Tag Archives: Gaming

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.
Continue reading Intel’s Broadwell-U and HD 5500 Performance

Budget Gaming PC, April 2015

The concept of a "Gaming PC" often gets a bad rap. You'll get a lot of people looking at the cost of a top-of-the-line $2000 pre-built system (or just an overpriced gaming system) and wondering, "Who on earth would spend that much money on a system that's just for playing games!?" Obviously, the idea that a gaming PC is just for playing games is ludicrous -- any modern PC that can play games can inherently do all of the other PC-centric tasks equally well, if not better than the average non-gaming PC.

And since most homes in developed countries already have at least one PC, the true cost of a "gaming PC" is often the price of a graphics card. We already discussed the subject of graphics cards in our previous post, so today we're going to flesh things out with a look at what to use when putting together a complete budget gaming PC. Our goal is to have a system that can handle all the latest games at reasonable quality setting, priced at less than $750.

Continue reading Budget Gaming PC, April 2015

Best Video Cards, April 2015

After half a year of discussing gaming performance, it's time for some specific video card recommendations. Almost everyone these days has access to a PC, but what if you'd like to turn that PC into a bona fide gaming rig? This is something I've often felt is a critical factor in the gaming consoles vs. gaming PCs debate: you can do much, much more with a PC than with a console. So take any moderate PC -- all you really need is 8GB RAM and a Core i3/Athlon X4 or higher to get started, though a Core i5 or AMD FX would have more legs -- and add in a video card and you now have the equivalent or in many cases a superior gaming system compared to the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, or Nintendo Wii U. But what sort of performance can you expect from the current generation of video cards, and which GPUs are the best buys right now? (Side note: I'll use the terms "video card" and "GPU" largely interchangeably, though technically the GPU refers more to the chip on the video card than the card itself.)
Continue reading Best Video Cards, April 2015

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.
Continue reading Dragon Age Inquisition: The Highs and Lows of AMD’s Mantle

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....
Continue reading The Crew Performance – Frame Caps Suck!

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....
Continue reading Company of Heroes 2 Performance

4K Gaming Thoughts

I've recently acquired a new 4K display, to be specific it's the Acer XB280HK 28" G-SYNC enabled display. That means several things are now in progress. First, 4K gaming benchmarks are going to be run on all of the games, at least with GPUs where it makes sense. (Hint: 4K gaming on a low-end GPU or Intel's Processor Graphics isn't going to happen!) Second, I have some thoughts in general on the subject of 4K gaming, and I also wanted to chime in with some thoughts on the Acer XB280HK display and NVIDIA's G-SYNC Technology. So let's take those in order -- the benchmarks will be updated when results are available, though you can always check the Gaming Benchmarks page for a preview of games that are being tested.
Continue reading 4K Gaming Thoughts

Shadow of Mordor Performance – Resolution Shenanigans and Benchmark Madness

Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor (which I'm just going to call Shadow of Mordor from here on) sort of came out of nowhere and has become the sleeper hit of the month. Created by Monolith Productions -- the company behind "classics" like Blood and Shogo: Mobile Armor Division, not to mention more recent titles like F.E.A.R. and F.E.A.R. 2, No One Lives Forever, and Condemned -- I don't know that anyone was really expecting much from yet another Middle-Earth game. It's not that games based on Tolkien are all bad, but there have been so many over the decades and more often than not they've been at best mediocre. Anyway, Shadow of Mordor plays a lot like the Batman: Arkham Asylum/City/Origins games, or the Assassin's Creed games, or probably any number of other stealth/beat-em-up third person games. I've enjoyed quite a few of those titles, and you can definitely add Shadow of Mordor to the list.
Continue reading Shadow of Mordor Performance – Resolution Shenanigans and Benchmark Madness

Tomb Raider Performance

If Skyrim is a poor choice for a graphics benchmark, Tomb Raider is on the opposite end of the spectrum. Part of that almost certainly stems from Tomb Raider's next-gen console roots, as the CPU core in both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One is relatively slow compared to a modern PC core -- they both use AMD's Jaguar core, which is found in AMD Kabini APUs -- but Tomb Raider is also very good at utilizing GPU resources. The result is that you get excellent scaling with faster GPUs in Tomb Raider, much more than what you see in other games.
Continue reading Tomb Raider Performance

GPU Performance – Test Systems

Performance benchmarking with graphics cards (GPUs, aka Graphics Processing Units) is what we at Gaming Bench are here to provide, but if you want to know what sort of GPU Performance you can expect, it helps to know what we're using for our test systems. It might seem a little late in coming, since we've already posted results for five games, but we're still early in the game. We'll of course update our selection of hardware as time passes, but let's get to the current selection.
Continue reading GPU Performance – Test Systems