Category Archives: Benchmarks

Intel’s Broadwell-U and HD 5500 Performance

Everyone knows that Intel doesn't make the fastest graphics solutions in the world right now. In fact, at best their GPUs are typically equivalent to the slowest GPUs that AMD and NVIDIA make; at worst, they're about half that level of performance. But they have one quality that makes them essentially ubiquitous: they're "free". Outside of Intel's enthusiast LGA2011 platform, all current Intel platforms use processors that include some form of graphics. From the lowly Celerons and Pentiums up to high-end Core i7 processors, if you buy any of Intel's consumer CPUs you're going to get some form of Intel graphics.
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Gigabyte P35W v3 Performance Review

When NVIDIA first launched their latest mobile GPU updates, the GTX 980M impressed with the level of performance delivered. A few months later, the bigger surprise is perhaps that the GTX 980M is finding its way into relatively thin laptops. The Gigabyte P35W v3 is currently the thinnest laptop equipped with a GTX 980M GPU, with a Core i7-4710HQ on the CPU front. We tested the same configuration in the MSI GT72, a substantially larger notebook with much better cooling; it also foregoes NVIDIA's Optimus Technology, so it should in general be a bit faster. But do you really need to give up much in the way of performance for a thinner gaming laptop? The answer is no, though with some qualifications.
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Evolve Initial Launch Woes

Evolve came out last week to somewhat mixed reviews -- some have loved it, others have bagged on it, and still others are undecided. A big part of the problem has been 2K Games' decision to have a bunch of Day One DLC -- Downloadable Content -- mostly consisting of skins that they're asking you to buy separately. If this were a Free to Play (F2P) game, we could accept that, but with a $60 price tag it's adding insult to injury. We're not here to talk about the DLC fiasco, though; what we want to quickly discuss is how broken the game is in terms of performance. If the game worked properly, we'd be happy to provide some benchmarks in our usual charts, but the results right now are just all over the place.
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Dragon Age Inquisition: The Highs and Lows of AMD’s Mantle

The latest game in the Dragon Age series launched last year to critical and popular acclaim. Dragon Age Inquisition from developers BioWare and published by Electronic Arts won plenty of awards for 2014, even though it came out towards the end of November, and it is undoubtedly one of the best RPGs of recent history. With a current Metacritic rating of 85%, it's by no means perfect, but if you're a fan of the genre or series picking the latest release up is a no-brainer.
Except you might be wondering if you actually have enough graphics power to handle the game in all its glory. BioWare also updated the engine from their own Lycium/Eclipse engine used in the earlier titles to DICE's FrostBite 3 engine, of Battlefield 4 fame. Besides supporting advanced rendering features, FrostBite 3 is one of the few engines to fully support AMD's Mantle API, and that means most games that use the engine will by default support Mantle. So how much does Mantle help with performance, and what sort of hardware do you need to run Dragon Age Inquisition? The answers end up being a bit more complex than you might suspect.
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The Talos Principle Performance – A Sleeper Hit

Here's a game that just might have snuck in under your radar if you don't closely follow the PC gaming sector: The Talos Principle. The game was created by Croteam, the guys behind the silly but fun Serious Sam series, with writing by some excellent talent from indie gaming talent behind FTL, The Swapper, and The Sea Will Claim Everything. The game has also been compared quite favorably with Portal and Portal 2, and having played the game a bit I can say that it's not simply hubris creating such comparisons. Still not sure if this is your type of game? There's a free demo of the game that should help answer that question, or you can look at the reviews and see the 87% overall rating at Metacritic; in other words, this game is certainly worth a look.
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Assassin’s Creed Unity Performance – A Beautiful Pig

The holiday rush for getting games on store shelves always creates some problems. For one, games that are otherwise good can sometimes get lost in the shuffle, but perhaps even worse is that publishers often ship games in a state where they're not really complete. Sometimes the games are just buggy and unstable, other times they're missing features, or maybe performance is worse than it should be -- and in the worst scenarios they can completely fail to run. We encountered a bit of this with Lords of the Fallen, going so far as to retest all of the graphics cards with the updated (patched) version of the game. We could go back and retest most of the games released late last year at least one more time as patches and driver updates continue to come out. However, there's plenty of other items keeping us busy so instead let's just look at one game where we have initial (near launch date) performance as well as current (as of the end of January) performance: Assassin's Creed Unity.
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Crysis 3 Performance: Can Your New PC Handle It?

"Sure your system is fast, but can it run Crysis?" When Crytek first launched Crysis back in 2007, it was so demanding that not even the fastest systems were able to handle running the game without turning down some of the features. It ended up becoming something of a joke, trotted out for every new hardware release over the coming years, for everything from graphics cards to super computers and even smartphones and tablets. And as with all things related to computers, eventually we actually did have systems capable of running the original Crysis at frame rates well above 60 FPS.
Of course by then we had Crysis Warhead and then Crysis 2 to help reset the performance scale, and thus the joke has continued. As the latest game in the series, Crysis 3 ups the ante yet again for computing hardware... though these days there are plenty of other games that can give it a run for the money in terms of being the most demanding game. Regardless of age (Crysis 3 is now nearly two years old -- happy birthday!), including Crysis 3 in our list of benchmarks was something I've been meaning to do, and I've now taken the time to benchmark it on our current collection of GPUs.
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The Crew Performance – Frame Caps Suck!

Want to know how not to build a good cross-platform title that's worth testing? The Crew from Ubisoft is a good answer. I'm not sure if I should blame Ubisoft or Ivory Tower, but someone in the product management side of the equation needs to have their butt kicked. Why the negativity? Simple: frame rate caps are stupid and lazy, and what's more they can artificially limit the game in question, particularly on the PC platform. It's one thing to try to target 30 or 60 FPS on a console game, as everyone will presumably connect the console to an HDTV, but PCs have a lot of other options... like for example a 2560x1440 G-SYNC display that can refresh at up to 144Hz; run The Crew on that bad boy and you're going to lock in at 60 FPS, just like everyone else. In a word, it's stupid. It also makes a game pretty useless as a benchmark, but since I have a copy of The Crew I wanted to at least play around with some testing....
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Lichdom Battlemage Performance

Lichdom Battlemage is an interesting title as it uses Cry Engine 3, the same engine that powers Crysis 3 -- which happens to be one of those games that can still kill just about any system at maximum quality. Combine a swords and sorcery story with the run and gun gameplay of an FPS, and then give it some often times laughable American voiceovers and you get Lichdom Battlemage. Reviews for the game are decidedly average, but with a price of under $15 now it's at least affordable; what about system requirements?
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F1 2014 Performance

I'm really going to keep this short, as F1 2014 happens to be one of the least demanding "modern" games we're likely to benchmark. We've tested quite a few other racing games from Codemasters, but where GRID 2 and GRID Autosport can at least push your GPUs a bit at higher settings, F1 2014 basically rolls over like a playful little puppy with even the slightest amount of GPU performance. Check this out....
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