How To: Super Easily Speed Up Compiz / CompizFusion

A real quick and easy way to speed up your compiz experience – first we’re gonna use fusion-icon which is just a little systray icon to get access to your compiz settings (also this is very useful to reload the window manager or set it back to KWin/Metacity or whatnot if Compiz decides to act up in any way). Fusion-icon isn’t bundled with Compiz by default, so if you haven’t already got it, from the terminal go with:

sudo apt-get install fusion-icon

[Update: It turns out you also need Compiz Settings Manager, so run sudo apt-get install compizconfig-settings-manager ]

Okay – now you’ve got it, you might want to run it… From the console type:


And you’ll end up with a systray icon like the one pictured below:


Okay – almost there… Right click on the Compiz Fusion Icon and select Settings Manager and then General Options and click the Display Settings tab. Here you’ll see the two options we’re going to tweak:

  • Refresh Rate, and
  • Sync to VBlank

Basically – to increase performance you just bang the refresh rate up to a higher value (maximum of 200) and untick the “Sync to VBlank” checkbox…


With that done, I get the following performance change from the Compiz Benchmark (found in Compiz Settings Manager):


Over 230% speed increase? Not bad at all. However – as we all know there’s no such thing as a free lunch, for the sake of balance I’ll outline some downfalls of this method as well:

  • Your graphics card will be getting more of a workout, so will run hotter and the fans will spin faster (hence noisier) – and this can decrease the lifetime of your graphics card, but really only in the same way that driving your car will decrease the lifetime of your tyres… It’s there to be used!
  • With Sync to Vblank disabled – you’re going to get a bit of page-tearing, the severity of which and how much it bothers you will depend on your system and your own personal preferences.
  • Your compiz.real and Xorg process time will increase – which is to be expected as they’re going to be doing more work.

If you’re good with that or just want to cheaply get a big performance hit – go for it and enjoy your swifter compiz desktop!

Also, you don’t really need to whack the refresh up all the way to 200 if you’re just looking for a small boost. Edging the refresh up a little bit and leaving VSync on can be enough to improve performance to a point where everything is smooth & swish but isn’t hogging the box. Have a play with the options and see what best fits. Cheers!

Update: I’ve also found that (on NVidia graphics cards at least) checking the loose binding box through fusion-icon (under Compiz Options) increases compiz performance, as it seems the NVidia driver is pretty slow at assigning textures. If you wanted to start compiz from the commandline with this option, just call it with:

compiz --loose-binding


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