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.

Test System
Component Description
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
Package Version
Gnome 2.28.1
Xorg-Server 1.7.1
NVIDIA 190.42
Kernel 2.6.31.5
Wine 1.1.32
Cedega 7.4

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.

Game Selection
Title Genre Benchmark Method
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.

Wine Projects: Which Vintage? Linux Gaming Performance
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  • ravaneli - Tuesday, December 29, 2009 - link

    I meant the 64-b version of Ubuntu will not install on my RAID0. And even if it did, does Ubuntu support SLI? Reply
  • ChristopherRice - Tuesday, December 29, 2009 - link

    What raid controller are you using? And yes nvidia supports sli in linux. Reply
  • ravaneli - Tuesday, December 29, 2009 - link

    The motherboard controller, not sure what it is. Gigabyte EP45T UD3LR.

    Do I need to download and install anything in Ubuntu to enable SLI? Like NVidia driver for Ubuntu?
    Reply
  • ChristopherRice - Tuesday, December 29, 2009 - link

    Using the on-board fake raid controller? Reply
  • ChristopherRice - Tuesday, December 29, 2009 - link

    Tell you what, send me an email and I can get you in information your looking for. Reply
  • ravaneli - Tuesday, December 29, 2009 - link

    I tried to look up your email but failed. How do u send an email to a member?

    ANyway, you are correct. Using the on board Intel raid controller.

    I can't install XP without the Intel driver on a floppy too. Is there a similar trick for Ubuntu?

    My email is veskovasilev @ yahoo or gmail
    Reply
  • ChristopherRice - Tuesday, December 29, 2009 - link

    I know your using ubuntu, however arch has an awesome wiki on this. I'm sure some other ubuntu users can grab your specific wiki on installing over fake raid. However below is the link for archlinux fake raid. To be honest you should use software raid rather then fake raid. Although for this article I did use fakeraid to stay true to the setup.


    http://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Installing_wit...">http://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Installing_wit...
    Reply
  • ravaneli - Wednesday, December 30, 2009 - link

    I looked at that and got really scared. If I have to assign a probability to me doing all of this right, it would be below 5%.

    This is what I don't like in Linux. It is still quite user unfriendly. If you just browse the web and don't need anything other that the programs (good list) it comes with, then it is fine. But any kind if adjustment to a different purpose is a nightmare if you are not a programmer.

    Anyway, I thank you sincerely for your help! I will be building a new machine soon, and will use SSD instead of RAID0 for speed, and I will make the dual boot there.
    Reply
  • stmok - Tuesday, December 29, 2009 - link

    At least the author is a fellow Arch Linux user! ;)

    As for the feedback around here, its the same thing over and over again. (As with other tech websites).

    (1) Most open source devs don't care for mainstream consumers. The software they wrote is made for their needs...They're happy to share it with everyone, and allow modifications/improvements using a community model.

    So trying to threaten them with comments like "Linux will never attain Windows marketshare" is pretty much an empty one. They'll just ignore you.

    (2) ...Nor do they care for desktop marketshare. Why would they care if its not their business to begin with? Apple and Microsoft are businesses; desktop marketshare means a lot to them. Its their core and they build services/apps around it.

    (3) Its "desktop" distro developers like Canonical (Ubuntu), etc that care about the mainstream user's needs. The overall goal of such organizations is to eventually use Linux as a platform for commercial applications sold via online store. (I'm not sure that would work well, as this approach has failed in the past).

    (4) Using ONE distro (like Ubuntu) is NOT representative of ALL Linux. To really appreciate Linux; you'd have to delve into distros like Debian, Arch, Gentoo, Sidux, etc. The reason being, no one distro is made EXACTLY the same.

    eg:

    Arch Linux is a rolling release distro: You get regular updates instead of specific distro version releases. Its main advantage is that changes are gradual over time.

    Ubuntu is a point release distro: Its fixed at releasing specific versions of applications. Changes here, are encountered as distinct "bump ups". You'll often end up formating/installing a new release than upgrading because new versions of components can cause weird issues.

    (5) Linux will never be for the mainstream user, so get it out of your heads...And it shouldn't bother. That's not its strength.

    Linux's real strength is in servers (infrastructure), super computers (clusters), purpose specific systems/workstations, embedded devices, and enthusiasts who prefer what Linux offers and are willing to go through the learning curve.

    If you're just a computer user who's doesn't want to endure any learning curve and just want to use a computer; don't bother with Linux. Its best if you shift responsibility to a third party like Microsoft or Apple by paying for their solutions.

    Linux brings responsibility to the user. Some folks make not like that, so it really won't work for them.

    As for games? Buy a console. :)
    Reply
  • haplo602 - Wednesday, December 30, 2009 - link

    Amen to that ... finaly a comment worth reading ... Reply

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