Notebookcheck

Alien: Isolation Benchmarked

Florian Glaser (translated by Ariana Brodsky), 10/21/2014

On the hunt for horror. Creative Assembly, known mostly for their time-consuming epic strategy games (the Total War series), dares to take on one of the greatest film classics ever. Alien: Isolation is intended to transport the player into the atmosphere of the original movie. Your role? The hunted. Which GPU is fast enough to "outrun" Alien?

Alien: Isolation Logo

Working For Notebookcheck

Are you a loyal reader of notebookcheck? Are you a techie who knows how to write? Then join our Team!

Especially wanted:
Review Editor
 - Details here
News Editor - Details here

German-English-Translator - Details here

For the original German article, see here.

Graphics

The engine, specially programmed for the game, is not in every respect on the level we would desire of a game released in 2014, but the graphics still make a very good impression. In terms of positive aspects, the play of light and shadows is certainly worthy of mention. When the player, represented by the female main character, creeps down the dark, narrow passageways in the Sevastopol space station, the claustrophobic atmosphere is immediately palpable. Often the contrast between bright and dark environments is interrupted by colorful lights and/or walls, which makes for a great color dynamic.

In general, the makers of Alien: Isolation are very faithful to the original. When we say that, we mean more than just the story - we mean the film's unique style. Any search for modern computers or other technological gadgets we carry with us today would be fruitless. The fact that the atmosphere is reminiscent of 2001: A Space Odyssey is deserving of praise.

Alien: Isolation
Alien: Isolation
Alien: Isolation

But back to the graphics. While the game environments are often less than fantastic, the main characters are very believable (especially the faces). Along with the polygon count, the texture sharpness is also well-done here. Only when it comes to animation do we see room for improvement.

The second highlight - as previously mentioned - is the lighting. The particle, smoke and fire effects make the game even more pleasing to the eye. The developer's choice to nix high-quality anti-aliasing, however, we count as a flaw. The FXAA and SMAA modes only smooth the edges subtly. With MSAA or the like, the image would look calmer.

Alien: Isolation
Alien: Isolation
Alien: Isolation

The graphics menu immediately makes a good impression. True, scrolling through with a mouse and keyboard is a bit tricky, but the title offers almost 20 options, ranging from A as in "Adjust Gamma" to V as in "Vsync".

Of course, Creative Assembly also built in a few modern features, including ambient occlusion in the forms of SSAO and HDAO, for example. While some options can only be turned "on" and "off", the detail level, the shadow quality and the particles can be adjusted across 4-5 notches.

Low Settings
Low Settings
Medium Settings
Medium Settings
High Settings
High Settings
Ultra Settings
Ultra Settings

Except when it comes to shadows, however, changes to these settings are hardly noticeable in practice. This means Isolation never looks bad, but it never looks fantastic either. Those who like the "old-school" look can even modify the intensity of the grain filter. A field of view switcher and anisotropic texture filtering (1-16x) are also part of the repertoire. We are especially pleased that all changes can be adopted without a restart.

Unlock the benchmark
Unlock the benchmark
Review the results
Review the results

Benchmark

Alien: Isolation has a hidden benchmark function (did someone say Batman: Arkham Origins?) that can be activated by hand. Step 1: In Steam, right click to open the game's "Properties" menu. Step 2: Click on "Set Launch Options" and add the word -benchmark to the command line. Step 3: Confirm by clicking OK and start the game. A sequence lasting just under two minutes should follow.

Unfortunately, the results do not show automatically after the sequence is complete. In order to access them, the user has to rummage through the game folder (Steam\SteamApps\common\Alien Isolation) and open the newly created benchmark_xyz.csv file. The average frame rate is the third entry listed under "Summary" (highlighted in the above image).

Despite the game's rather leisurely tempo, we suggest at least 40 fps. Otherwise, the ego-shooter does not run 100% fluidly. The question remains: Why is the benchmark not directly accessible from the options menu? Did the developers create it for their own tests, or did they only implement it shortly before the release? Who knows...

Results

Looking over the performance results for both AMD and Nvidia cards graphics cards, there is no clear winner. The GPU experts' chips are more or less on par with each other. Thanks to the game's moderate hardware demands, an entry-level model suffices for low details and 1024x768 pixels. Both the HD Graphics 4600 and the Radeon HD 7660G managed more than 35 fps is our test. Medium settings, and 1366x768 pixels (all options except SSAO and anti-aliasing activated), on the other hand, require a midrange card. The GeForce GT 750M, for instance, averaged 51 fps.

For high details and 1920x1080 pixels, a little more graphics power is required. Only a GeForce GTX 850MGTX 765M or above can run this mix stutter-free. To enjoy the "Ultra" level, nothing beneath a high-end model - starting at a GeForce GTX 860M or GTX 770M - will fit the bill. In contrast to other titles, the processor hardly plays a role here. All aspects considered, Alien: Isolation's graphics are well-optimized for the PC. Thumbs up!

Alien: Isolation
    1920x1080 Ultra, On, Shadow Map 2048, HDAO AA:2x SM AF:16x     1920x1080 High, On, Shadow Map 1536, Standard SSAO AA:FX AF:8x     1366x768 Medium, On (AA & SSAO Off), Shadow Map 1024 AF:4x     1024x768 (Very) Low, Off, Shadow Map 512 AF:1x
GeForce GTX 780 Ti, 3770K
Desktop-PC
116.3 fps ∼50%
166.6 fps ∼56%
234.4 fps ∼76%
250.3 fps ∼76%
Radeon R9 290X, 2600K, Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256GB MZ7PD256HAFV-0Z000
Sapphire Tri-X R9 290X Desktop
108 fps ∼46%
131 fps ∼44%
160 fps ∼52%
179 fps ∼54%
Radeon R9 280X, 3770K
Desktop-PC
85.6 fps ∼37%
111.6 fps ∼37%
167 fps ∼54%
197.7 fps ∼60%
GeForce GTX 880M, 4700MQ
Schenker W504
68.9 fps ∼29%
101.2 fps ∼34%
178 fps ∼57%
207.3 fps ∼63%
GeForce GTX 760, 3770K
Desktop-PC
67.7 fps ∼29%
97.5 fps ∼33%
176.8 fps ∼57%
242.7 fps ∼73%
GeForce GTX 780M, 4700MQ
Schenker W503
64.5 fps ∼28%
95.4 fps ∼32%
167.9 fps ∼54%
193.2 fps ∼58%
Radeon R9 M290X, 4700MQ
Schenker W504
57.1 fps ∼24%
73.4 fps ∼25%
120.5 fps ∼39%
140.4 fps ∼42%
GeForce GTX 870M, 4700MQ
Schenker W504
55.9 fps ∼24%
77.9 fps ∼26%
145.7 fps ∼47%
205.9 fps ∼62%
GeForce GTX 750 Ti, 3770K
Desktop-PC
46.2 fps ∼20%
65 fps ∼22%
129 fps ∼42%
196.3 fps ∼59%
GeForce GTX 770M, 4700MQ
Schenker W503
42.8 fps ∼18%
62.4 fps ∼21%
116.8 fps ∼38%
167.3 fps ∼51%
GeForce GTX 860M, 4700MQ
Schenker W504
39.8 fps ∼17%
53.8 fps ∼18%
101.2 fps ∼33%
150.6 fps ∼45%
GeForce GTX 850M, 4340M
Schenker M504
33.7 fps ∼14%
47 fps ∼16%
93.8 fps ∼30%
141.4 fps ∼43%
GeForce GTX 765M, 4700MQ
Schenker W503
32.1 fps ∼14%
43.1 fps ∼14%
81.6 fps ∼26%
126.4 fps ∼38%
GeForce GT 750M, 4702MQ
Schenker M503
19.3 fps ∼8%
26.6 fps ∼9%
51.2 fps ∼17%
76.9 fps ∼23%
Radeon R7 512 Cores (Kaveri Desktop), A10-7850K, Samsung SSD 470 Series MZ-5PA256/EU
A10-7850K Asus A88-XM-PLUS
16.8 fps ∼7%
21.7 fps ∼7%
40 fps ∼13%
58 fps ∼18%
Iris Pro Graphics 5200, 4750HQ, Intel SSD 525 Series SSDMCEAC180B3
Schenker S413
16.4 fps ∼7%
24.6 fps ∼8%
47 fps ∼15%
69 fps ∼21%
GeForce GT 640M, 2637M, Lite-On LMT-256M3M
Acer Aspire M3-581TG
15.5 fps ∼7%
22.4 fps ∼8%
43.2 fps ∼14%
65 fps ∼20%
GeForce GT 740M, 4200M
HP Envy 15-j011sg
12 fps ∼5%
16.4 fps ∼6%
33 fps ∼11%
49.2 fps ∼15%
GeForce GT 720M, 4200M, WDC Scorpio Blue WD10JPVX-22JC3T0
MSI CX61-i572M
9.2 fps ∼4%
13.1 fps ∼4%
25.6 fps ∼8%
38.4 fps ∼12%
GeForce GT 630M, 3720QM, Seagate Momentus 7200.5 ST9750420AS
Asus N56VM
9.8 fps ∼4%
13.8 fps ∼5%
26.3 fps ∼8%
HD Graphics 4600, 4700MQ
Schenker W503
8.8 fps ∼4%
13.4 fps ∼4%
26 fps ∼8%
42 fps ∼13%
Radeon HD 8650G, A10-5750M, Samsung SSD 470 Series MZ-5PA256/EU
Pumori Test Platform (A10-5750M)
11.2 fps ∼5%
14.2 fps ∼5%
24.6 fps ∼8%
37.1 fps ∼11%
HD Graphics 4000, 3720QM
Asus N56VM
18.2 fps ∼6%
28.6 fps ∼9%
Discussion

Four of our test devices are courtesy of Schenker Technologies (mysn.de):

  • W504 (Core i7-4700MQ, 8 GB DDR3, GeForce GTX 860M, GTX 870M, GTX 880M, Radeon R9 M290X)
  • W503 (Core i7-4700MQ, 8 GB DDR3, GeForce GTX 765M, GTX 770M, GTX 780M)
  • M504 (Core i5-4340M, 8 GB DDR3, GeForce GTX 850M)
  • M503 (Core i7-4702MQ, 8 GB DDR3, GeForce GT 750M)

Windows 7 64-bit is installed on each other these notebooks. A further thank you goes to Micron for the 480 GB Crucial M500.

Another test device is courtesy of Nvidia:

  • HP Envy 15-j011sg (Core i5-4200M, 12 GB DDR3, GeForce GT 740M)

GPU drivers used: Nvidia 344.11, AMD 14.9, Intel 10.18.10.3907

Additionally, there are benchmarks from other notebooks, potentially with different drivers.

Overview

Show Restrictions
Pos      Model                                     Alien: Isolation
 Alien: Isolation (2014)
low
1024x768
(Very) Low, Off, Shadow Map 512
1xAF
med.
1366x768
Medium, On (AA & SSAO Off), Shadow Map 1024
4xAF
high
1920x1080
High, On, Shadow Map 1536, Standard SSAO
8xAF FXAA
ultra
1920x1080
Ultra, On, Shadow Map 2048, HDAO
16xAF 2x SMAA
 2NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 SLI (Laptop)
244
234
 3NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 SLI (Laptop)
199
190
 4NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 (Desktop)
298
221
 5NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 (Laptop)
270
229
 6NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 SLI (Laptop)
284.6
269.1
238.7
185.4
 7NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 (Desktop)
190.52
 8NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 (Laptop)
148
1472
139
 10NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M SLI
292.4
270.4
192.3
140.1
 11AMD Radeon R9 Fury
171
137
 12AMD Radeon R9 Nano
141
 13NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980
245.3
229.8
1353
114.23
 14NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 (Laptop)
272.552
252.82
188.652
135.552
 17NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M SLI
264.9
237.9
153
114.1
 18NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 (Desktop)
331
310
195
133
 19*NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 (Laptop)
163
115
 20AMD Radeon RX 480
151
122
 21NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti
250.3
234.4
166.6
116.3
 22NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970
291.6
272.1
160.5
112.9
 27AMD Radeon R9 290X
2172
185.52
138.52
111.52
Pos      Model                                     Alien: Isolation
lowmed.highultra
 34NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M
240.14
218.54
127.254
95.34
 36AMD Radeon R9 280X
197.7
167
111.6
85.6
 38NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960
275
217
113.3
80.9
 39NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti (Desktop)
84
 41NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M
2225
1995
107.556
75.086
 50AMD Radeon R9 M295X
131.852
89.3
70.12
58.72
 55AMD Radeon R7 370
201.9
142.33
78.11
59.25
 57NVIDIA GeForce GTX 880M
207.3
178
101.2
68.9
 58NVIDIA GeForce GTX 950
264.4
182.3
92.1
66
 61NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760
242.7
176.8
97.5
67.7
 62NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M
193.2
167.9
95.4
64.5
 63NVIDIA Quadro K5100M
205.1
143.4
79.8
54.8
 65AMD Radeon RX 460 (Desktop)
60.9
 67NVIDIA GeForce GTX 965M
194.63
149.73
77.13
58.254
 68NVIDIA GeForce GTX 870M
205.9
145.7
77.9
55.9
 69AMD Radeon R9 M290X
140.4
120.5
73.4
57.1
 82*AMD Radeon R9 M390
56
 83NVIDIA GeForce GTX 750 Ti
196.3
129
65
46.2
 87NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M
155.33
116.54
625
46.57
 93NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770M
167.3
116.8
62.4
42.8
Pos      Model                                     Alien: Isolation
lowmed.highultra
 94NVIDIA GeForce GTX 860M
127.852
97.552
54.552
40.12
 103NVIDIA GeForce GTX 950M
116.42
873
44.83
323
 106NVIDIA GeForce GTX 850M
123.52
87.72
45.252
31.92
 108AMD Radeon R9 M280X
37.3
25.8
19.2
 113NVIDIA GeForce 945M
130.2
85.9
43.7
30.2
 114NVIDIA GeForce GTX 765M
126.4
81.6
43.1
32.1
 136NVIDIA Quadro K3100M
134.9
91.1
48.3
32.6
 138AMD Radeon R9 M370X
100.3
59.7
35.6
28
 163NVIDIA GeForce 845M
68.5
33.8
27.4
 166AMD Radeon R9 M265X
80.7
53.7
22.1
17.6
 175NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M
76.9
51.2
26.6
19.3
 177NVIDIA GeForce 940MX
65.6
42.8
 178NVIDIA Quadro K1100M
72
47.3
24.6
16.8
 179NVIDIA GeForce 940M
63.852
44.652
22.72
17.4
 181AMD Radeon R9 M375
53.4
38.7
21.6
 188NVIDIA GeForce 840M
64.952
43.12
21.352
16.252
 189AMD Radeon R7 M275DX
60
46.4
28.7
21
 194AMD Radeon R7 512 Cores (Kaveri Desktop)
58
40
21.7
16.8
 195Intel Iris Pro Graphics 5200
69
47
24.6
16.4
 196AMD Radeon R7 384 Cores (Kaveri Desktop)
56
37
19.6
15.5
Pos      Model                                     Alien: Isolation
lowmed.highultra
 197NVIDIA GeForce GT 740M
49.2
33
16.4
12
 198NVIDIA GeForce 930M
63.53
41.83
21.23
15.7
 200NVIDIA GeForce 830M
60.3
41.3
20.7
14.8
 218AMD Radeon R7 M260X
55.8
37
20.2
15.7
 221*NVIDIA GeForce 920MX
58.9
38.8
19.9
 228AMD Radeon R7 M270
45.2
31
17
13.9
 229AMD Radeon R7 M265
33.6
28.3
17.6
13.8
 233NVIDIA GeForce GT 640M
65
43.2
22.4
15.5
 234AMD Radeon R7 (Kaveri)
41.122
27.92
17.252
14.7
 236*AMD Radeon R7 M460
50.1
37.6
18
14.7
 239AMD Radeon R7 M360
38.7
27.3
15.2
12.7
 244AMD Radeon R8 M445DX
51.6
42.7
28
 251AMD Radeon R7 M340
42.3
31.3
16.9
13.8
 252NVIDIA GeForce 920M
45.52
29.32
14.72
9.152
 254Intel HD Graphics 530
48.82
31.12
15.252
10.6
 257AMD Radeon R7 M260
25.73
18.53
11.082
7.5
 260AMD Radeon R6 (Carrizo)
35.6
21.9
 291Intel HD Graphics 5600
45.3
28.3
14.4
10.5
 297AMD Radeon HD 8670M
30.9
21.3
 298AMD Radeon R6 M255DX
30.7
20.3
11.6
8.9
Pos      Model                                     Alien: Isolation
lowmed.highultra
 317AMD Radeon HD 8650G
37.1
24.6
14.2
11.2
 322NVIDIA GeForce GT 630M
26.3
13.8
9.8
 325AMD Radeon R5 M335
31.6
22.1
12.1
8.3
 327AMD Radeon R5 M330
26.2
15.1
9.5
 328AMD Radeon R5 M255
27.5
21.5
13.5
 331NVIDIA GeForce 820M
41.152
27.352
14.4
 332Intel HD Graphics 520
39.252
24.12
 333Intel Iris Graphics 6100
36.152
26.552
15.652
11.3
 334NVIDIA GeForce GT 720M
38.4
25.6
13.1
9.2
 336AMD Radeon R5 M240
32.052
22.152
12.1
 338AMD Radeon R5 M230
27.4
18.6
9.8
 345Intel HD Graphics 6000
34
26.41
 348Intel Iris Graphics 5100
27.12
20.552
11.652
 353Intel HD Graphics 4600
35.852
22.752
11.652
7.82
 355Intel HD Graphics 5500
31.424
21.764
11.23
8.33
 357*Intel HD Graphics 615
26.3
19
9.7
 359AMD Radeon R5 (Kaveri)
21.3
14.2
 363AMD Radeon HD 7660G
36
24.7
13.5
11
 366Intel HD Graphics 5000
28.9
20.9
11.4
 399Intel HD Graphics 4400
29.33
18.53
10.42
Pos      Model                                     Alien: Isolation
lowmed.highultra
 429Intel HD Graphics 5300
20.13
13.93
7.63
4.63
 430*Intel HD Graphics 505
18.3
14.1
 439Intel HD Graphics 4000
28.6
18.2
 447AMD Radeon R5 (Beema/Carrizo-L)
202
12.752
 448AMD Radeon R4 (Beema)
21.9
14.5
 450Intel HD Graphics 4200
12.9
9
5.1
 475AMD Radeon HD 8350G
24.9
15.2
 476AMD Radeon HD 8330
16.7
10.3
 479AMD Radeon R3 (Mullins/Beema)
19.9
12.3
 497Intel HD Graphics (Braswell)
13.7
8.8
 507Intel HD Graphics (Haswell)
21.6
12.9
 608Intel HD Graphics (Bay Trail)
9.1
5.1