Linux games abound on Steam, but playing them on SteamOS — Valve’s flavour of the open source operating system — remains the inferior option when performance is a concern. Even Source engine titles lag behind on the platform, when compared Microsoft’s latest in Windows 10.
ArsTechnica recently pulled out the benchmarking hardware to put SteamOS up against Windows 10 and unfortunately, while speeds have improved, you’re still going to want to stick with Redmond if high frame rates are your bag.
Rather than smack SteamOS with cutting-edge releases, Ars went with two older, but still very demanding games in Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor and Metro: Last Light Redux. It also tested four of Valve’s own — Dota 2, Left 4 Dead 2, Team Fortress 2 and Portal.
SteamOS proved the poorer choice in every benchmark — sometimes up to 58 per cent slower than its Windows counterpart. It was closer at higher resolutions and quality settings, but that’s not surprising.
Sadly, it’s going to take years of refinement in Linux graphics drivers and the kernel before SteamOS can truly compete with Windows. The fact of the matter is that vendors such as NVIDIA and AMD have spent more resources on Microsoft’s platform and the benchmarks continue to reflect that focus.
Engines such as Unity make cross-platform development almost trivial these days, so things will get better. We’re just no there yet.