Ars Technica did a performance analysis on a dual boot system and found that games performed anywhere between 21% and 58% worse depending on graphical settings with SteamOS than Windows 10 using the same hardware. This sure paints a grim future for the operating system as gamers try to get every ounce of performance from their systems.
The machine they did the tests on was no beast machine, but since the same machine was used for all tests it provided a solid and fair test. The machine’s specs include an Intel Pentium G3220, 8GB of RAM and a Nvidia GTX 660.
They started first with some CPU benchmarks, and SteamOS performed pretty well there compared with Windows 10.
CPU intensive games should work pretty well on SteamOS, but that doesn’t paint the whole picture. Ars Technica continued their tests on some games. However, more modern games, like lets say Fallout 4 and Black Ops III, are only available on Windows 10 and not on Steam OS so unless devs start porting to the platform tests cannot be done on them. The tests they did were on relatively older games, including Metro: Last Light and Shadow of Mordor.
These tests were not as comparable, with the difference being anywhere between 21% and 58% worse depending on graphical settings.
Ars Technica felt possibly “developers simply weren’t able to extract the best performance from the less familiar OpenGL and Linux environment,” so did some tests on Valve games because if anyone could get the most out of the OS, it’s the developers themselves. Sadly, their games didn’t do much better with Portal, Team Fortress 2 and DOTA 2 all taking massive frame hits. The only game that seemed to run comparably to Windows 10 was Left 4 Dead 2.
Developers claim that the poor performance is down to the state of Linuz drivers, OpenGL tools and the Game Engines, especially those built with focus on DirectX.
It’s a shame that SteamOS is off to such a bad start, but hopefully it will become a bigger player in the future, because more choice is always a good thing.
That said, I still fail to see the point in Steam Machines, and have criticized them many times in the past for being the middle ground nobody needed. The consumer base for such a system is tiny, and having so many manufacturers dish it out for those small few can only end in disaster. On top of that it removes all the benefits of console and PC gaming, taking the worst of both and sticking them into a single box. Maybe my opinion will change down the line, but for now I don’t see that happening.