Intel iGPU Linux Gamers May Be Better Off With The "Powersave" Governor
Written by Michael Larabel in Linux Gaming on 18 December 2019 at 03:33 AM EST. 10 Comments
While it's normally recommended switching to the P-State/CPUFreq "performance" governor for the optimal Linux gaming experience and the preferred default of Feral's GameMode Linux gaming daemon, in the case of Intel integrated graphics you may find better results in using the "powersave" governor.

One of the areas I had been meaning to investigate since buying the Dell XPS 7390 Ice Lake laptop earlier this quarter with Core i7 CPU bearing Gen 11 graphics was seeing the impact of different CPU frequency scaling governors. Now that Intel's graphics are much more capable with Gen11 and beyond, it's an interesting area to explore with gaming becoming more viable. But Jason Ekstrand of Intel's open-source Linux graphics driver team has beat me to sharing some numbers.

He shared that using the "powersave" governor with Intel graphics on a Gen11/Icelake setup (in this case, a Razer Blade Stealth 13), led to 25~30% better performance for the recent Linux game port Shadow of the Tomb Raider compared to the "performance" governor as set by default with GameMode.

It makes sense though since with integrated graphics the power envelope is shared between the CPU cores and graphics. In the performance mode of quickly ramping up the CPU cores it may deprive the graphics, depending upon how CPU vs. GPU bottlenecked the software is.

Ekstrand posted a proposal for Feral's GameMode to use the powersave governor for Intel integrated graphics. In there he also suggested several other ideas although the only numbers expressed were the 25~30% figure for Shadow of the Tomb Raider.

I'll hopefully get to running some of my own tests soon, including looking at the Schedutil configuration on Ice Lake. So for now just take it as a P.S.A. that if you are using Intel integrated graphics for any light gaming you may want to consider trying out "powersave" and not immediately switching to "performance" or blindly following the GameMode defaults.
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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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