Ubuntu 21.04 - X.Org vs. Wayland Linux Gaming Performance
Written by Michael Larabel in Linux Gaming on 29 April 2021. Page 1 of 3. 59 Comments

One of the most significant underlying changes with the recent release of Ubuntu 21.04 is the default GNOME Shell desktop environment is running the Wayland-based session by default rather than the traditional X.Org Server session. But what does this mean for the Linux gaming performance on Ubuntu 21.04? Here are some (X)Wayland vs. X.Org benchmarks.

Ubuntu 21.04 is using the Wayland-based GNOME session by default on supported (namely non-NVIDIA) setups. However, via the log-in manager one can easily switch back to GNOME on X.Org if desired for testing/comparison purposes or if finding issue with the Wayland support.

For the benchmarks today was loading up a clean install of Ubuntu 21.04 with its Linux 5.11 kernel, GNOME Shell 3.38.4, and Mesa 21.0.1 while looking at the gaming performance between the X.Org and Wayland sessions. An AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT graphics card was used for all the testing today with many of the games being tested at both 1080p and 4K.

The Ubuntu 21.04 desktop experience with Wayland has been quite good from testing on this system and numerous other test systems in recent weeks at Phoronix. I haven't encountered any real issues and thanks to all the upstream improvements in recent years and distributions like Fedora Workstation long using the Wayland session by default, in 2021 it's quite stable and feature complete. For games not having native Wayland support, XWayland works reliably as well so the new session on Ubuntu 21.04 should be largely transparent to the user.


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