It is going on a year since showing how Unity, Compiz, GNOME Shell & KWin affect graphics/gaming performance, so here is an updated 2012 look. In this article are a variety of OpenGL benchmarks run under the current latest desktops as will be found in Ubuntu 12.04 LTS: Unity, Unity 2D, GNOME Shell, GNOME Classic, KDE Plasma, and Xfce. AMD and NVIDIA graphics were tested with both the latest closed and open-source drivers.
This testing is similar to last year's article showing how the desktop environments / (compositing) window managers affected the gaming performance when running a variety of full-screen games. This time around though it is an updated look at things with all of the leading desktops having advanced a great deal in the past year. The operating system, the desktop packages, and drivers were all using the latest packages from the Ubuntu Precise (12.04) repository as of 7 February.