Linux Gaming News

Ubuntu 11.10 beats out Windows 7 in benchmark grudge match

In the mother of all grudge matches, Tom’s Hardware has pitched Windows 7 against Ubuntu 11.10 in a dizzying array of benchmarks — and the winner might surprise you.

Out of six test categories — Start and stop times, File copy times, Archiving, Multimedia, System, and Gaming — Oneiric Ocelot came out on top in three, while Windows 7 won none. File copying, Multimedia (transcoding, image processing), and System (CPU/memory benchmarks) were all faster on Ubuntu. Even in gaming, often listed as one of the most compelling reasons to use Windows, Ubuntu and Windows are level pegged.

If we break down the categories into specific tests, though, Linux’s victory is slightly less clear cut: Ubuntu won 11 out of 19 tests, with six of those being “significant” (i.e. more than a rounding error); Windows 7 won eight tests, five of which were significant. Windows’ biggest wins were HDD-to-USB copying, LAME encoding, and single-threaded performance (POV-Ray). Ubuntu won in two very important tests, however: HDD-to-HDD copying was some 20% faster than Windows, and Geekbench, a comprehensive memory and CPU benchmark, was almost 30% faster under Ubuntu.

Furthermore, while no victor emerged in Tom’s gaming benchmarks — AMD beats Nvidia under Linux, and vice versa — it’s important to note that the newest game tested was Enemy Territory: Quake Wars, an OpenGL title from 2007. No DirectX games were tested — but considering Linux can’t play modern, DirectX games like Crysis 2, a direct comparison is impossible. Likewise, programs like Photoshop

Ultimately, then, Ubuntu 11.10 is significantly faster than Windows for some tasks — but, as always, you cannot escape the fact that we live in a Windows-dominated world. If you want to play bleeding-edge games, you need to run Windows. If you want to run Photoshop or any other number of big software suites, you can’t use Linux. You can’t even use Netflix Instant under Linux. This isn’t to say that big-name developers like Adobe won’t one day port their software to Linux, but with some 95% of PC users running either Windows or OS X, and with dozens of breeds of Linux that would need to be supported, it’s unlikely to happen soon.

Check out the full set of benchmarks at Tom’s Hardware, or hit up our Ubuntu 11.10 walkthrough