Shadow of the Tomb Raider: Linux vs Windows

One of the most determining factors when a person is choosing an operating system, its performance in games. With that in mind, we decided to compare the performance of a recent Triple A, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, between Windows and a Linux distribution.

As that old saying goes: "Old habits die hard". It is difficult to lose old habits and kill old myths, which for a long time are no longer a reality. Unfortunately, the belief that Linux systems are difficult, only for hackers, and do not run games is still true in the minds of many people, especially those who are not familiar with the current reality of Linux systems.

Combating this type of misinformation is one of the "keys" we hit most here at Diolinux. This was one of the main reasons for creating our channel on Twitch about a year ago, and since then we have shown daily how perfectly possible it is to use a Linux system for games today, and in most cases it is extremely easy to do.

Before we continue, it is important to make it clear that every time you read the term "Linux" in this article, I am referring to Linux distributions for desktop in general.

The game we are going to test today reports the third chapter of Lara Croft's story, it was released in September 2018, and had its Linux version released in October this year (2019). When it comes to technology, as if time has passed faster, but even though it has been about a year since the launch of Shadow of the Tomb Raider, it is still a current game, with excellent graphics, and played by many people, that made it the perfect choice for this comparison.

The Benchmark

Knowing that recording the screen without a capture card causes a negative effect on the performance of the games, which would end up hurting our tests. For this reason, I will present the results through text and prints of the benchmark results.

On the Linux side we have the KDE Neon in version 5.17.4, using the AMDGPU driver present in Linux kernel 5.0 and the Driver Table 20.0 (Padoka PPA). The graphical API used Vulkan. On the Windows 10 Home side we have version 1909 with the driver Radeon Software Adrenaline 2020 edition 19.1, the graphical API used DirectX 12.

The hardware used a Ryzen 5 2600 3.8Ghz, 2×8 GB DDR4 2666Mhz and a Radeon RX580 8GB. The game was tested in 1080p, on high preset and with VSync turned off.

In the images below you can see the results of the Shadow of the Tomb Raider's own benchmark, as well as the graphical settings, and operating system on which the tests were performed.

Let's get to the results in Windows 10.

In the Windows version, the benchmark resulted in an average of 70 FPS, with a minimum of 56 and 11039 frames generated. In gameplay tests, during the first ten minutes of the game (not counting cutscenes), the game showed an average of 70 FPS, with fluctuations between 63 and 88 FPS.

Now for the test results on Linux.

In the Linux version the benchmark resulted in an average of 50 FPS, with a minimum of 41 and 8027 frames generated. In gameplay tests, during the first ten minutes of the game (not counting cutscenes), the game showed an average of 50 FPS, with fluctuations between 45 and 65 FPS. In the Linux version with vsync turned off, there was a lot of stuttering, which did not happen in the Windows version.

About the results

When comparing the performance of the game on both systems we noticed a difference of about 20 FPS, which in my case turned out not to be a big problem, since even on Linux the game remains perfectly playable. In fact, I can only tell the difference in FPS if the meter is on. Besides, I could decrease graphics a bit, improving the frame rate, and the loss of quality would be practically imperceptible to the eye.

Fortunately, I don't usually play with connected FPS counters, I use them only for testing purposes, so my gaming experience with Shadow of the Tomb Raider on Linux has never been compromised, since my eyes don't notice any slows while I'm playing.

However, 20 FPS is still a really big difference. In my case, with the average dropping from 70 to 50, this difference ended up not being very noticeable. But imagine a person with simpler hardware, who can run the game for an average of 40 ~ 50 FPS on Windows. Following the results of this test, the average that person would achieve in Linux would be 20 ~ 30 FPS. That is, the game would go from playable to practically non-playable. Despite being the same 20 frames of difference, when we lower the numbers a little the difference in the game experience becomes extremely greater.

It is important to make it clear that the differences in game performance between Linux and Windows can vary with each game, and even with the hardware used. In this case, Shadow of the Tomb Raider performed much less well on the Penguin system, but in other cases the performance may be exactly the same, or even better on Linux. It's a question of how the games you like run on your machine, so that you can know if in your case you are going to use only Linux or not a good idea.

Below you can see a video benchmark, made by Renato do blog and channel FastOS.


Note.: For clarification purposes, the following excerpt is based on my opinion, and does not represent the positioning of the Diolinux project and its other members on the subject.

At the end of the day, we can say that Linux is a platform for games as good as Windows?

Well, in general, definitely not!

It is very clear to me that when it comes to games Windows is still way ahead of any Linux distribution. However, this does not mean that Windows will necessarily be a better option for everyone. When choosing between two or more operating systems, we must analyze all that these systems have to offer, and how well each one meets our needs in all aspects, not just in games.

Nowadays a very large number of games, including many Triple A and extremely popular games run on Linux with a very close, equal performance, and in some cases even superior to Windows. And they can be installed without any kind of workaround, using the same or very similar procedures to install them on Windows. So if the games you play are part of that huge list of the ones that work, then to you Linux will be as good a gaming platform as Windows. On the other hand, if the games you like don't run or don't perform satisfactorily on Linux, the best option for games remains Windows.

That said, stating that Linux is generally not for games, has few titles, and only unknown games are completely misinformed! Just as Windows will be a system that serves a greater number of users in a more complete way in terms of games, at the moment it is still a fact!

Your turn!

Now it's time for you to give your opinion on the matter! What is your experience with games on Linux? And more importantly, this experience how long ago? When it comes to games, the platform is evolving very quickly, and it is quite possible that a game that didn't work a month ago is fully functional today. Then report in the comments below your positive and negative experiences with games on Linux, and give your opinion politely and always respecting the opposite opinions.

Let's collaborate so that together we can make Linux even better.

Do you like Linux and technology? Do you have any questions or problems that you cannot solve? Come be part of our community in Diolinux Plus!

This is all personal!

Have you seen any errors or would you like to add any suggestions to this article? Collaborate, click here.