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  1. PC Report: GRID Autosport on Linux

    System requirements


    Windows

    • CPU: 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, AMD Athlon X2 5400
    • RAM: 2 GB
    • GPU: Intel HD3000, AMD HD2000, NVIDIA Geforce 8000
    • OS: Vista, 7, 8

    Linux

    • CPU: 2.6 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
    • RAM: 4 GB
    • GPU: NVIDIA 640, 1 GB of VRAM
    • OS: Ubuntu 14.04.2 64-bit, Steam OS 2.0
    From the above we can see rather heightened requirements with the Linux release. While not at all unexpected at this point, it is still a disappointment just how much further up are the minimum requirements for many high-profile ports of Linux games - of course, what we need to keep in mind is that they are often based on the minimum requirements for SteamOS. Added to this is, as usual, a disclaimer promising no support for AMD or Intel GPUs. Feral have released an official statement detailing the reasons, with plans to extend it to said GPUs in the future, once stable driver releases with required features are available.

    Given the game's and series long support of Intel iGPUs, even going as far as boasting Intel-exclusive graphical features, a minimum of a high-end and seldom available Iris Pro 5200 is a bit of a disappointment.

    The following report is based on experience of playing the game on a machine with an Intel Xeon E3-1241v3, 12 GB of RAM, and an Nvidia GTX 770 with 2 GB of VRAM, on Window 7 SP1 64-bit (driver version 359.06) and Ubuntu 15.10 64-bit (driver version 358.16).

    The additional Intel results were gathered on a laptop with an Intel i5-4258U with an Intel Iris 5100 and 8 GB of RAM, on Windows 8.1 64-bit and Ubuntu 15.10 64-bit (using Mesa 11.2 built on 2015-12-14).

    A copy of the game was purchased using personal funds.

    Graphical features


    The game can boast almost full graphical parity with the Windows version. Lightning, reflections, and shadows, as well as every other effect are featured in the Linux version. However, Intel users on Windows get an exclusive feature called advanced blending, an implementation of order-independent transparency. This is the second port to lose this feature in the process, the first being Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor.

    settings


    With Nvidia cards on Windows, the game also provides the Nvidia-specific implementation of multisample anti-aliasing known as coverage sampling anti-aliasing. Nvidia claims this allows for the same level of quality at a lower hit to performance. Of course, this feature is being phased out in newer GPUs, starting with Maxwell-based cards.

    ingame


    A quite interesting feature that is not present in the Linux version is native second-screen support. This isn't normal multi-monitor support, which is usually just assured by making the system appear as a single desktop, but rather a secondary view into the game, showing the current standings in the race as well as a cinematic view - a nice addition if you're planning any local tournaments.

    secondscreen


    Performance


    It is always interesting to see how does a port stack up against the original Windows version in terms of performance. It has become somewhat of a given that we will see a drop to a certain degree, given previous experiences, but there's always the hope the next port may provide a degree of improvement in this area. The results are based on the default benchmark provided. Error bars represent the minimum frame rate.

    nvidiapresets.svg


    As expected, we can see a fairly steady loss of about 40% regardless of settings. This of course isn't ideal, as a system the could still easily hit a stable 60 on Windows on higher settings may struggle in the same circumstances on Linux.

    nvidiaAA.svg


    We can see a similar story when using the various anti-aliasing settings. The drop remains consistent throughout the available settings. Additionally, it is possible to use higher quality settings on Windows.

    Benchmarks for additional settings like advanced lightning and global illumination were omitted, as the results produced on Linux were mediocre at best, occasionally rendering the game wholly unplayable due to extremely low performance - at best, they only resulted to a drop to around 30fps, but also introduced stuttering and inconsistent frame rates. By comparison, the game remained playable on Windows, still leaving the game at 60fps.

    Frame rate is not the only measure important in rating performance. Thankfully, when using a setting which keeps you above 60 at all times, the game's frame times do not often exceed 16.7ms often. The situation is not as perfect as on Windows - where none of all frames rendered went above 16.7ms, as opposed to a few slower frames always happening on Linux, resulting in an ever so occasional stutter.

    What is a pleasant surprise, is the fact the game is currently fully playable on Intel chipsets, in contrast to many other titles released recently.

    intel720p.svg

    intel1080p.svg


    The performance drop in this case remains at only around 20% on all settings. The game remains playable on Windows slightly higher settings than on Linux, but more importantly, the game is playable on Linux at all. If you'd prefer a higher frame rate at the cost to the image quality you can drop the resolution, though unfortunately, no graphical settings remain to reduce for further gains at that point.

    While playing, the game remained equally stable on the Intel and Nvidia systems, which is after all the most important part. This is also the first of the AAA ports we've seen release so far (with the exception of Civilization V) that was at all playable on my laptop.

    Experience


    The area of user experience is where the port really shines. Feral have put in extra effort to make sure you don't have to spend time to get to enjoy the game.

    Controller support works exactly as expected, thanks to the use of SDL2. But in case you're having any trouble getting the game to recognise your controller, make sure to bind it in Steam Big Picture. More importantly, when it comes to wheel support, the game is quite the opposite of what DiRT Showdown brought. With built-in support for most of the popular wheels available, including force feedback and 900 degrees range, the game leaves very little to complain about.

    Of course, it'd be nice if the in-game icons matched the prompts present on these wheels - and those are usually the same as DualShock's. Interestingly, the game does provide such overrides when on OS X, so hopefully this feature may still come in a future patch, or in the least in upcoming ports.

    On the other hand, the game loses some features as well. With the rise of hybrid laptops and touchscreens, the Windows version also features a touch based UI and input, but these are not present on Linux. Of course, given the fact that there are practically no readily available Linux laptops, and with SteamOS being the bigger concern, this is not a major loss.

    For those inclined to mod their game, you'll be happy to find out mods work great and without issues - among the first things I did after downloading the game was finding a mod that removed the unnecessary blur from the cabin and added working reflections to the mirrors.

    And most importantly, if you use more than one OS, the save files are fully cross-platform and will synchronize across systems as they should. Unfortunately, in a rather random fashion the save file I was using occasionally became unreadable for the Windows version of the game, though this was sometimes resolved by just playing another race and letting the game create a new file. And as one might expect, with this also comes cross-platform multiplayer, so you do not have to worry about playing the game with your OS X or Windows using friends.

    With this port, we also get a nice addition that OS X users had the chance to enjoy for some time now - a launcher. Right now only providing support information and a resolution choice, Feral have confirmed to me that future ports will see the featureset come closer to the OS X version, with additional options being available directly in the launcher.

    Conclusion


    While the performance of the port is a bit of a let-down, especially taking in light the fact the other game on the same engine (albeit older version) is even able to run at a higher frame rate than on Windows, the port is really good over all. With emphasis put on the user experience, you don't have to spend a lot of time fiddling with settings to enjoy the game.

    Hopefully in future releases Feral Interactive will not only be able to provide a superb user experience, but also matching performance. Considering they have quite a few more ports announced as coming, we'll see soon enough.

    PC Reports are a series of quick first impressions regarding the technical aspects of a PC game. This report was written by PCGamingWiki contributor Soeb. For an up to date account of GRID Autosport fixes and improvements, please visit its respective PCGamingWiki article.

    Thank you for reading. If you enjoyed reading this and want to us write more articles, more often, please consider donating to PCGamingWiki's Patreon campaign:

    • Dec 22 2015 04:16 PM
    • by Soeb
  2. PC Report: DiRT Showdown on Linux

    System requirements


    Windows

    • CPU: Intel Pentium D 3.2 GHz, AMD Athlon 64 X2
    • RAM: 2 GB
    • GPU: NVIDIA GeForce 8000 Series, ATI Radeon HD 2000 Series, Intel HD Graphics 2500
    • OS: Vista, 7

    Linux

    • CPU: AMD Athlon 64 x2, 3.2 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
    • RAM: 4 GB
    • GPU: Nvidia, AMD, 1 GB of VRAM, OpenGL 4.1 compatible
    • OS: Ubuntu 14.10, Mint 17.1
    Rather unusually, the game mentions no specific GPU requirements on Linux. Asking only for OpenGL 4.1 compatibility, one could expect a broader range of support, for once not relying on higher-end equipment - though still bumping the Linux version ahead by several generations of GPUs. Unfortunately, this is followed up by the usual disclaimer that Intel cards are not supported at the moment - though this is stated as purely a drivers limitation, and something that will be resolved in the future. Additionally, you'll need a slightly better processor, and double the RAM too.

    The following report is based on experience of playing the game on a machine with an Intel Xeon E3-1241v3, 12 GB of RAM, and an Nvidia GTX 770 with 2 GB of VRAM, on Window 7 SP1 64-bit (driver version 359.06) and Ubuntu 15.10 64-bit (driver version 358.16).

    A copy of the game was purchased using my own funds.

    Graphical features


    Dirt Showdown supports every graphical feature present on Windows, without exception.

    video


    Of course, the same can't be said for all additional features. Once again, additional forms of anti-aliasing besides MSAA are unavailable. Furthermore, the game's native support for Nvidia 3D Vision is not present on Linux, due to lack of driver support.



    Performance


    I'm always curious to see how well a port does in comparison with Windows. While the usual expectation is a general loss, on some level, there's always the hope a port may end up differenty - and in this case, I was very surprised with the results. The following charts are based on the default benchmark provided. Error bars represent the minimum frame rate.

    presets.svg


    From the various AAA ports we've received over the past 2 years, this is the first time the Linux version gets better performance at any point, to the best of my knowledge - with a 50% performance gain over Windows on the lowest settings, and always maintaining some sort of a lead until the highest settings, where the game suffers a drop of about 13%. This can be alleviated by disabling advanced lightning and global illumination, bringing the port close to perfect parity in performance.

    aa.svg


    Interestingly enough with anti-aliasing, picking higher quality AA results in a smaller performance loss compared to Windows. Going to 8x multisampling AA costs you about 20% on Windows and only 12% on Linux - or closing the gap to just 5% between the systems. This speaks volumes of the progress done since the first Linux releases, and shows there's still a lot of potential for other ports.

    More importantly, the frame time seldom strayed above 16.7ms even on highest settings - helping to avoid visible stutter and tearing. However, the game is still prone to occasionally - if very infrequently - fail to hit that target regardless of graphical settings. This situation is of course not ideal, as this means the game is more prone to stuttering. With that said, during the time I spent playing, I have not experienced any noticable stutter.

    Experience


    Of course, there's a lot more to look for in a port than just performance. Especially in a racing game, peripheral support is important.

    Thanks to the use of SDL2, the game's controller support is superb. Unfortunately, this doesn't extend to wheel support. The game does not include built-in support for even the most popular of wheels. For some hardware the wheel needs to be bound to a standard controller layout using Steam Big Picture to work at all, but in many cases even this doesn't solve the issue and the game remains unable to use your wheel. One can hope this may still be resolved in future patches, and better wheel support could be added at some point.

    When it comes to save games, the files are not cross-platform, and you cannot expect to reuse them when playing on another system. If you've already played the game previously on Windows, or if you're looking to continue your progress on a different system, this is not a possibility. On top of this, the save files are still going to be synced to all platforms, which means you will have to wait for cloud synchronization, without any benefits. However, at least in multiplayer full compatiblity is present, and you are able to play together with Windows and OS X users.

    Conclusion


    What can be said without a doubt is that for most players, the port provides a superb experience. While there are miles to go in many areas - wheel support absolutely should be present in a racing game, and in a much more approachable fashion than what's available here - in the least it makes up for it with well above average performance.

    The port is not quite perfect, but still well ahead of other releases. Given the massive strides Virtual Programming have made since their first Linux port - after this, I'm looking forward to what they can bring next.

    PC Reports are a series of quick first impressions regarding the technical aspects of a PC game. This report was written by PCGamingWiki contributor Soeb. For an up to date account of DiRT Showdown fixes and improvements, please visit its respective PCGamingWiki article.




    Thank you for reading. If you enjoyed reading this and want to us write more articles, more often, please consider donating to PCGamingWiki's Patreon campaign:


    • Dec 22 2015 04:07 PM
    • by Soeb