Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Compare cell phone plans using Wirefly's innovative plan comparison tool ×
Operating Systems Linux Games

SteamOS Gaming Performance Lags Well Behind Windows (arstechnica.com) 184

New submitter NotDrWho writes: As reported by Ars Technica: "With this week's official launch of Valve's Linux-based Steam Machine line (for non-pre-orders), we decided to see if the new OS could stand up to the established Windows standard when running games on the same hardware. Unfortunately for open source gaming supporters, it looks like SteamOS gaming comes with a significant performance hit on a number of benchmarks." They tested with two graphically intensive titles from 2014, Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor and Metro: Last Light Redux. They say, "we got anywhere from 21- to 58-percent fewer frames per second, depending on the graphical settings. On our hardware running Shadow of Mordor at Ultra settings and HD resolution, the OS change alone was the difference between a playable 34.5 fps average on Windows and a stuttering 14.6 fps mess on SteamOS." Even most of Valve's own games took big performance hits when running under SteamOS.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

SteamOS Gaming Performance Lags Well Behind Windows

Comments Filter:
  • by ottawanker ( 597020 ) on Friday November 13, 2015 @02:14PM (#50923729) Homepage

    .. is the extra $199 you save by not having to buy a Windows license enough to make up for the frame rate difference if you divert that cash to your video card fund?

    • it's $199 retail. when you buy a new computer the included windows license costs your OEM a lot less. more like $50 or less depending on volume and discounts
      • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

        it's $199 retail. when you buy a new computer the included windows license costs your OEM a lot less. more like $50 or less depending on volume and discounts

        You don't even need a new computer, OEM licenses apply to hardware alone. Meaning you can buy a dvd/bluray drive/stick of ram/etc and be covered as OEM hardware. People have been doing the oem+hardware bit since the '90's. You can also find cheap keys on various software trading forums, or you can wait for MS to offer the el-cheapo OS upgrade, like they did with Win8. Lot of people I know who pirated Win7, went legit with Win8 because they could buy the upgrade for $9-15USD.

      • it's $199 retail. when you buy a new computer the included windows license costs your OEM a lot less. more like $50 or less depending on volume and discounts

        Depending on the crapware that comes preloaded in the computer the OEM cost may be even negative.

    • It's $96 on Amazon.

    • To start our tests, we dragged out the dual-boot SteamOS/Windows machine we first built nearly two years ago (when making our own dual-boot how-to guide) and got all the operating systems and drivers up to date. ...that hardware is remaining static for both sides of the test.

      Same machine. New video card - still same machine.

    • Sounds like a great solution until it's time to upgrade and you're back to lagging behind Windows. Actually, that makes it a terrible solution.
      • I've found that, when a game has a linux version, the lower overhead of linux vs windows often results in better performance. It's by no means surefire, but it happens reasonably often. And I have an ATI card with the supposedly shitty ATI linux drivers.
    • More like $10. You can buy an OEM-license for Windows for bits and peanuts, like I had to buy a new license for a machine I just set up yesterday for a customer. If you save $10 by going to Linux, but lose 40% of your performance... well, I don't quite think it is worth it.

    • by nhat11 ( 1608159 )

      Nope, as a gamer and rigs that aren't top of the line, every advantage of frames count plus keeping the graphics up on medium/high settings.

  • Most people don't make their choice of OS based on any sort of relevant information, including benchmarks. Windows fanboys will shout "I told you Windows was better!" FOSS evangelists will claim it's good enough, and worth it to 1) not have to pay for an OS and 2) not have to support a corrupt corporation. MAC fanboys will say "You two and your little fight are cute. I'm going to go pay a lot of money to purchase something that's exactly the same as the last one I purchased". Technology holy wars are no be
    • No, but gaming companies will not focus on Linux if the performance is poor. The question is who is going to fix this? Do kernel developers at the moment have a vested interest in bringing Linux (drivers) on par with Windows, or is that job left to gaming companies like Steam.

  • Probably drivers, I imagine, or is the OS architecture a limitation by itself?
    • The Shadow of Mordor port is garbage. Glean nothing more from its particular benchmark than that.

  • Just to be clear (Score:5, Informative)

    by gQuigs ( 913879 ) on Friday November 13, 2015 @02:29PM (#50923883) Homepage

    These tests were done on their own custom built steam machine from 2 years ago. (Mentioned in article)
    They have an older video card and older CPU than any of the steam machines for sale.

    I'm guessing most optimization work has gone into the latest nVidia series rather than 1-2 previous ones.

    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      Seems Ars' recent reviews suggest they don't really care anymore about the quality of the review, but click bait and views.

      • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

        by CrashNBrn ( 1143981 )
        Pretty much. Since they opened Ars-UK and hired some women to do fluff-feeling pieces. In addition a few of their "writers" (UK&US) use Ars for little more than a personal blog.
    • The video card is question is the series of Nvidia card that had 2G of memory but could only physically address 1.5G without a massive penalty to rendering. In the windows driver the last 0.5gb was basically turned off and only used as an absolute last resort.

      Clearly the same optimization for bad design doesn't exist on the Linux side. Personally I think that was a stupid choice of GPU to test with, though it's sure generating the clicks they want.

  • sample... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Fwipp ( 1473271 ) on Friday November 13, 2015 @02:32PM (#50923915)

    On one machine, in two games.

    I recognize that testing this sort of stuff on a wide variety of hardware and with many games is hard, and that they haven't had the time yet to put together a thorough analysis. But you should really qualify your results, like "preliminary testing has indicated that Steam OS performance may be worse than Windows 10 performance in some games on certain hardware configurations."

    But that makes for a terrible headline :p

    One of my primary suspects for the difference is the video card - how well optimized are the Linux drivers?

    • One of my primary suspects for the difference is the video card - how well optimized are the Linux drivers?

      They used an nVidia card, so it's not necessarily the most likely culprit like an ATI card would be.

    • > One of my primary suspects for the difference is the video card - how well optimized are the Linux drivers?

      One million times better (for games) than 2 year ago, thanks to Valve.
    • But you should really qualify your results, like "preliminary testing has indicated that Steam OS performance may be worse than Windows 10 performance in some games on certain hardware configurations."

      "certain hardware configurations" implies that the problem only occurs on some hardware setups but not others. Right now we have no reason to think that's the case. Where are the hardware setups where all is great? It's more likely that this is a widespread problem.

      • "certain hardware configurations" implies that the problem only occurs on some hardware setups but not others. Right now we have no reason to think that's the case. Where are the hardware setups where all is great? It's more likely that this is a widespread problem.

        It would be a more interesting test to take an actual steam machine, test the games on that hardware and then dual boot to windows on the same machine.

    • One of my primary suspects for the difference is the video card - how well optimized are the Linux drivers?

      "Welcome, stranger! Come, sit by our hearth and tell us of this distant strange land you come from!"

    • One of my primary suspects for the difference is the video card - how well optimized are the Linux drivers?

      On an absolute scale, probably not as well-optimized as the Windows one. But Nvidia's Linux drivers [phoronix.com] have consistently been better-performing than AMD's versions [phoronix.com]. Intel's Linux drivers [phoronix.com] have had problems, too, and their dependence on Mesa has meant that a lot of recent OpenGL features haven't been exposed. Plus Intel's hardware is significantly slower than AMD or Nvidia's offerings.

    • Re:sample... (Score:4, Informative)

      by gerddie ( 173963 ) on Friday November 13, 2015 @03:19PM (#50924407)

      One of my primary suspects for the difference is the video card - how well optimized are the Linux drivers?

      Actually, it is has been shown that on the same hardware (with NVidia card) for Metrox Redux it is just a question of SSAA [youtu.be] being on or off.

      • by nnull ( 1148259 )
        It also really depends on the game as well. But SLI is still a massive failure on linux, until that is resolved, will we actually see some real gains.
    • Steam OS performance may be worse than Windows 10 performance in some games on certain hardware configurations.

      This is exactly the sort of thing that gamers shouldn't have to worry about.

  • by BenJeremy ( 181303 ) on Friday November 13, 2015 @02:37PM (#50923965)

    I guess that is too hard for Slashdot editors to write.

    Nothing new here, but at least things seem to be changing, even if it's slow going. Who really expected the same or better performance at this point? Until Linux becomes mainstream (and by that, I mean holds at least 15% of the desktops), it will always be a "back burner" kind of thing for GPU manufacturers; not to mention the fractious bickering (usually over nitpicky crap) that pelts anybody who steps in to try and improve the situation.

    This article's headline kind of exemplifies some of the problem - directing scorn and criticism on those who are trying to make things better.

  • I keep saying this, every time SteamOS is mentioned. I would love it to work, I would love it to take off, and I would absolutely LOVE to be wrong about this, but performance is only one of the ways this thing is going to lag behind Windows. No way is Valve getting all the major studios to port their main games to Linux. SteamOS is going to be fine if you just need to have games and you don't really care which ones they are, and Steam does have a plethora of small/cheap games. But if you want Fallout 4, sor

    • by ledow ( 319597 ) on Friday November 13, 2015 @02:59PM (#50924215) Homepage

      It has little to do with the games. Waiting for some magical moment where everything happens and AAA games come out on stable, fast drivers is insanity.

      What happens is you get a field-leader, like Steam. They start down the road of Linux. They get several HUNDREDS of games that weren't on Linux onto Linux by encouraging it. This now prompts stories like this where performance OF THE PROPRIETARY AND FREE GRAPHICS DRIVERS is brought to the fore.

      The games aren't slow. The OS isn't slow. It's the graphics drivers. Now nVidia are shown up - pushing out flagship products from a major player but let down by the quality of Linux drivers. So they are now encouraged / bullied into making those drivers the equivalent of the Windows drivers. This makes those drivers more popular. More people are going to have cards that use them (even if just Steam Boxes). Now there's slightly more of an excuse for games developers to target Linux too. So now the quality of the drivers matters that little bit more. So nVidia/AMD improve the drivers a little more. Which encourages more benchmarks to show the leaps and bounds. So they get press from it. Which means more developers target SteamOS as part of their engines and platforms. And so on... ad infinitum.

      We waited ten years for something to "Just Happen" in terms of graphic driver quality - both free and proprietary - to bring Linux drivers up to par with Windows. It didn't happen. So Valve are breaking the deadlock, removing the stalemate and saying "Your move, nVidia" - one of their partners, who is going to get bad press for having crap Linux drivers. nVidia will respond in time. And, incrementally, things will start to improve.

      Good on Valve I say. Good for Linux. Probably not so good for nVidia et al but they've been dragging their feet anyway. And, ultimately, good for the consumer. But if we only used the one thing that worked and is top-speed and competitive and expensive, ATI/AMD wouldn't exist, Windows and nVidia would be on every console, and the situation would be even worse because of the lack of competition. Now that someone's seriously pushing gaming on Linux, and shows these shortfalls to the people SELLING PARTS OF THIS HARDWARE, there might well be a push to get more optimised drivers running on Linux for that hardware.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Jethro ( 14165 )

        Like I said, I'd love to be wrong, and I'd LOVE my gaming PC to be running SteamOS instead of Windows. But I want to play Mass Effect and Fallout and Skyrim and Tomb Raider and Battlefronts and Uncharted and Assassin's Creed.

        That's MY definition of a Casual Gamer - I get a relatively low number of games, but I play the hell out of them. I switched to PC because consoles became a really unfriendly environment for people like me, and Steam is just way the heck off. To play the games I want on PC right now I n

      • by VVelox ( 819695 )

        The Nvidia drivers are fine. We don't have the performance issues with them over here on FreeBSD that people on Linux do. Graphics have honestly been very consistently better and smoother on FreeBSD than Linux for the most part.

      • by Kjella ( 173770 )

        It'd be a little more convincing if nVidia wasn't the only game in town Valve has. They don't care if they sell you a graphics card for a Windows or SteamOS box. AMD is too economically crippled to make a strategic investment and Intel still isn't what I'd put in a game console. In short, Steam boxes could flop and it'd be a much bigger deal for Valve than nVidia. So I guess we'll see, it might light a fire under their feet but I wouldn't bet on it.

      • The games aren't slow. The OS isn't slow. It's the graphics drivers.

        No, it is a combination of all of those things as has been explained many times before. Like here [extremetech.com] for instance.

  • by Mr. McGibby ( 41471 ) on Friday November 13, 2015 @02:59PM (#50924205) Homepage Journal

    He used some machine he had in the corner. How about using an actual Steam Machine?

    • He used some machine he had in the corner.

      They used a machine that they built recently for the purpose of demonstrating dual-booting, which included an nVidia-based video card and other hardware selected for Linux compatibility. While using an actual Steam Machine would be interesting, there are far more Windows users who are contemplating their next OS decision than probably Steam Machine customers. It's kind of spendy.

      • They used a machine that they built recently for the purpose of demonstrating dual-booting

        He used a computer set up two years ago which isn't that recent.

        While using an actual Steam Machine would be interesting, there are far more Windows users who are contemplating their next OS decision than probably Steam Machine customers. It's kind of spendy.

        I disagree. This is more like a console and I think most people interested in the SteamOS will be those buying it prebuilt.

        I see it as an amazing show of goodwill by Steam that they released it and made it "easy" for those that like using linux to install.

  • If spend the cost of a Windows licence on better hardware how does the performance compare?

    • If spend the cost of a Windows licence on better hardware how does the performance compare?

      That depends. How much did you spend on your video card? You can get a Windows 7 Pro license for a hundred bucks, I did. I spent two hundred on my card. Another hundred wouldn't really improve things that much. If I'd only spent a hundred, then I think I'd come to another conclusion. But then there would still be the many, many games which you can't run on Linux at all.

      If you compare to a full-retail copy of Windows 7 Pro from the store at $199, then you get a substantially better video card for your money,

  • by Dega704 ( 1454673 ) on Friday November 13, 2015 @03:00PM (#50924223)

    As soon as I saw the headline I was curious which games they had tested with. As soon as I saw Shadow of Mordor I cringed. It is well known that its Linux performance is extremely subpar. The fact of the matter is that Linux ports and drivers have seen nowhere near the time and effort put into performance tuning as their Windows counterparts. Until Vulkan gears up and SteamOS gains more inertia, I don't expect any different.

    For the record, though, Shadow of Mordor is the only Linux game I have not been able to play on max settings with my GTX 970; and despite having to crank it down a bit, it still works flawlessly. As a Linux gamer I am more than content with how fast things are progressing. Why rate and comment on the runners' performance when they haven't even finished warming up?

  • Make Half Life 3 only available on SteamOS. Problem solved.
    • That would be nice, but Valve made it pretty clear they won't roll that way (despite pushing Steam initially by requiring it for Half Life 2 :P). Maybe an earlier release on SteamOS and/or make the SteamOS version free or half price?
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Valve's half-assed approach to SteamOS has pretty much ensured its failure from day one. If they had released ONE Steambox with a set configuration (like other console manufacturers), than maybe it would have had a chance. As it was, they just took the laziest possible approach, passing it off to other hardware manufacturers and letting them assume all the risks (and giving them freedom to produce a slew of confusing options). In essence, Steamboxes have the worst faults of both the PC and console worlds (a

        • You get the lower power and lack of versatility of consoles

          I was under the impression that SteamOS supported community-created mods, unlike consoles, and had an Exit to GNOME option [howtogeek.com] unlike consoles since the release of PlayStation 3 system software 3.21.

  • by JustNiz ( 692889 ) on Friday November 13, 2015 @04:13PM (#50925011)

    I believe many if not most games on Steam For Linux are actually windows versions literally wrapped in what amounts to their propriety/in-house branch of the wine environment.

    In this case it seems both unrealistic and unfair to make performance comparisons between running what a windows-native app on Windows, and then on Linux where it requires an extra significant overhead of API translation because the app itself was never designed or built to run on Linux-native APIs.

    • I believe many if not most games on Steam For Linux are actually windows versions literally wrapped in what amounts to their propriety/in-house branch of the wine environment.

      AFAIK I don't think any Linux games are based on wine (I'm assuming you mean TransGaming?, but don't know of any reason why anyone would target Wine emulation. Some developers or published admitted their titles worked under Wine but make no effort to target or support it), but most are more likely to be based on OpenGL porting for Mac or OpenGL ES porting for mobile targets (phones and tablets).

      A number of major and minor game and graphic engines include Linux targets (Unity, Torque, Unreal - with caveats,

      • by JustNiz ( 692889 )

        Sorry if I wasn't being clear. I didn't mean to imply that game developers would ever target Wine, that would be wierd.
        I meant that as a quick way to get a large number of games onto Steam for Linux, Valve developed a wine-like wrapper so they could just wrap existing windows versions (i.e. already compiled) and run that on Linux, rather than have to port the source code and make native versions.
        Their approach was a quick solution but one that will never be perfect compared to a native version. The obvious

  • by flacco ( 324089 ) on Saturday November 14, 2015 @01:34AM (#50928617)

    ...but I got the sense that Ars Technica pretty much sucks Microsoft cock all day long.

    This is based mainly on their attitude toward the privacy issues related to Windows 10, but I noticed other corroborating data points.

    • They suck Microsoft's left testicle, jiggle and lick Google's right testicle all the while stroking the entire shaft of that Apple dong. But then again, that's what certain Ars writers tend to do, fanboy/girl the shit out of their favorites.

  • There are now a larger number of eyes on the problem. I expect there will be a significant performance improvement over the next few months as the causes for the delays are isolated.

  • Linux gaming is in it's infancy, but in a short time things have already improved a lot.
    I remember a time when windows was starting to get games, and performance was just horrible. Together with my friends we just laughed about the idea of windows as a viable gaming platform, it couldn't even touch DOS. Look at where we are now.

"If you don't want your dog to have bad breath, do what I do: Pour a little Lavoris in the toilet." -- Comedian Jay Leno

Working...