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Review: ATI vs. NVIDIA on Linux - the showdown

by Jo Shields on 16 April 2009, 08:58

Tags: HD 4870 1GB PCS+, GeForce GTX 260 OC, PowerColor (6150.TWO), Inno3D, PC

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qartb

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Round Three: 3D Performance

The selection of truly system-stressing 3D games on Linux remains depressingly small even now - even previously-supportive people, Epic Games, have still failed to deliver Unreal Tournament 3 after over 18 months of waiting. As a result, I've picked four benchmarking apps which I think offer a reasonable workout for the cards on test. All benchmarks are done in the highest detail allowable, at 1,920x1,200, with 4xAA and 16xAF (forced via the card's control panel).

Unigine is a piece of middleware from a small Russian company, with a few future games on its release radar. Unigine Corp has released a couple of nice-looking benchmarkable demos, which happen to have Linux versions - one is a fly-by of a small tropical island, so lots of water effects, and the other is taken inside a small, foggy chapel, so lots of snazzy shadow effects.




LIGHTSMARK 2008 appears a little rudimentary at first glance - however, it seems demanding enough that it's the only test which caused the graphics cards fans to kick up to full speed, and it's essentially a benchmark based on a lighting engine which is being used in some big-name games like Rockstar's L.A. Noire. You can download a copy from here.


The last benchmark is Enemy Territory: Quake Wars. Which is, well, the same as on Windows, really (which is a good thing). I'm using exactly the same input files and settings as the rest of the HEXUS.net team does, so yes, these numbers can be compared directly to numbers found on a Windows-based review.



Winner: A draw. NVIDIA dominates in the Unigine tests - but ATI dominates with LIGHTSMARK. In the only real-world test, ETQW, the results are pretty much equivalent for both cards. NVIDIA probably did a little better overall, but I'm not content to call it for the green team given the LIGHTSMARK results and, here at least, higher price of hardware.