Another GPU Driver Showdown: AMD vs NVIDIA in Linux

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | April 27, 2014 - 04:22 AM |
Tagged: nvidia, linux, amd

GPU drivers have been a hot and sensitive topic at the site, especially recently, probably spurred on by the announcements of Mantle and DirectX 12. These two announcements admit and illuminate (like a Christmas tree) the limitations of APIs on gaming performance. Both AMD and NVIDIA have their recent successes and failures on their respective fronts. This will not deal with that, though. This is a straight round-up of new GPUs running the latest drivers... in Linux.

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Again, results are mixed and a bit up for interpretation.

In all, NVIDIA tends to have better performance with its 700-series parts than equivalently-priced R7 or R9 products from AMD, especially in low-performance Source Engine titles such as Team Fortress 2. Sure, even the R7 260X was almost at 120 FPS, but the R9 290 was neck-and-neck with the GeForce GTX 760. The GeForce GTX 770, about $50 cheaper than the R9 290, had a healthy 10% lead over it.

In Unigine Heaven, however, the AMD R9 290 passed the NVIDIA GTX 770 by a small margin, coming right in line with it's aforementioned $50-bigger price tag. In that situation, where performance became non-trivial, AMD caught up (but did not beat). Also, third-party driver support is more embraced by AMD than NVIDIA. On the other hand, NVIDIA's proprietary drivers are demonstrably better, even if you would argue that the specific cases are trivial because of overkill.

And then there's Unvanquished, where AMD's R9 290 did not achieve triple-digit FPS scores despite the $250 GTX 760 getting 110 FPS.

Update: As pointed out in the comments, some games perform significantly better on the $130 R7 260X than the $175 GTX 750 Ti (HL2: Lost Coast, TF2, OpenArena, Unigine Sanctuary). Some other games are the opposite, with the 750 Ti holding a sizable lead over the R7 260X (Unigine Heaven and Unvanquished). Again, Linux performance is a grab bag between vendors.

There's a lot of things to consider, especially if you are getting into Linux gaming. I expect that it will be a hot topic, soon, as it picks up... ... Steam.

Source: Phoronix

April 27, 2014 | 06:48 AM - Posted by JohnGR

Well the article does good to point out that 290 is just too slow in Linux.

At the same time it is avoiding to mention that 260X is in most cases outperforming the Maxwell based 750Ti.

Well the author gives an explanation.

"It's too bad our selection of AMD Radeon hardware is much more limited than the GeForce selection of GPUs, thanks to NVIDIA's better Linux cooperation with Phoronix.'

April 27, 2014 | 02:55 PM - Posted by Scott Michaud

I actually missed that (well, the first half of the comment -- not going to touch the second half, lol). I'll update.

April 27, 2014 | 07:12 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

wow 260x is really impressive, I guess Maxwell drivers are not so good for linux!?

April 27, 2014 | 11:23 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Well AMD time to focus more resources on the Linux driver side, and when will there be Mantle support for Linux? I guess AMD is forced to update most of its drivers to support its version of HSA, so they may as well get full Linux support going forward. Steam OS, along with the Steam client, and major gaming engine support for Linux is going to give gaming all the hardware/software updatability of a standard PC platform, with the built-in ease of use of a console ecosystem, and the added benifit of less middlemen between gamers and their gaming dollars, NO SOUP FOR YOU, M$!

April 27, 2014 | 03:20 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)


I was having a bad day...

Emphasis on was.


Waiting for all those triple AAA titles to come to linux. I've gotten ahead of the curve and am brushing up on my linux skills.

The first thing to go was Microsoft...after I read the Windows 8: Prism Edition articles, I'll never touch another Windows computer again...and Apple can jump off a bridge as well.

Linux 4 me.

April 27, 2014 | 07:11 PM - Posted by Sonic4Spuds

Unfortunately it doesn't matter what the perf is like if the company doesn't release fully compatible drivers. In many cases AMD hasn't continued to support older cards, not even allowing users to use old versions of the drivers. AMD has also had a lot of issues with proper render support for compositing, which makes a lot of newer DEs not work properly.

Nvida may not always have the best support for brand new cards, but they do put the time in to make it better as time goes on, and actually make their drivers work.

April 28, 2014 | 09:22 PM - Posted by Wendigo (not verified)

The GTX 750 Ti vs 260X is very weird, because the 750 Ti is running to the expected speed if you compare it with its big brother, the GTX 770 (around 50% speed of the GTX 770, or a little more), so the 260X is running above the expected speed that we see from it in windows.

It´s more bizarre if you look to the GTX 290 with its subpar performance (the GTX 770 is a more solid option).

April 29, 2014 | 12:44 AM - Posted by Sonic4Spuds

That is an interesting observation, it seems to make little sense no matter what way you think about it.

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