Debian 8 Jessie. Also a potential factor in the gaming performance is that Ubuntu relies upon the Unity desktop with Compiz compositing window manager, which in the past has slowed down some games but under recent Ubuntu Linux releases hasn't been anymore of an impairment than GNOME or other desktops.

For being curious myself how the SteamOS results from last Friday's 1080p comparison run against Ubuntu 15.10, I loaded the Ubuntu Wily Werewolf on the same system. I then tested a few of the graphics cards with the Steam Linux games to see how the numbers compare.

Unfortunately there aren't any AMD Catalyst results for this comparison since at the moment with the current Catalyst 15.9 driver and default Linux 4.2 kernel on Wily, the AMD Catalyst driver isn't working. For the NVIDIA Ubuntu driver, I used the NVIDIA 358.09 Beta for the newest upstream binary experience. The graphics cards for this comparison were the GeForce GTX 680, GeForce GTX 780 Ti, GeForce GTX 950, and GeForce GTX 980 Ti.

On the following pages are the results comparing SteamOS and Ubuntu 15.10 on the same system with the different automated-benchmark-friendly games via the Phoronix Test Suite. Still coming this week are the SteamOS proprietary driver results compared to Ubuntu 15.10 with the latest open-source graphics drivers: Linux 4.3, Mesa 11.1-devel Git, and LLVM 3.8 SVN.



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