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.