A Look At The Linux vs. Windows Power Use For A Ryzen 7 + Radeon RX Vega Desktop
Written by Michael Larabel in AMD on 25 July 2018 at 12:03 PM EDT. 13 Comments
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Recently I have been posting a number of Linux laptop battery benchmarks including how the power consumption compares to Windows 10. If you are curious how these numbers play out on the desktop side and when using AMD hardware, here are some results for your viewing pleasure with a Ryzen 7 2700X and Radeon RX Vega 64 desktop system.

While working on some recent Windows/Linux benchmarks from the AMD side given the number of recent Intel operating system benchmarks, I took the opportunity to also run some fresh power consumption tests. The system under test was an AMD Ryzen 7 2700X with an ASUS ROG CROSHAIR VII HERO motherboard, 2 x 8GB DDR4-3400 memory, 256GB Samsung 950 PRO 256GB NVMe SSD, and Radeon RX Vega 64 graphics.

The operating systems tested out-of-the-box on this system were Microsoft Windows 10 Pro, Fedora Workstation 28, Antergos 18.7-Rolling, Clear Linux 23830, and Ubuntu 18.04 LTS.

The power consumption was being monitored via a WattsUp Pro connected to a different PC for being able to analyze the AC system power consumption from a neutral environment to rule out any polling differences. The Phoronix Test Suite was recording the WattsUp Pro AC system power draw for this Ryzen + Vega system.

First up was a look at the power use over the course of a cold boot to the logged in system, launching the default web browser and navigating to Phoronix.com, opening up the file manager, opening up the terminal/PowerShell, and other light desktop tasks.

To much surprise, Windows 10 had the highest power use on average at 88.4 Watts for this Ryzen 7 + RX Vega desktop while having the lowest average power use was actually Intel's Clear Linux platform at 79 Watts. Coming in at 81~82 Watts were Fedora, Antergos, and Ubuntu. When idling, Windows 10 appeared to be consuming several more Watts than the Linux operating systems under test. But under the desktop use, the Linux power use was peaking higher. The maximum Windows 10 power draw during boot and the start of these light desktop tasks was 188 Watts while Fedora Workstation came in at 191 Watts, Clear Linux at 187 Watts, and Ubuntu 18.04 LTS having the highest power draw at 205 Watts.

Next up was a look at the system power consumption when under load. The load was the Phoronix Test Suite running OpenArena, Crafty chess benchmark, x264 video encoding, Stockfish, C-Ray ray-tracing, and OSBench.

Most interesting from the Windows vs. Linux metrics was Windows 10 having a significantly lower peak power use at 198 Watts compared to 214~226 Watts on the four Linux distributions tested. But interestingly Windows had a slightly higher minimum power draw 79 Watts versus 69~72 Watts. The average power draw during this load benchmarking was 154 Watts. Meanwhile the lowest average power use of the Linux distributions was Fedora Workstation 28 at 150 Watts, which recently went through a round of power optimizations. Consuming the most power on average were Ubuntu 18.04 LTS and Antergos 18.7-Rolling.

Overall, the Linux desktop power use for this AMD Ryzen 7 2700X + Radeon RX Vega 64 desktop was largely on-par with Windows 10. Fedora Workstation 28 and Clear Linux tended to be the most energy efficient along with Antergos 18.7 while Ubuntu 18.04 LTS did tend to be a bit more power hungry -- similar to what we've found in the Intel/laptop benchmarks recently.
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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