Benchmark Your GPU on Linux with Unigine Benchmarks

If you are a gamer, use your setup for video editing, or otherwise rely on heavy GPU usage, you might be interested in how well your Graphics Processing Unit would perform under extreme stress.

The creators of the Unigine gaming engine has made a set of beautiful tools for the purpose. The basic version is totally free, and it is available for Windows, Linux and Mac. It features powerful testing, stunning visuals, and a user-controlled setup.

The benchmarks run on all three major Desktop OSes. Windows will be compatible from XP upwards until Windows 8 (no support for Windows 10 yet), and Macs will need OS X 10.8 or above. While Linux does not have a minimum kernel version requirement, it will need proprietary video drivers to be installed.

According to the Unigine website, the hardware requirements are as follows:

  • GPU:
    • ATI Radeon HD 4xxx and higher
    • NVIDIA GeForce 8xxx and higher
    • Intel HD 3000 and higher
  • video memory: 512 Mb
  • disk space: 1.5 Gb

This certainly does not look like a lot, and the tests would not run on lower-end graphic cards. If the sole purpose of your graphic card is to display your desktop, this might not be your area of interest at all. The two available versions offer slightly different functionality.

According to the website, the benchmark named  “Valley” features

  • extreme hardware stability testing
  • per-frame GPU temperature and clock monitoring
  • advanced visual technologies: dynamic sky, volumetric clouds, sun shafts, DOF, ambient occlusion
  • multi-platform support for Windows, Linux and Mac OS X
  • 64,000,000 square meters of extremely-detailed, seamless terrain
  • procedural object placement of vegetation and rocks
  • entire valley free to be explored in interactive fly-by or hike-through modes
  • user-controlled dynamic weather
  • support for stereo 3D and multi-monitor configurations

while the one called “Heaven” offers

  • extreme hardware stability testing
  • accurate results due to 100% GPU-bound benchmarking
  • benchmarking presets for convenient comparison of results
  • support for DirectX 9, DirectX 11 and OpenGL 4.0
  • multi-platform support for Windows, Linux and Mac OS X
  • comprehensive use of hardware tessellation with adjustable settings
  • dynamic sky with volumetric clouds and tweakable day-night cycle
  • real-time global illumination and screen-space ambient occlusion
  • cinematic and interactive fly/walk-through camera modes
  • support for multi-monitor configurations
  • various stereo 3D modes
  • GPU temperature and clock monitoring
  • support for software rendering mode in DirectX 11 for reference purposes

The most obvious difference is the setting. Valley would allow you to explore a beautiful, high definition valley,

whereas “Heaven” will take you into an imaginary village, up in the skies.

Of course there is more to them than pretty graphics. Both of the tests are designed to put your GPU under various stress conditions, not only providing visual feedback of their efficiency, but taking measurements and creating reports for you to analyze after the testing has been finished.

UNIGINE benchmarks provide completely unbiased results and generates true in-game rendering workloads across all PC platforms: Windows, Linux and Mac OS X. There is also an interactive experience with fly-by and walk-through modes allowing for exploring all corners of these virtual worlds powered by the cutting-edge UNIGINE Engine.

On the Unigine website, benchmarks are displayed to choose from: “Valley,” “Heaven,” “Tropics” and “Sanctuary,” although the latter two are marked legacy and are no longer available for download. You can download “Valley” from here or “Heaven” from here.

Downloading “Valley” on Linux, you will get a file named “Unigine_Valley-1.0.run.” This must be enabled for execution with

chmod +x Unigine_Valley-1.0.run

You can then run the installer with

./Unigine_Valley-1.0.run

It will extract itself into a new directory. To run the benchmark tool, enter it as

cd Unigine_Valley-1.0

and type

./valley

Instructions for “Heaven are similar with different filenames.

After running the program, you will find yourself on the main screen which will allow you to select from “Basic,” Extreme, or “Extreme HD” presets or manually customize each setting and run the benchmarks.

valley-main

When you press “Run,” you will find yourself in an auto-pilot overview of the valley itself. The interface is simple enough: you have a top row of buttons where you can choose different settings. Most quality settings can be changed on the fly, and you are able to change cameras to “Free” or “Walking” modes, both of which will allow you to control the action. “Free” mode lets you fly, while “Walk” mode makes you stick to the ground.

valley-rain

Pressing the “Benchmark” button will start the process. It will take a few minutes, and at the end you will be presented with your scores. You can then save them in a handy HTML format for future reference. The test would run on free graphics drivers but will not be able to make good use of the GPU. The test machine, running Debian 8.1 Jessie with a (not exactly powerful) Radeon 5400HD graphics card, was struggling through even with the lowest settings, and in the summary the graphics card was listed as unidentified.

valley-score-html2

If you want to know how good or bad your GPU performs, want to benchmark your system, or even just compare different OSes, Unigine benchmark tools offer a simple and enjoyable way to collect performance data while enjoying stunning graphics in two different modes. In Linux, non-free graphics drivers are essential, while higher end graphics cards are recommended for an optimal experience.