It was supposed to be a leaner, more open alternative to what Microsoft has been peddling to its red-headed stepchildren who'd rather build their own rigs instead of buying a DirectX Box. However, the latest benchmarks for Valve's SteamOS lag behind those recorded by Microsoft's DirectX 12-reliant Windows 10.
Video game publisher and developer Valve and its hardware partners just widely released their long-awaited Steam Machine, a compact PC built for living room gaming. Valve had already released SteamOS, a Linux-based operating system that was supposed to be leaner and more focused on performance.
So with Microsoft having recently released Windows 10, along with more promises to return its focus on PC gaming, the folks over at Ars Technica decided to benchmark devices running both.
Windows 10 edged out SteamOS overall in GPU usage in each category, including integer and float point.
"Generalized CPU benchmarks are only somewhat useful in judging actual, GPU-powered gaming performance, though," says Ars Technica. "To see how the OS change affected gaming, we looked for benchmarkable top-of-the-line titles we could put through the comparative wringer on both systems."
Things got ugly when the team benchmarked AAA games, namely big-budget titles Metro: Last Light and Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor.
Windows 10 beat out SteamOS on Shadow of Mordor at the low end, 95.5 fps to 61 fps, and on Ultra, 34.5 fps to 14.6 fps. SteamOS lost handily on every setting in between.
As for Last Light, Windows 10 bested SteamOS on minimum settings 50.5 fps to 40 fps and on maximum, 9.5 fps to 4.2 fps.
"While these are two AAA games ported to Linux by respected publishers, it's possible the developers simply weren't able to extract the best performance from the less familiar OpenGL and Linux environment," says Ars Technica. "We figured that Valve's own games wouldn't have this problem; if anyone could get the maximum performance out of its Linux ports, it should be the company behind SteamOS itself."
Still, SteamOS just couldn't touch Windows 10 in benchmarks. Even when testing out Valve's first-party titles — Dota 2, Portal and Team Fortress 2 — Windows 10 won.
While it may be disheartening for SteamOS believers, it's important to remember that all of these tests were performed on a single gaming PC.