Dysomnia Feb 12 @ 1:27pm
Living Room PC with Steam
I recently repurposed my old rig as a living room PC running Linux Mint 13 x64 LTS connected to a 55" Full HD screen. Specs are:

AMD Athlon II X2 245 (2.9 GHz)
4 GB RAM
nVidia GTS450 1GB (prop. drivers 331.20 on Kernel 3.12)

I'm planning to use it for multimedia (Videos / DVDs / Music...), as a vintage game console emulator (with mupen64plus, snes9x) and for platformers with full controller support via Steam. The hardware is pretty dated, but I'm not planning to play newer demanding 3D titles, so that should be fine.

The steam games I have currently installed are FEZ, Electronic Super Joy, Dust: An Elysian Tail, Brütal Legend and, only for performance testing purposes, Left 4 Dead 2. Which isn't exactly my type of game, but when you could just grab it for free... You don't say no to free games :D.

The performance of these games varies wildly, and I'm not sure if it's the individual games, errors on my part or just Linux still being new to mainstream gaming.


The games perform as follows:

  • Left 4 Dead 2: Flawless.

  • Dust: Flawless.

  • FEZ: Okay-ish. Game runs smoothly overall but has major stuttering every second or so. It doesn't offer any graphics tweaking options besides setting resolution.

  • Electronic Super Joy: Ignores "Sync To VBlank" Setting, thus producing some pretty ugly tearing. The game offers Frame Rate Limiters to 30/60 fps - but this only makes the tearing much worse. My display is set to 59.94Hz and doesn't offer 60Hz on 1080p - Could this be a problem? Or, as the nvidia setting "Sync To VBlank" only effects OpenGL - does this game even use OpenGL?

  • Brütal Legend: Very bad. Which makes me very sad. I played that game on the same hardware on Win7 and I had no performance issues on 1080p and full details. On Linux, it's one choppy mess :(.

I also plan to post these problems in the according game forums, but I want to make sure first that I'm not missing essential system wide stuff.


What I tried to affect performance:

  • Playing around with the options in nvidia-settings. Besides AA and AF, they don't seem to do that much.

  • Trying to use Nouveau. Emphasis on tried. Didn't work at all, didn't even get to the point to test game performance because it was impossible to set the resolution above 1360x768.

  • Using different nvidia driver versions (3xx). Didn't notice major differences, stuck with the newest (331).

  • Kernel upgrade. Originally, Mint13 uses 3.2.x - upgraded to 3.12. - no notable difference.


So that's that. I'm secretly hoping for someone to just post a magic link with the one setting that makes all my problems go away - which is not going to happen, so I'm thankful for every troubleshooting guide, linux graphics performance tips or alternative options I could explore.
Last edited by Dysomnia; Feb 12 @ 1:27pm
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CrisFigueira Feb 13 @ 3:28am 
Hello,

I have a somewhat similar rig as yours (AMD FX-6300, 8GB RAM, nVidia GTX650ti, running Ubuntu Gnome Edition 13.10) at my living room, with the exact same purpose: Steam games, emulation, and HTPC.

I've tried SteamOS first, which worked perfectly. It runs Debian, which doesn't have all those PPA's of Ubuntu, but saved me from the PITA that is to configure the latest nvidia drivers. Perhaps you should try it to test your rig, so you see what is the best-case support to your hardware.

You can even run SteamOS in an non-UEFI rig:
http://steamcommunity.com/groups/steamuniverse/discussions/1/648817378243644036/

How to enable Debian repositories so you can install emulatores and multimedia software in SteamOS:
http://steamcommunity.com/groups/steamuniverse/discussions/1/648814396114274132/

If running Mint or Ubuntu is more confortable to you (well, there's a reason I'm using Ubuntu instead of SteamOS, so I don't have to re-learn too much stuff), you can do it, but installing the latest nvidia drivers is tricky, because the newer drivers install bumblebee and/or nvidia-prime, that are great for laptops with dual-gpu (intel/nvidia), but break everywhing else. There's a few links:
http://www.howopensource.com/2012/10/install-nvidia-geforce-driver-in-ubuntu-12-10-12-04-using-ppa/
http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=2197861
http://askubuntu.com/questions/379504/problem-with-nvidia-driver-331-20-on-ubuntu-13-10-64bit
http://askubuntu.com/questions/399153/after-apt-get-upgrade-system-always-boot-to-low-graphics-mode

Here's exatcly what I've done:
(in a console window)
sudo apt-add-repository ppa:xorg-edgers/ppa
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:noobslab/mint
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get dist-upgrade
sudo apt-get install nvidia-331 nvidia-331-uvm nvclock-gtk libcg vdpauinfo mintdrivers
sudo apt-get remove --purge bumblebee primus nvidia-prime
sudo nvidia-xconfig
sudo reboot
nvidia-settings

I don't know if your problem is like mine, but perhaps it can help. If it doesn't, I recommend giving SteamOS a try.
Dysomnia Feb 13 @ 8:37am 
Steam OS currently requires a 250 GB hard drive (which is weird) - I don't have that in my current hardware setup, so I would have to buy a new hard drive (currently a 60 GB SSD).

I'll try the nvidia tweaks. I've never even heard of bumblebee, primus and prime until now :>.
Kranky K. Krackpot Feb 13 @ 9:42am 
Originally posted by Dysomnia:
Steam OS currently requires a 250 GB hard drive (which is weird) - I don't have that in my current hardware setup, so I would have to buy a new hard drive (currently a 60 GB SSD).

I'll try the nvidia tweaks. I've never even heard of bumblebee, primus and prime until now :>.
250Gb is together with games, as far as I can understand. The games can be put on another hdd. SteamOS itself (Debian, actually) shouldn't require more than 10-15Gb.
Doc Holliday Feb 14 @ 5:46am 
use he ISO to install SteamOS
BlkMagicNinja Feb 14 @ 12:40pm 
I have Brutal Legend running with no issues on a System 76 Galagos UltraPro, which has an Iris Pro 5200 onboard graphic chip and 16gb of memory. Distro: Arch, compiled kernel 3.13.2 (not the distro provided package)

I have all the emulators installed too (mupen, snes9x, dolphin, ppsspp, turboengine, fceux, etc.) but the only one that gives me issues is pcsx2 (but that's because of the onboard graphics).

I recommend compiling your own kernel and wine to see if you can improve the performance. Using the stock kernel, I always notice a performance hit due to the generic settings provided by the distro to work with a variety of system setups... whereas when I compile my own I have things set to my specific hardware.
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