Windows 10 Versus SteamOS: Is The Performance Good Enough?

Windows 10 Versus SteamOS: Is The Performance Good Enough?

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.

SteamOS gaming performs significantly worse than Windows, Ars analysis shows [ArsTechnica]


  • I assume the benchmarks are done in Windows 10 before the major update that hit yesterday? I wonder if there are any noticeable differences.

  • NVIDIA cards generally perform within 10-20% of their Windows game counterparts, and in certain cases better. The issue with Linux atm is no G-Sync/Freesync or viable v-sync options, you have 2 results when using v-sync under Linux,
    1) The performance hit is MASSIVE that it ends up vsync’ing to 30fps not 60fps often
    2) The screen tearing issue can persist even with it on.

    So THAT needs a major overhaul, and I just don’t think OpenGL has the code for it? but games like “The Talos Principle” give hope in showing that ingame coding can work very well. But driver based solutions are just DEAD for sync options atm.

    Now let’s talk about AMD; while their cards can be made to work ‘OK’ under Linux, they suffer from quite nasty performance hit in certain scenes of games/or setup.

    Additionally no sync options work well with them, currently AMD are in the process of MAKING a whole new driver set for Linux, it’s just unclear on when the driver improvements will occur, so far they’re just setting up Kernel AMDGPU driver in place which offers NO performance improvements under the new Kernels atm, because it’s just open-source adaption. No Catalyst made for new Kernel yet.

    AMD may be waiting for Vulkan before releasing their Vulkan pumped catalyst drivers which also redirect OpenGL through the Vulkan driver for better performance (from what I understand). Nvidia however has already started including Vulkan base support in their Linux drivers.

    Bottom line is, you should revisit this whole topic in 6 months time, hopefully we have our next-gen drivers by then for Linux (AMD needs to pull a golden rabbit out of the bag!)

    PS. It’s primarily the fault of vendor driver support (lack of good support) that has made Linux a hard sell for gamers, allot of people also don’t want to give up their sync options, very important feature for allot!

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