Linux and Windows have been competing for years as rival operating systems, with Microsoft ultimately claiming victory by capturing the vast majority of PC and laptop users. Linux is used by only a minority, as despite being free, it is considered more complex and has historically offered worse performance in games and applications. However, with the advancements of Valve Proton, Windows 11 has lost in gaming against three Linux distributions.
While we can choose between Linux, Windows, and MacOS, we have always said that Windows is the best option for gaming. For a long time, this operating system has allowed us to achieve the highest number of frames per second (FPS), largely due to its compatibility with all types of hardware and its GPU drivers always being available. However, portable consoles with PC hardware, such as the Steam Deck, have been designed using Linux and offer impressive gaming performance.
Windows 11 faces off against three Linux distributions in gaming
The myth that Linux is not suitable for gaming disappeared when Valve announced Proton, the compatibility layer for Windows games on Linux. Proton has been updated and improved to the point where there are no noticeable FPS losses. In fact, on the Steam Deck, some games run better on Linux, consuming fewer resources and battery, albeit not by a huge margin.
We have seen several performance comparisons for Windows vs Linux gaming and remember cases like Ubuntu losing with the NVIDIA RTX 4090. However, in this situation, Windows 11 has been tested against three Linux distributions that beat it in gaming. Before examining the results, it should be noted that a PC with a Ryzen 7 5800X CPU, 32 GB DDR4 at 3600 MHz CL18, and an RX 6700 XT Nitro+ was used. This is a mid-range machine that better represents the majority of gamers. Additionally, Arch Linux, Nodara Linux, and Pop!_OS were used alongside Proton to run Windows games.
Linux achieves up to 6% higher average FPS at 1080p
Tests were conducted with a total of five games, set at Ultra/Very High settings, and AMD FSR was disabled. For a better representation of the results, the internal benchmark was used in all these games, except for Ratchet & Clank, which did not have one. Starting with Cyberpunk 2077, Windows 11 comes in third place with 82.3 FPS, easily surpassing Pop!_OS, but defeated by Arch Linux and Nobara, the latter achieving 89.6 FPS. Moving on to Forspoken, Windows 11 takes the last position with an average of 82.6 FPS and 73.6 FPS minimum. All Linux distributions maintain an average of around 88 FPS, with Arch Linux emerging as the winner with 75.2 FPS minimum.
With Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, we see the only exception where Windows 11 surpasses Linux in both average and minimum FPS. Here, it achieves 110.6 FPS on average vs 108 FPS across all Linux distributions. In minimums, Windows 11 reaches 79.4 FPS, with Arch Linux coming in second at 76.5 FPS. We then move to Starfield, where Windows 11 suffers another absolute defeat, coming in last. Here, Windows 11 achieves 49.1 FPS on average and 35.4 FPS minimum, while the first place goes to Arch Linux with 52.7 FPS on average and 43.7 FPS minimum. Finally, we have The Talos Principle II, where Windows 11 curiously comes in last with 65.1 FPS on average (71.5 FPS with Nobara), but first with 46.4 FPS minimum. On average, Nobara takes first place with 6% more average FPS than Windows 11, followed by the 5% advantage of Arch Linux.