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
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


View All Comments

  • rainyday - Thursday, December 31, 2009 - link

    in my opinion linux is not yet ready for mass market use.

    linux still has inferior file management to windows. still no native file icon support in executable, icon association is annoying too. explorer is still superior than natilus/thunar in feature and presentation/interface.

    uninstalling and upgrading programs in linux is still annoying and complicated. there are many ways to install a program (synaptic, rpm/deb, tarball, bin, subversion etc) and at least some of them are still annoying. these are pretty big issue for gaming.

    file sharing and networking can still be unnecessarily complicated and there is still no user friendly driver installation procedure like windows.

    devices in linux still work at generic mode, but windows users are used to having drivers tailors to their hardwares with all features enabled and usually have better presentation and interface.

    in my opinion linux can be used as windows alternative only in computers having routine and specific duties. like checking counters at shopping malls, in cyber-cafes, children's school class room etc.

  • boltronics - Sunday, May 09, 2010 - link

    > linux still has inferior file management to windows.
    Dreaming. Spoken like a real Windows user who has no understanding of anything else. Why are you in the "Linux" section?

    > still no native file icon support in executable,
    Thanks for the laugh. Funniest thing I've read all day. :)

    > explorer is still superior than natilus
    That's funny too (and I don't just mean your incorrect spelling). Last I checked, Explorer didn't support tabs. Nautilus also includes built-in support for all kinds of protocols too, such as SFTP. I can't think of a single way Nautilus loses to Windows Explorer.

    > uninstalling and upgrading programs in linux is still annoying and complicated.
    What? Learn the package manager GUI and never worry about installing or removing again too hard for you? Give me a break. You think manually installing from a CD or manually searching a website for an installer in Windows is easier? Windows doesn't even have a single consistent installation procedure - every program requires different steps and uses a different wizard. And how do you update those Windows programs? You open every single program and run the "Check for Updates" option or visit all the websites you downloaded the programs from to see if there's something new? No thanks - I've got more interesting things to spend my time on.

    On the off chance I actually wanted to compile a program on GNU/Linux that wasn't in a package management system, it's almost always configure, make, make install. I wouldn't have the faintest idea how to do it under Windows. I'm pretty sure it would involve manually installing a compiler... and if you don't compile code under Windows, why would you mention installing software by compiling it under GNU/Linux?

    > file sharing and networking can still be unnecessarily complicated
    That has been the exact opposite of my experience.

    > and there is still no user friendly driver installation procedure like windows.
    That's because it is just so rare to ever need to install a driver. Drivers should be included as a module that came with your kernel, and as such should work automatically. The only main exceptions are ATI and nVidia proprietary graphics card drivers which are required for running some proprietary games, and even here a growing number of distributions have these available for installation through your package management system. Generally, you won't ever need to do a thing. As such, GNU/Linux clearly dominates in this area too.

    > devices in linux still work at generic mode, but windows users are used to having drivers tailors to
    > their hardwares with all features enabled and usually have better presentation and interface.
    When it comes to ease of use, consistency is more important than having some unique interface. eg, I can tweak the settings of any installed printer using the CUPS web interface, and can also do this in the same way on basically any modern distribution. On Windows you likely have a different utility to change settings for every printer. How is that a benefit to the end user? It's just confusing and annoying. Unnecessary clutter.

    As you might imagine, I fully disagree with your opinion. After all, I'm typing this in Firefox on GNU/Linux.
  • Headfoot - Wednesday, December 30, 2009 - link

    Linux is only free if your time has no value. Reply
  • DominionSeraph - Wednesday, December 30, 2009 - link

    Drop the GNU. Let Microsoft incorporate DirectX with copyright protections.
    Not rocket science.
  • marraco - Wednesday, December 30, 2009 - link

    I have lots of games from before Windows XP, like some tomb raiders, and need for speed 4.

    They no more run on windows. No support. No compatibility. (and don't even try to run a game with a 16 bit installer on a 64 bit windows).

    At that older times, nI never had a top video card to run them on all his full glory, and I was somewat disapointed. I just wish to run NFS4 with full antialiasing, and on his full glory.

    I hope they run on Linux. That way linux can add more games that windows.
  • shangshang - Thursday, December 31, 2009 - link

    while you're at it, why not go back further to make DOS games run under linux too, that way even more games will run under linux.

  • Penti - Thursday, December 31, 2009 - link

    Lol already done, but DOXBox/Dosemu works in windows too. Reply
  • Gonemad - Monday, November 08, 2010 - link

    In fact, reading through the Dosbox "boot" and readme's you stumble on a lot of things seen in a Linux boot, suggesting the thing was first released to Linux, than ported BACK to Windows, which adds to the irony.

    Windows doesn´t support DOS games, but Linux does. How absurd.

    Some games even play better on Dosbox than on native DOS, because of the 640kB memory thingy that was a real pain in the neck back then.
  • Schugy - Wednesday, December 30, 2009 - link

    In theory wine/cedega has to be slower but as long as it is playable it is ok.

    Other competition is free Intel Linux graphics driver vs. Intel Windows graphics driver or AMD Catalyst Windows vs Catalyst Linux vs open Radeon or Radeon HD driver.

    This article was rather disappointing
  • flywheeldk - Tuesday, December 29, 2009 - link

    This article is utter B.S. - unless you do another article focusing on running native Linux games on Windows - then it would just be completely pointless.


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