The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind Benchmark

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The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind is an ambitous RPG that gained critical acclaim by critics and fans alike. One of the great features of Morrowind are the large expansive spaces and realisitc environments. Amoung all of the locations available in Morrowind, the city of Balmora is one of the most stressful for a videocard. The city features a pixel-shaded river running through the middle, a large number of buildings, and many characters walking in the streets — all of which help bring a capable card to its knees.

MSI Ti4800SE-VTD8X Video Card Review - Graphics Cards 17
Morning in Balmora city.

Since Morrowind does not have a benchmark tool included, the following tests were accomplished by loading a saved game in Balmora and walking around the city centre along the banks of the river. FRAPS is used to record the frame rates, the raw data is then entered into a spreadsheet and the results calculated. Also to ensure the test accurately represents the dynamics of the game, I made sure to cast a few spells and attack a few guards. 😉

Benchmark Notes

  • Real-time shadows OFF.
  • Default fog distance.
  • Pixel-shader ON.
  • 1st person view.
  • One circuit around the center takes about 1 minute.

Morrowind Benchmark. 1024x768. Balmora city.

At 1024×768, we see the card doing fairly well. At AA and AF levels between 0x0 and 2×8 we see the card averaging around the 30FPS which is very reasonable. At 4xAA, we see the performance drop drastically with an average FPS less than 25. However, with 2×2 to 2×8 AAxAF, the game looks amazing and performs decently.

The low numbers you see on the above tests are the results of casting spells inside the city. Spell effects are peculiar in Morrowind as they would drop your frames by almost 10 frames in order to render the effects. The lag is temporary, but annoying if you’re a spell caster.

Morrowind Benchmark. 1600x1200. Balmora city.

Here we see the punishing effects of Balmora – about 50% of the available AA and AF settings are unplayable (average 25 FPS or less). As with the Unreal Tournament 2003 benchmarks, only very light Anti-aliasing or Ansiotropic filtering will do at this resolution.

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