Linux host, Windows guest, gaming?

So right now I dual boot Elementary OS and Windows 8.1. I use Elementary OS as my daily driver and workhorse (software engineer working from home) and windows for gaming.

Here are my specs.

  • CPU - i7 6800K
  • GPU - GTX 970
  • RAM - 32 GB DDR4
  • Storage -
    • Samsung 950 Pro (NVMe) 256 GB
    • 2x Samsung 840 Pro (Sata) 128 GB
    • 4 TB rotational

Switching between the two is kind of obnoxious. Anyone run windows in a virtual machine on linux and game on that? I could put in a second gpu for elementary OS, and then pass through my GTX 970 for windows in a virtual machine. Think that could work?

You would need a second graphics card to pass through to your guest OS (It can be anything, but you'll have the most success with 2 different cards).

There are a few videos on how to do this and I would suggest you check out GrayWolfTech, his tutorial is based on debian but other than some minor changes it applies to pretty much any distro.

You can find a short, but relatively hard to folllow video on his channel, but he has uploaded a written guide on this forum aswell

The Video
The written guide

1 Like

Thanks for the links. I know I need a second video card, got a couple options to choose from. I'm more concerned with performance and input lag. I see a bunch of video and tutorials but no ones mentioning performance in comparison to native windows

A really good way to reduce input lag to an absolute minimum is to get a keyboard and mouse switch. (something like this).

Performance loss is maybe 1-5% dependent on what is running on your host.

Also audio can be a little hit-or-miss, PulseAudio is the software that works for most people. (I had crackling and decided to buy a line mixer, but that had other reasosn too.)

If you want to try out the input lag and if it's noticeable for you. You should try synergy
which is open source so you CAN get it for free from their website. If you want to support the project it's like 10$ if you use a discount link from LTT or somewhere.

Here's the 50% off link if you're interested:

Forgot to mention that to get the free version of synergy you have to scroll down click download and make an account.

@wendell just released another Video about that just yesterday, check that out. Benchmarks incoming soon™. He was working with Fedora but as I understand any Distro with latest kernel would do.

He also released a writeup to go along with.

The Video and Guide

Performance on a winVM is nearly bare metal native performance, I'm still pulling the same amount of frames but have noticed a 5% lower minimum in games, fairly sure my Xeons are a bit of a bottleneck for CPU performance but they were cheap so Eh.

I/O is still a bit of an issue for me, I am passing through two physical disks where my Windows 10 installation used to be using VirtIO and raw storage options, one of which is an Intel 520 SSD and the other a WD green Tb drive, loading up the OS is a bit of a strain on the SSD, which is capped at 100% load for like a minute or two, noticeably slower than native performance but this will subside eventually and you can use the system with virtually no distinguishable difference in speed. I am sure as time goes on I will find a way to iron out this issue with some fine tuning, as I have noticed that passing through a non physical drive such as a img file gives me native levels of performance.

I also use a separate mouse and keyboard passed through to the VM so there is no latency there either. Just have to remember to stow away my linux keyboard and mouse under my desk when im gaming so i don't accidentally button mash stuff in my host

I would highly recommend doing it, I used to dual boot as I was in a similar camp to you but singlebooting is much less of a headache.