Report shows that games on SteamOS run much slower than on Windows 10

By midian182
Nov 16, 2015
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  1. Ever since they were first announced about three years ago, many people have questioned if a Steam Machine would be a better option for PC gamers than a traditional desktop/laptop. After all, Valve did say in 2012 that its Linux-based SteamOS allowed for a huge performance boost on an OpenGL-powered port of Left 4 Dead 2. However, a new report from Ars Technica comparing the performance of SteamOS and Windows 10 on the same hardware showed that Microsoft’s OS came out on top in 5 out of 6 gaming benchmarks, with the 6th test resulting in a tie.

    The Ars team used a dual-boot SteamOS/Windows 10 machine for the tests so that the hardware specifications remained the same. They then ran some Geekbench 3 CPU benchmarks which showed Windows 10 had the edge in terms of straight performance, although the site noted that the SteamOS remains "within the same order of power magnitude."

    When it came to gaming, however, there was a much more obvious difference between the two operating systems. The team ran benchmarks on Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor and Metro: Last Light Redux, chosen because they are two of the more graphically-intensive games that have been ported to Linux. More demanding, modern titles, such as The Witcher 3 and Fallout 4, have not been ported to the OS.

    The results showed that SteamOS lagged well behind its Windows counterpart. "No matter how you slice it, running these two high-end titles on SteamOS comes with a sizable frame rate hit; we got anywhere from 21- to 58-percent fewer frames per second, depending on the graphical settings," the site said. "On our hardware running Shadow of Mordor at Ultra settings and HD resolution, the OS change alone was the difference between a playable 34.5FPS average on Windows and a stuttering 14.6 fps mess on SteamOS."

    Even comparing benchmarks using games developed by Valve – Portal, Team Fortress 2, Left 4 Dead 2, and DOTA 2 – showed that Windows 10 performed better than SteamOS. The only exception was Left 4 Dead 2, which gave a similar FPS count on both operating systems.

    "For games like these, which don't push the upper limits of our hardware, most gamers wouldn't even notice the difference between the frame rates listed here," the report said. "Still, it's not a good sign that Valve's own porting efforts generally couldn't get comparable, Windows-level performance out of a SteamOS version."

    It’s thought that main reason behind the poor SteamOS results is due to a lack of Linux optimization, particularly when it comes to video card drivers and the games themselves. Until this problem is addressed, Steam Machines may continue to struggle to find their place in the market.

    Permalink to story.

  2. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 8,430   +2,822

    With all the complaints about Console ports to PC, I'm sure everyone can understand why that one sentence makes this whole article BS. Show me a game that was programmed to run on Linux and runs better on Windows.
    seansplayin and wastedkill like this.
  3. Mandark

    Mandark TS Booster Posts: 76   +22

    The whole idea of linux as a console sucks. NOTHING is made native for it. NOTHING that I want to play. And no, GIMP isn't a game either.

    hahahanoobs and AnonymousSurfer like this.
  4. risc32

    risc32 TS Booster Posts: 187   +75

    I rather you just show us a game that people care about that was programmed on Linux.
    ikesmasher likes this.
  5. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 8,430   +2,822

    Yeah that too, but that's a bit irrelevant to the topic.
  6. yRaz

    yRaz TS Evangelist Posts: 1,838   +884

    This is still a new thing, there is no way this can immediately compete with windows , which has had decades worth of development behind it for use with games. Give it a couple years and these numbers will get more competitive.
    penn919 likes this.
  7. Skidmarksdeluxe

    Skidmarksdeluxe TS Evangelist Posts: 6,352   +1,945

    By saying "a couple of years" I assume you mean two years. I'm not as optimistic as you because who is interested in waiting a couple of years for this thing to shape up? Either Steam get their ducks in a row quickly or gets the hell outta Dodge with their machine.
    It's too much of a dog eat dog industry to let a couple of years tranquilly pass by. I reckon it won't be long before we see the Steam machine consigned to the history books.
  8. Cryio

    Cryio TS Booster Posts: 191   +57

    Linux drivers vs Windows drivers are crap? YOU DON'T SAY.
  9. Captain828

    Captain828 TS Guru Posts: 287   +10

    Can't say I didn't see it coming given that:
    1. most games run on DirectX... Linux can only handle OpenGL (natively), which means having to rewrite your renderer to use that API
    2. drivers for Linux don't get the same love as on Windows

    Valve's bet here is Vulkan (successor to OpenGL), which was presented this year at GDC.

    It will obviously take some time for it to actually get used in AAA titles and once that happens nvidia/AMD will just have to follow suit with good drivers.

    They'll still have to go up against MS' DirectX 12, which also aims to reduce a lot of woes, so it won't be an easy fight.
    psycros and wastedkill like this.
  10. Nobina

    Nobina TS Evangelist Posts: 808   +273

    Nobody is going to wait for them to get up to speed.
  11. yRaz

    yRaz TS Evangelist Posts: 1,838   +884

    Well the OS is free and your probably using windows anyway so I don't understand why you're complaining. This stuff isn't going to happen overnight and it won't happen at all if people don't keep working on it. No one is forcing you to be an early adopter
    infiltrator likes this.
  12. axiomatic13

    axiomatic13 TS Booster Posts: 88   +30

    Vulkan (new OpenGL) could help but I work in HPC clusters a lot and in both Linux and Windows operating systems every day and the number one problem I see in almost any version of Linux kernel is poor identification/optimization of the CPU during install which leads to an upstream kernel WITHOUT all the potential CPU optimizations that Windows can utilize at will. (SSE4.2, AVX 2.0, AES, etc.) AVX would definitely not get used, but all the SSE? You bet cha.
    mosu likes this.
  13. CrisisDog

    CrisisDog TS Booster Posts: 120   +17

    I could blame the two porting companies that bring over the big name titles, Aspyr and Feral Interactive, as their Mac OS X ports are just as bad. But having played around with a good number of titles on all three platforms, I notice in general OpenGL / 3D driver performance is definitely an issue on both Linux and OS X. One interesting thing I found is that certain video cards work very well, and others do not. I can 'almost' get similar performance across all three operating systems with a GTX 780, but bring in a GTX 970 which works slightly better on Windows, and it will drop 40% in performance on OS X and Linux. I wonder if the increase in CUDA cores makes the difference for OpenGL?
  14. seansplayin

    seansplayin TS Rookie

    Linux can compete it's just at a disadvantage when it's ported. Check out Unreal Tournament 4 beta, it runs every bit as good on Linux as it does Windows. The fact that Linux is finally getting the attention it deserves rocks, I switched to Linux bases OS's 3 years ago and I'll never go back to paying Microsoft to spy on me. as for the API wars, I played BF4 with Mantle and was super impressed. AMD handed over Mantle source code to the Khronos group which provided the foundation for Vulkan as well as the majority of the performance increases in Dx12. Vulkan and has support from huge companies and has some cool capabilities like integrated compute.
    check it out:
  15. h4expo

    h4expo TS Enthusiast Posts: 43

    Pretty impressive really seeings how windows is 30 years old. It has had plenty of time to garner support and optimizations compared to Steam OS which is still 0 years old. PS: I'm super excited about Vulkan! Eat your heart out "WaaS".
  16. Skidmarksdeluxe

    Skidmarksdeluxe TS Evangelist Posts: 6,352   +1,945

    Complaining? I don't care enough to complain. If it survives, great. If not, tough. Either way it doesn't make a difference to me.
  17. 3volv3d

    3volv3d TS Booster Posts: 121   +49

    Waiting for steamOS to improve, doesn't sound like an option. Products usually have to hit the ground running, without any market momentum, it runs the risk of being a dead horse.
    Saying that though, it is a Steam product, and they can probably take their time as they have a solid user base of people who are, in essence stuck with them for life, due to the large library of games they have.

    I installed Windows 10 and found Malwarebytes is incompatible with the new OS. Ran a scan, rebooted to remove.... and Windows was still there.

    Slimmer than my 20gb Win7 that grew to 40gb , Win 10 is only 14.1gb. Faster system it seems.
  18. yRaz

    yRaz TS Evangelist Posts: 1,838   +884

    You certainly have very strong opinions for someone who doesn't care
  19. Skidmarksdeluxe

    Skidmarksdeluxe TS Evangelist Posts: 6,352   +1,945

    Not strong opinions, just logic.
  20. Adhmuz

    Adhmuz TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,620   +503

    How is this irrelevant, the topic is SteamOS, which is Linux based, trying to be a gaming platform, that has no games programmed for it. But yes I see now how it could be seen as completely irrelevant.

    Yes, it's up to AMD and Nvidia to get things working for Valve who's trying to make everyone switch to an OS no one wants to use and that has almost no benefits. Valve ain't no Sony or Microsoft, sure they have resources, but they have no reputation in the hardware game, making it a huge gamble to put development towards a potential flop. Sorry to say, but Valve is more or less on their own here.

    I'm not apposed to the idea of having a competing PC platform for Windows, just forcing every game to be overhauled for said platform is a tad absurd. On top of that show no performance advantage by not having the "overhead" of Windows, which these results clearly demonstrate, is not a selling point. Right now the only thing going to Steam OS is the price, but that's not enough given how easily thwarted Windows activation is. For this to be at all feasible as competition it needs to show improvements across the board, and on any title, something were still waiting for.
  21. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 8,430   +2,822

    The irrelevant part was "games that people care about". Please note there is only one game listed in the article that I might care about. The fact that I don't care about the rest is irrelevant to how they actually play on Windows or SteamOS.
  22. WolfieC

    WolfieC TS Rookie

    GTA 5
    Most games are programmed for Linux... Ever heard of that little games console called the PLAYSTATION 4?
  23. yRaz

    yRaz TS Evangelist Posts: 1,838   +884

    They're opinions
  24. Adhmuz

    Adhmuz TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,620   +503

    First you say it's irrelevant, now you say you don't care for the games mentioned. Just because you don't care doesn't make your statement any more valid.

    And for future reference to those throwing around this "I Don't Care" argument, stop that, that's not a valid statement, truly if you didn't care, you wouldn't bother to post in the first place...
  25. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 8,430   +2,822

    Why don't you stop twisting my words.

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