I have a 1GB RAM PC running Lubuntu. In Xubuntu is still ok, but in KDE and Unity it is not. (The condition of my PC appears clearly in this answer).

Compared to these DE-s, where stands Cinnamon? I am in the mood to try it but I thought maybe to ask first :)

  • Whether certain DEs slow down one's computer depends on the computer's specs which you have not provided. The lower the computer's specs, the higher the chance certain DEs will slow it down or make the CPU work hard or make the computer run hotter. The question as it stands is not possible to answer and will just engender "debate". – user25656 Feb 10 '13 at 3:13

Cinnamon vs...

I haven't found anyone who has done a direct Cinnamon vs anything else resource usage study.

Its arguable that Phoronix has done the closest to this looking at the performance comparison between gnome-shell (Mutter) & unity (compiz) using both NVIDIA and ATI graphics. They have also looked at battery usage between Gnome, KDE, LXDE and XFCE.

Since Cinnamon's Muffin is a fork of Mutter - you should perhaps assume the performance and resource usage will be similar or the same i.e. you could argue there is a direct read-across for the Gnome results to Cinnamon.

My reading of the results - and making the assumption that better performance is equivalent to less resource usage for the same work - is that gnome-shell and unity were equally resource hungry. Thus expect Cinnamon and Unity to be similar.

Results varied depending on the actual graphics card - when using NVIDIA drivers, these were equally resource hungry, whereas gnome-shell using ATI was more resource hungry than Unity.

Thus - you should expect Cinnamon to have the same resource profile as Gnome-Shell.

The study also revealed KWin trumped both Mutter and Compiz - LXDE and XFCE trumped these all.

Usual caveats should apply when trying to interpret Phoronix results & methodologies - arguments should be directed to the Phoronix forums!

  • this answer is a couple years old but I really wonder how things would compare now. In fact I tend to refrain from asking time sensitive questions since the answers are quickly outdated. Anyone know how the new Plasma desktop compares to gnome-shell? I'd really like to know about elementary freya and cinnamon 17.1 (with compiz enabled) as well – Joshua Robison Feb 6 '15 at 3:42

In theory, nothing should slow down. The performance should be somewhere along the lines of unity's performance, perhaps even a little better.

In practice, on the other hand, the remains of Unity and thus remaining GTK/GNOME-based software might cause a drop in performance, compared to a bare cinnamon install/Mint.

That said, there is no real benchmark for performance of DEs, so ... we can't really give actual stats - and your best bet is to just try it out. DEs act very differently sometimes.

  • I myself, for example, can't manage to get bare GNOME running properly at all, so ... it's really a "just try it" kind of thing. – user98085 Feb 10 '13 at 1:54
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    Why would having extra libraries on the disk slow down performance? If they're not in use, they're not loaded. Furthermore, Cinnamon uses GTK+; it's a fork of GNOME Shell, not a totally unrelated dekstop environment. The slowdown you're suggesting seems very implausible. – Eliah Kagan Feb 10 '13 at 11:10
  • @EliahKagan Obsolete data on the hard disk does cause a performance issue, but that's obviously nowhere near important. And on the second part I was really more referring to unity-only applications still running in cinnamon. I'm not saying the drop is likely to be a big one, but it's likely to exist at all. – user98085 Feb 10 '13 at 11:58
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    Can you substantiate the claim that obsolete data on a hard disk reduces performance at all? Also, what Unity-only applications are you thinking of? – Eliah Kagan Feb 10 '13 at 12:02

I will post considering IDLE conditions in 64 bit system.

Starting from system requirements , they actually Require the same as can be seen here for Ubuntu

The minimum memory requirement for Ubuntu 12.04 (32-bit) is 384 MB and (64-bit) 512 MB of memory for Ubuntu

And for Cinnamon

x86 processor (Linux Mint 64-bit requires a 64-bit processor. Linux Mint 32-bit works on both 32-bit and 64-bit processors).
512 MB RAM (1GB recommended for a comfortable usage).
5 GB of disk space
Graphics card capable of 800×600 resolution
CD/DVD drive or USB port

Memory consumed by Compiz (Unity's Main ingredient) it takes upto 82~86 MB of RAM

enter image description here

Similarly for Cinnamon (w/o Desktop Effects), takes about the same amount as 82~86 MB RAM

enter image description here

Cinnamon (w/o Desktop Effects) in Idle state RAM usage

enter image description here

And for Unity it takes about 550~600 MB , the reason for that is i have Lots of Lenses installed hogging up-to ~15 MB RAM for each including Indicators. So that gets counted in extra usage.

With Desktop effects enabled in Cinnamon , it will take the same amount( 550~600 MB) or more . Well its only Traditional Desktop compared to Unity's Concept.

My Usage derived result says, there is exceptionally No Performance difference between them apart from Different Desktop Experience depending on Compiz and Cinnamon.

You should definitely give it a try to judge it personally.


No, using Cinnamon should not slow down your computer in any way. So feel free to use Unity or Cinnamon or GNOME.

  • Well this is not fully true, ofc will any desktop environment use some CPU. Use only TTY terminals if you like to have no impact at all. Or try to use awesome window manager which is very light weight. – danger89 Sep 29 '18 at 23:14

I finally installed Cinnamon and found it less heavier than expected for a Lubuntu user, lighter than Unity and even KDE, maybe somewhere between this and Xubuntu. I am talking about the general feel, taking into account what the other respondents clearly stated here.

I would continue to use it from time to time -- if it were not for the ridiculously small icons, fonts and margins of the panel, which are difficult to change.


No, in general, IMO, your performance is not dependent on the Desktop environment. I advise you use the one you like.

Performance can be affected by hardware drivers, most common video and wireless. It is also dependent on what services you are running in the background and what applications you use.

IMO, The Desktop environment matters least.

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    I disagree. Using KDE on an old machine will certainly slow you down, while using LXDE would not. – Seth Feb 9 '13 at 23:23
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    In fact, the very idea of LXDE is to provide a faster DE - and it shows. – user98085 Feb 10 '13 at 1:40
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    @FEichinger does that mean cinnamon will make my enviorment slower? – Kamerom Feb 10 '13 at 1:52
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    @Kamerom I just answered the question myself. It probably won't, in comparison to Unity, but it's most likely slower than LXDE. – user98085 Feb 10 '13 at 1:53
  • I also like to disagree. Try using awesome window manager or indeed LXDE or better no desktop environment at all (TTY terminals!). – danger89 Sep 29 '18 at 23:15