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Counter-Strike: Global Offensive on Ubuntu: playable or not?

There are many popular games available for Ubuntu via Steam eg.Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CSGO), DOTA 2, Football Manager 2018, Sid Meier’s Civilization® VI, Borderlands 2 etc.

We decided recently to load-up CSGO, available not only on Steam for Windows but also on macOS and Ubuntu (SteamPlay), on Ubuntu 17.10 to compare not only actual performance versus Windows 10 but also overall playability when it comes to supporting apps and services eg, voice chat, audio support etc.

Installation

Just like on Windows, Steam can be installed on Ubuntu via The Steam Website. Once it was installed, we downloaded CSGO, installed the latest Nvidia drivers and a benchmarking map.

drivers

We tested on the following main hardware:

  • CPU: i5 4690K
  • GPU: GTX 1080 Founders Edition
  • RAM: 16GB
  • Monitor: Dell U2717D 1440p

about-ubuntu

Software:

  • Ubuntu 17.10
  • Windows 10 Creators Update

We also installed Discord for voice comms and used a Corsair H2100 USB wireless headset.

Gameplay

We played some casual rounds and eventually played one competitive match (which we won, woo hoo!). Once in-game, it feels exactly the same as in Windows. The only giveaway was that the Razor Abyssus mouse we used could not be set to a level of of sensitivity that matched our Windows settings. This was probably due to the lack official support for our Razor mouse.

Discord worked fine and as expected: all our channels and contacts on the Windows version appeared on Ubuntu making voice comms a breeze. The Corsair headset worked without any issues (literally plug and play) and audio quality was indistinguishable from Windows.

We tried using a whole range of software to try and capture actual gameplay but we experienced either slowdown i.e a big drop in frames per second or audio with a black screen was captured. Since we were using the Nvidia proprietary driver, Xorg was default and Wayland wasn't available as an option. Switching to the Nouveau driver and then trying either Xorg or Wayland made no difference in improving the video capture issue.

Benchmarks

We ran the benchmarking map and got the following results:

  • Windows 10: 249.03 FPS

  • Ubuntu 17.10:189.06 FPS

This therefore means that we experienced a 24% loss in performance. However, we used a 60hz monitor which mean’t that this difference was essentially unnoticeable to. What it also means is that CS GO on Ubuntu isn't running as efficient as it's Windows counterpart. We were hoping to see the Ubuntu version running almost neck-and-neck with Windows since this game is officially supported on Ubuntu and not just a port from a third party.

Conclusion

We started this test several weeks ago with the aim of not only finding out if Ubuntu can be used to play CSGO, but to also find out if Ubuntu supported everything we normally used in Windows. The biggest delay with finishing this test was issues with the game capture software. We eventually had to accept that in-game footage showing smooth gameplay was not to be.

Except for the issue with mouse sensitivity, everything worked the same and felt no different from playing in Windows.

We obviously don’t recommend using Ubuntu for CSGO if you have older hardware that is already struggling in Windows. We do, however, recommend that anyone that is already running Ubuntu as their main OS with fairly modern hardware give Steam and CSGO a try. You might be pleasantly surprised.

AUTHOR

Vinodh Moodley

Author and tech addict. Vinodh loves new software, hardware and technology but he enjoys writing about it even more. Vinodh is an avid sim racer and captain's an indoor cricket team.

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