Valve: OpenGL is Faster Than Direct3D

OpenGL is Faster Than Direct3D

Valve is working on porting their games on the Linux platform, and they recently tested Left 4 Dead 2 (L4D2) on Linux (OpenGL) and Windows 7 (Direct3D) on the same hardware (Intel Core i7 3930k + GeForce GTX 680 + 32GB RAM).

On Windows 7, L4D2 ran at around 270 FPS while on Linux, the same game ran at 315 FPS. More than 45 FPS or in terms of milliseconds, the OpenGL render path is 0.5ms faster than the Direct3D render path (milliseconds are less impressive than FPS!). The interesting thing is that the D3D version of their game engine has been polished and optimized for years while the OpenGL version is still a baby! The boost in performance comes from the underlying efficiency of the Linux kernel and OpenGL (NVIDIA drivers). But what are the performances with other drivers like AMD or Intel ones?

Valve has also tested their OpenGL engine on Windows 7 and the game ran faster than with the D3D engine:

Interestingly, in the process of working with hardware vendors we also sped up the OpenGL implementation on Windows. Left 4 Dead 2 is now running at 303.4 FPS with that configuration.

It’s a great for the OpenGL community!

Source: Faster Zombies! (Valve blog)


  • JohnSmith

    Valve don’t need any speedup, their games are lightweight fighters, and most players use 60hz displays which give also 60fps gameplay if you use (and you use) Vsync.

  • OGL

    >Still using proprietary Windows only Direct3D instead of open, multiplatform OpenGL


  • You forget to say the first launch was 6 FPS for Linux ^^

    This is also cool.

  • JohnSmith

    by the way milliseconds are actually MORE impressive than FPS. 0.5ms = 45 frames or 0,0005 sec = 45 rendered frames. Imagine that.

  • nuninho1980

    Ok But… Win XP x86?? If L4D2 doesn’t have DirectX 10 then XP is very important because XP may be faster than Win7.

  • Tachikoma

    I wonder how OSX GL compares with Linux in terms of performance.

  • JohnSmith


    XP32 is very important, and much more important than Linux

    WinXP 32 13.48%
    Unknown (read “Linux”) 64 bit 0.67%

  • Alan

    I assume than many, like me, have a Windows/Linux dual boot but run their games on Windows because they can’t run them on Linux.
    So these rates are meant to change once they release Linux versions of their games.

  • DrBalthar

    Valve is just acting like a sour grape since Win8 threatens their business model (Steam)

  • Lightness1024

    a priori there is no reason that DX9 on XP will perform faster. but there are a lot of reasons why it should perform slower. DX9 runtime is more permissive regarding vertexc buffer layouts and sometimes require massive stream recompilation depending on shader input layout.
    also, it doesn’t have the constant buffers and the CPU-side uniform update stripping optimization. (though it has uniform blocks but it is much more dirty).

  • Squall Leonhart

    i pity the fool who actually believes this.

    opengl can’t even do multithreaded display lists without running in an unsafe context.