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Switching to Linux..... AMD GPU Drivers


I have been testing the waters with linux for a while and have installed Manjaro linux, so far fairly comfortable with desktop and command line. Not completely new but would like to pose some questions.

  1. For AMD GPU is the Open Source driver good enough when playing Steam/Proton games etc or should I use the AMD proprietary drivers.

  2. Ive updated to Kernel 5.10, what other tweaks should I do, plan to mostly work and game


The community drivers are (often) lagging behind the “official” drivers and as these need to interact with your kernel, it may cause compatibility issues. Having said that, the AMD drivers can also experience compatibility issues as they too need matching kernel modules. Besides that, there’s the issue of legacy drivers: if you use an old(er) GPU it may not be supported for a recent kernel version. I ran into this with an nVidia card recently, the 5 series kernel won’t allow the nvidia-legacy drivers to install. So I’d have to revert to an old 4.9 kernel instead. Not ideal to say the least.

Yeah I am running with the a 6000 series card… so proprietary?

Trial and error, I guess. Try the radeon driver first, if that doesn’t work try the AMD driver for your kernel.

The last two years or so, AMD Open Source drivers are pretty much spot-on. As far as I can tell, the only benefit to get the pro drivers these days are that they provide some productivity stuff like ROCm. And I think those are slowly being migrated to the Open Source driver, too.

See, for instance, the latest Phoronix benchmarks where the Radeon Open Driver comes extremely close to the Nvidia closed driver, bringing the 6800 XT neck-to-neck with the 3080:


This has been my casual observation as well, for any AMD video card that’s been out a while, the built in kernel drivers are generally going to be as good or better than AMD’s pro drivers for general purpose/gaming. Which is really nice because “it just werks”.

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As far as I am aware the “amd” driver is just the kernel driver plus OpenCL support.

For gaming and other apps that aren’t using opencl there is zero difference. It’s literally the same driver. I ran steam/proton gaming in Linux exclusively with no vendor driver for over a year.

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Ah, you’re right. Now I’m wonder what the hell I got that mixed up with…


The amdgpu-pro driver (i.e. the proprietary one) sits on top of the open source (and official) amdgpu driver. In games it tends to reduce performance. The reason it exists is for validation in professional applications and nothing more.

I hope you do realise the amdgpu driver is the official driver right?

They are still supported, depending on the Distro you might just have to enable the old radeon driver manually.

No, see above.

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This hasn’t been true for any AMD card since Polaris.

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Actually more precisely, there is no “community driver” for AMD.

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In short, use Mesa - profit. Do not touch the radeon drivers unless running a really old gpu.
(Probably using by default so no need to worry about it, all you might want to think about is what version you are on)

Mesa has nothing to do with AMD per se.

Mesa is the implementation of various GPU related APIs, and is what sits between your application and the actual driver.

radeon is the old driver, amdgpu is the new driver, amdgpu-pro is a certified driver that sits on top of amdgpu.

All 3 work with Mesa, and so do Intel and Nvidia (when using nuveaou).