Gaming Performance On SteamOS Is Up To 50% Less Than Windows 10
Valve has thrown quite a bit of itself into their SteamOS, a Linux based operating system which is the heart of their recently released living room based Steam Machine. Despite the promises and hype when it was first announced, delay after delay has somewhat hampered their impact in gaming, despite being the initial push for a new breed of console/PC hybrids, like the Alienware Alpha. All the promise seems to be evaporating, and it’s not helping that the SteamOS is getting woefully worse performance of up to 50% less in gaming benchmarks compared to Windows 10, if early numbers by Ars Technica are anything to go by.
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The test was run on a fairly older system comprised of a Intel Pentium G3220, 8GB of RAM and a GTX 660, a more or less passable budget gaming system. On the system it showed Windows 10 decimating SteamOS across the board, with the difference often being playable in Windows to a stuttering mess in SteamOS. A prime example being Shadow of Mordor, which at the ultra preset only managed 14.6fps in SteamOS, and a playable 34.5fps in Windows 10. Even on the lowest preset, SteamOS managed 55.3fps while Windows got 87fps. It could have been argued that since Shadow of Mordor developers simply did not do enough in helping to develop Linux based GPU drivers for SteamOS, but even Valves own Source based games like Portal or L4D2 did not enjoy any increase in performance over Windows 10. You’d expect the company who designed the SteamOS to at least provide comparable game based driver performance for their OS, but it just goes to show that the thing that will make or break SteamOS is not the hardware or the size of the console, but the driver support on Linux, which just does not seem to be there and is holding back gaming performance by a margin that cannot be spun away. This is just one test, and it’s quite possible that driver support for newer cards might be better going forward, so more testing needs to be done.
At this point it seems that Steam Machines are at a critical juncture, whereby to get up to spec Linux driver support from AAA publishers and GPU makers requires that gamers actually buy Steam Machines, but without any gaming performance increase why could gamers buy a Steam Machine in the first place? It’s quite possible that gamers will simply use the machines and install Windows 10 on it, but if we take Valve stats for OS users on Steam is any indicator of popularity, SteamOS has an uphill battle for relevance in the gaming space.