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Company of Heroes 2 Performance

I'm not going to spend a lot of time on this one, as it's another older title, but I have a bunch of results for Company of Heroes 2 already in my database so I wanted to at least put them somewhere readers could find. Released in June 2013, Company of Heroes 2 is the sequel to the very popular original RTS that launched in 2006. Unfortunately, it's generally considered to be not as good as the first game -- it has a metacritic rating of 80% compared to 93% for the original. I'm sure part of that is the fact that the original game was actually a new approach to RTS (Real-Time Strategy) games in many ways, while the sequel is more of a rehash of stuff we've seen before. Oh, and Company of Heroes can be a pig when it comes to system requirements and performance. Which is why I'm here....

Company of Heroes 2 - Performance and Analysis



NVIDIA's GTX 980 takes the lead as the fastest single GPU solution, which is pretty much par for the course. What's interesting is that AMD's R9 290X CrossFire comes in second, but scaling from one GPU to two GPUs is negligible at best. The GTX 970 is technically the second fastest GPU overall (thanks mostly to better minimum frame rates compared to the R9 290X), with a moderate lead over the older GTX 780.
Looking at performance with lower quality settings, it appears that Company of Heroes 2 is relatively CPU limited -- or at least there's some bottleneck other than pure GPU performance. By the time we get to our 1920x1080 High settings, the GTX 980 and 970 are effectively tied, with the R9 290X and GTX 780 likewise in a dead heat. Interestingly, CrossFire performance actually scaled better once we get away from the Ultra quality settings, so one or more of the settings seems to be limiting scaling at Ultra.
As for lower quality gaming options, the R7 250X and GTX 860M (basically similar to GTX 750 Ti performance) can handle up to around 1080p High, and the game isn't as dependent on high frame rates given it's an overhead strategy game so anything above 30FPS is sufficient. Meanwhile, the Intel HD 4600 completely chokes on Company of Heroes 2, falling well into the single digits at moderate to high quality settings, and only posting average frame rates of 16.5FPS at our 1366x768 Low setting. (You could drop to "Minimum" quality to perhaps improve things, but that's setting the bar pretty low.)
Update: Running Company of Heroes 2 with all settings maxed out at 4K resolutions... just isn't going to happen in the near future. The memory load combined with 4x SSAA (at the "maximum" AA setting) is enormous, so we tested with Medium AA and otherwise maxed out settings. With CrossFire scaling either broken or simply not viable, not one of our test configurations is able to break 30FPS and minimum frame rates are in the mid to low teens. Ouch. If you're serious about 4K gaming in Company of Heroes 2, plan on dropping another notch to "High" or even "Medium" quality on some settings to get acceptable frame rates. The GTX 980 ends up with a Pyrrhic victory, just edging out the R9 290X, but again you'll need lower settings or a faster GPU to make 4K viable.

Company of Heroes 2 Image Quality

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Low on left, then Medium, High, and Ultra
What's most surprising to me with Company of Heroes 2 is that it just doesn't look all that great, even at maximum quality settings. Maybe it's the bleak settings, but the buildings, terrain, and other details are pretty mediocre for a game that's dropping even our fastest GPUs down to the 30FPS range. The hit from anti-aliasing is quite severe, however, so disabling that one item can improve things quite a bit in terms of performance. At the "High" setting, there is a bit of a drop off in other areas (e.g. terrain deformation), but it's mostly similar looking. Medium and Low quality on the other hand really start to reduce the texture resolution to the point where the game looks pretty much like visible polygons with low resolution textures.

How to Benchmark Company of Heroes 2

Company of Heroes 2 has a built-in benchmark that's available from the main menu under the Graphics tab. There are no specific presets, so we defined our own settings, which you can see in the images below. Simply set the appropriate quality, click "Accept" (and possibly confirming that you are willing to run at settings the game thinks are too much for your hardware -- even when they're not!), then go back into the Graphics menu and make sure the settings are correct before clicking the "Performance Test" button. At the end of the benchmark sequence, you're given the average and minimum FPS results.
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