Linux Gaming: Are We There Yet?by Christopher Rice on December 28, 2009 2:00 PM EST
- Posted in
The Test Setup
One of the great things about Linux is that there are hundreds of distributions available for us to utilize. We are selecting Arch Linux (64-bit) for a few different reasons. The Arch base install is small and does not come packed with pre-configured running services. This will remove any question about what might be running in the background that affects gaming performance.
Arch also has a bleeding-edge implementation of packages. One thing I find in a lot of comments with Linux performance reviews is the standard question, "Did you try the new package that was just released on this nonstandard repository?" Here we will reduce this problem drastically, allowing us to test the latest and greatest Linux has to offer. For the Windows side of testing, we will be using Windows 7 Ultimate, so we'll compare the most up-to-date Linux build with the latest offering from Microsoft. Here are the details of our test system.
|Processor||Intel Core i7-920 Overclocked to 3.97GHz
(Quad-core + HTT, 45nm, 8MB L3, 4x512KB L2)
|RAM||OCZ 3x2GB DDR3-1600 (PC3 12800)|
|Motherboard||ASUS Rampage II Extreme|
|Hard Drives||2 x 74GB Raptors in RAID 0|
|Video Card||EVGA 280 GTX 1GB|
|Operating Systems||Arch Linux (64-bit)
Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit
|Drivers||NVIDIA 191.07 (windows)
NVIDIA 190.42 (Linux)
Below is a shortened list of packages relevant for our test on Arch Linux. We will be running on a standard Gnome desktop without all the graphical bells and whistles (i.e. compiz, etc.)
|Arch Linux Packages|
Our game selection will be a mixture of genres and release dates. One of the complexities of benchmarking in Linux is the lack of FRAPS or a FRAPS alternative. We have selected games that have built-in benchmarking abilities or at least the option to display FPS. Originally we were looking at testing very recent game releases in our Linux lab. However, after spending many weeks of unsuccessful attempts to get them to work across all three Wine distributions, we fell back to some older release games. We will provide more information on the newer releases tested at the end of this article.
|Eve Online||MMORPG (Space/Sci-Fi)||Built-in FPS Display|
|Team Fortress 2||Older FPS||Built-in Timedemo|
|TrackMania||Racing Simulation||Built-in Benchmark|
|Unreal Tournament 3||Somewhat Current FPS||Built-in Benchmark (War-Serenity)|
|3DMark06||Benchmark||Standard Settings (1280x1024)|
Most of the games include in-game benchmarking. We run each benchmark three times and take the average of the three runs for our final results. Eve Online requires the use of the in-game FPS utility. With Eve we found an empty station and recorded FPS exiting the station (180 Seconds). Again we ran these tests three times and use the average of each. Once the benchmarking was completed, I took the time to get in and play the games in order to ensure functionality and find any defects with the gameplay.