No PC hardware will last forever. Over time, heavy usage can begin to burn out components like your processor and graphics card. If your display is starting to seem a little glitchy, it could be time to replace your graphics card with a newer model. Before you do that, you should consider checking your graphics card for problems by conducting a stress test. Here's how you can stress test your graphics card on Linux.
GL Mark 2
GL Mark 2 may be a better choice for you if you're looking for something a little more complex. It tests a wider variety of aspects, such as lighting, buffering, texturing, and more. Think of it as the much more comprehensive version of Glxgears.
Luckily, it's included with most Linux distros and called glmark2. Install it by using the following:
sudo apt install glmark2
Then, run it by entering the following into the terminal:
All tests are run for ten seconds each with the frame rate counted individually. You get a final score based on all the tests. It's an incredibly simple-to-use tool that provides impressively in-depth results.
The next tool to conduct a GPU stress test on Linux is the GpuTest tool. This cross-platform tool is available for Linux, macOS and Windows. It's actually several tools in one, running several different types of graphics tests to see how well your graphics card is performing.
While the software is a little outdated, it's still capable of running tests on your GPU. It also includes the well-known and popular FurMark tool, which in recent releases has become Windows-only.
GpuTest also includes several benchmarking options which will give you information on performance speeds, temperatures and more.
To install it on Linux, download the most recent release of GpuTest and unzip the file. From there, open a terminal window and type the following to start the GpuTest GUI:
Choose your stress-testing method in the GUI menu that appears, then click the "Run stress test" button to begin the stress testing. Click "Run benchmark" if you want to see detailed data on your GPU.
A noticeable issue with a failing GPU is a reduction in the framerate. To give you a quick indication of your current GPU framerate, you can use the Glxgears tool. This is a tool included with the Mesa 3D graphics library available for Linux users.
Ubuntu and Debian-based Linux distributions can install Glxgears by installing the
mesa-utils package. Open a terminal and type:
sudo apt install mesa-utils
Once the mesa-utils package is installed, start Glxgears by typing
glxgears at the terminal. As you may guess from the name, it performs a framerate test by loading a 3D simulation of moving gears.
Every five seconds it logs the current framerate in the terminal window. If there are any sudden framerate drops, you can use this information as a sign to investigate your GPU further. However, be forewarned: some Linux graphics drivers don't work well with Glxgears, and you may need to run further tests to confirm any suspicious readings.
If you're looking for an in-depth test, the Unigine Benchmark tools will likely satisfy you. Using the Unigine 2 Engine, the incredibly detailed 3D environments created by the tool give you an actual game-like environment you can play around in, with underlying tools to test your GPU as you go.
This is the perfect tool for gamers looking to benchmark their GPU on Linux. There are several environments to choose from, with each new model offering new advancements to offer the best stress tests for newer graphics cards.
Each benchmark tool includes an automated stress test mode, deep framerate analysis, and a detailed reporting feature to help you identify problems. The latest tool, Superposition, also includes support for VR devices, allowing you to test your graphics card for VR readiness. You can also check out Heaven, which is an older tool but still highly effective.
To install, go to the Unigine Benchmark website and select the tool you wish to download, then click the "download" button. The tool will arrive as a RUN file. Once downloaded, open a terminal window, go to the location of the file, and type:
sudo chmod +x ./Benchmark-Filename.run
Replace "Benchmark-Filename" with the correct filename for your Benchmark tool. Once you've done that, type the following to begin installing the testing software:
Once again, replace "Benchmark-Filename" with the correct filename. Enter the folder the installation file creates using the
cd command, then type the following:
Replace "superposition" with the name of one of the other Unigine benchmark tools if you're using an older version.
Phoronix Test Suite
The Phoronix Test Suite helps you stress test your graphics card on Linux, Mac, and Windows. It actually uses the Unigine benchmarks. However, you may find it easier to use. It's designed to automate much of the process for you. It's updated regularly, with new tests being added as needed to help you better monitor your entire system, not just the graphics card.
It currently features over 400 tests, and you can set it up for regular system monitoring. While it may be overkill for the average user, if you want to compare performance over time or just test certain hardware, you're covered.
To download the latest version for Ubuntu/Debian systems or general Linux systems, use the following:
sudo apt install gdebi-core sudo gdebi phoronix-test-suite_*.deb
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How often should I stress test my graphics card?
You don't need to do this often. Instead, only stress test if you're experiencing graphics issues or you're installing Linux on an older machine and need to see if the graphics card is still working correctly.
2. Should I skip testing and just buy a new graphics card?
Buying a new graphics card should be a last resort unless you just need to upgrade in order to meet/exceed minimum requirements for a game or app. Sometimes all you need is new graphics card drivers to fix the problem.
3. Should I use more than one testing tool?
Usually, one tool is enough to give you the information you need. However, if you're using a more basic test, you may want to consider a more advanced tool if you still need more information. For the average user, any one of the above should give you what you need without needing to double test.
Stress Test Your GPU Before Replacement
Before you rush out to buy a new graphics card for your Linux system, you should stress test your graphics card first to see how well it's performing. A problem with your GPU could be fixed with regular maintenance, switching your Linux graphics card drivers or by disabling hardware acceleration.
If your graphics card is failing, take a look at our graphics card buyers guide to help you find a replacement.
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