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Laptops have more autonomy with Wayland than with Xorg

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Despite the great legion of detractors it has Wayland, versus Xorg brings things like greater fluidity with graphics, puts an end to the tearing by design and is capable of extend the autonomy of notebooks. The latter has recently been demonstrated by Michael Larabel, Phoronix boss and lead developer of the benchmarking test suite of the same name, who has compared the performance and power consumption of Xorg and Wayland on both GNOME What KDE Plasma.

Regarding the performance, we are not going to delve into it because it is not the main topic of this entry, although to summarize, we can say that the trend continues when it comes to having a similar performance with Wayland and Xorg. However, in KDE Plasma it is detected that the Wayland session gets lost by an appreciable difference in some cases, while in GNOME the results are more consistent between the two graphical “servers” and Wayland is better off (GNOME has been in the two comparisons, while KDE only in one).

To make what we’re saying more clearly, let’s take the two most obvious examples, spanning the performance tests that Unvanquished and Warsaw have run on.

For those who do not know, Unvanquished is a free software multiplayer multiplayer shooter built with Id Tech 4, the Doom 3 engine. Here you can see that the GNOME Wayland session slightly exceeds Xorg’s, while in KDE Plasma we see how Wayland marks almost 11 images per second less.

Wayland Vs Xorg on GNOME and KDE Plasma running Unvanquished

On the other hand we have Warsaw 2.5 beta, another multiplayer shooter and free software that uses a quite modified version of the Quake II engine as a technological base. In this case, Xorg is superior to Wayland in both GNOME and KDE Plasma, but the difference is more pronounced in the case of the latter.

In order not to leave KDE Plasma in a bad way, there is a test in which your Wayland session beats the rest by a certain difference, which has been done with ParaView 5.9, the open source application for scientific and interactive visualization.

Wayland Vs Xorg: Energy Consumption and Temperatures

And now we come to the really interesting part of the article: the comparison between Wayland and Xorg in terms of energy consumption and temperatures. Here you can extract some interesting data and that confirm the feelings that this server had when it released its laptop Acer Aspire 5 A515-54-735N two years ago. As in Phoronix they have done two tests, here we will only take the numbers of the second one, where KDE Plasma and GNOME are shown at the same time.

Before exposing the data, the equipment used was a second generation Lenovo ThinkPad T14s laptop with a Ryzen 7 PRO 5850U APU (with its integrated graphics), 32GB of RAM and 1TB of storage via SSD. GNOME versions 40.5 and KDE Plasma 5.22.5 were used through Ubuntu 21.10 along with Linux 5.16 as the kernel.

First of all we have the general energy consumption of the system. Here Wayland showed a consumption between two and three watts lower than that of Xorg in both GNOME and KDE Plasma. This is an important saving considering what modern laptops consume, especially those with low consumption, although it would be necessary to see if this saving is fixed or if it is rather a percentage.

The processor power consumption, which was measured with the PowerCap interface, has also been minor in Wayland sessions.

And when the processor temperatures, Wayland gains again (Obviously if its lower energy consumption has been in evidence). The funny thing is that in the three tests the results are apparently more even between GNOME and KDE Plasma using Wayland than using Xorg.


That the Wayland sessions are superior in energy efficiency is a great point in their favor, more so considering that the autonomy of laptops has traditionally been a pending issue of the Linux desktop.

Taking the results of the two sets of tests linked in this article, it is evident that GNOME here has benefited doubly, since the performance of its Wayland session is more or less even and exceeds that obtained by Xorg on more than one occasion. If we add this to the greater energy efficiency, it is clear that today it is smarter to use Wayland than Xorg on a laptop, more considering the mature implementation of the protocol that GNOME enjoys.

For its part, it seems that KDE Plasma still has some unfinished business with performance and operation, but let’s hope that the constant push that your Wayland session is receiving ends up correcting the pending fringes.

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