Whenever I perform a 3D benchmark in Linux one of the first questions I get asked about the results is:
Where your desktop effects turned off?
For those who are not aware, desktop effects are the "flash" that is enabled by default in many popular Linux distros (namely Ubuntu and it's derivatives) such as the wobbly windows, desktop cube, and sleek sliding effects. Something that has always been questioned is whether or not desktop effects slow down your 3D performance in other applications and if so, how much do they slow it down by?
I am going to use Unigine Benchmarks on Pinguy OS (for Gnome) and Chakra (for KDE) with and without desktop effects enabled. Both systems are clean, fully up to date installs with the nVidia 260 beta driver installed. Gnome will be using Compiz for it's desktop effects and KDE will be using Kwin.
I'm using my same gaming rig that I've used for all my other benchmarks: Processor - Intel p9700 2.8ghz Dual Core, RAM - 4gigs of DDR3 1066, Video Card: nVidia 260m with 1gig DDR3 dedicated memory.
Lets dive into some graphs shall we?
Graphs can be hard to read exact numbers on, so here is the numerical breakdown of the results:
As you can see, desktop effect do indeed decrease your overall 3D performance. Compiz is far more detrimental to 3D scores than KDE's Kwin is. Across all three benchmarks having Compiz enabled on the system caused a 10.7% performance decrease, while Kwin only caused a 1% decrease.
So it appears that if you are going to be gaming on Ubuntu/Gnome it is worth taking the time to toggle Compiz off before loading up that game.
Please note while these benchmark scores presented are accurate to the best of my abilities, they only represent my personal hardware and software configurations. Your results on your own system(s) may vary (and if they do, please share them!).