Performance – Diablo 3, Skyrim, Battlefield 3
Performance – Diablo 3
Diablo 3 has earned a lot of praise (and a lot of criticism) since its initial release. I think it’s a beautiful game that combines good-enough technical quality with excellent art direction. The game can run on just about anything built in the last few years if the Low FX setting is turned on, but you really should run it on high to appreciate all the game has to offer.
Our benchmark is recorded via FRAPs using a character who will be perpetually stuck in the early Cathedral dungeons as a benchmarking mule.
Even at 1366×768, this game puts out the pain on most of the graphics solutions in our roundup. Intel HD 4000 is unplayable at high detail. The 26 FPS result from Trinity looks good, but I still found it a frustrating experience. Diablo 3 is all about fast-paced action and this means slow framerates are readily apparent. Even the GT 630M is borderline. And then we have the GT 640M, which doubles the performance of the GT 630M and runs away from the pack.
At 1080p none of the integrated solutions are remotely playable and the GT 630M also falls on its face. Only the GT 640M can handle the game at this resolution with high detail settings. Even at an average of 45 FPS there were periods of slower performance that could be noticed and I suspect that gamers playing on Inferno difficulty may need to turn down the graphics in order to ensure smoothness at all times.
Performance – Skyrim
Skyrim is a game that turned out to be a lot less demanding than I had feared. The past history of Elder Scrolls titles indicated that this would bring computers to their knees, but it turns out that medium detail is fairly easy for modern laptops to handle and the gastill looks okay.
The benchmark is a simple save game in an outdoors area in the southeast of the map. Gameplay is recorded via FRAPS. I always walk down the same path and kill the same monsters with the same mace-and-shield to make sure this is an apples-to-apples comparison.
Okay, here’s a shocker: Skyrim at medium detail is about as demanding as both Civilization 5 at low/medium and Diablo 3 at high. If you had told me three years ago that the next Elder Scrolls game and the next Civilization game would be equally difficult to run I would have called you crazy.
This title is arguably the worst showing for Intel HD 4000 – and the best for Trinity. The Radeon 7660G and the NVIDIA GT 630M nearly double the performance of the best HD 4000 solution at 1366×768. Upping the resolution to 1080p drags down Trinity into unenjoyable territory, but the GT 630M remains capable. And then we have the GT 640M which once again proves that upgrading to a mid-range GPU offers a huge performance boost relative to any IGP on the market today.
Performance – Battlefield 3
Battlefield 3 is another example of a beautiful game that runs surprisingly well. Many people were expecting it to raise the bar on graphics, and in many ways I think that it did. This is a spectacular game even at medium detail. But unlike some previous graphical showcases it’s entirely possible to play BF3 on current low-end laptop hardware.
My benchmark takes place during the second mission in the game and starts right after you’re given the mission to find a missing squad. The player has to run through the streets before being ambushed in a parking lot area.
At 1366×768 and medium detail the game is just barely playable on the Core i7-3720QM’s version of HD 4000 and is playable on Trinity and both discrete solutions. While Trinity and the GT 630M have similar average framerates, I did feel like the game was smoother on the GT 630M.
I have to go to 1080p if I really want to challenge the hardware, and this changes the situation significantly. Suddenly only the GT 640M is playable at medium detail, and even that solution was just barely capable of handling the strain.