Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag Benchmarked

Florian Glaser (translated by Andreas Osthoff), 11/27/2013

A paradise for pirates. Ubisoft offers a new scenario for the holiday season with Assassin's Creed IV. We analyzed the performance and show you what GPU you need to raise the black flag.

Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag

For the original German article, see here.

Graphics

Assassin's Creed IV is a very good title in regard to the graphics. Compared to other action titles Black Flag has a very high texture quality and both the water and light effects fulfill the expectations of a title from 2013. We are especially impressed by the high level of detail, which has been noticeably raised for Black Flag. The in-house AnvilNext engine, which - in a different form - was also used for Assassin's Creed III, creates a rich flora on the screen. The first level takes place on an idyllic island and is a tutorial at the same time. It reminds us of the current Tomb Raider in terms of graphics and level of detail. 

Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag

But there is also criticism with Black Flag. Some objects just pop up without a soft transition. It is rather absurd when other characters just appear out of nothing and suddenly disappear again. Ubisoft should put some work into this and the somewhat awkward (facial) animations. Some more pixels here and there would have been nice as well.

We want to praise the clear layout of the graphics settings that are always accessible; you can even change all the settings without a restart. There are numerous technical features like volumetric fog, ambient occlusion (SSAO or HBAO+) and the so-called god rays. While you can just activate or deactivate some options, you can choose between (Very) Low up to (Very) High when it comes to the quality settings. The developer deserves credit for the high number of anti-aliasing modes. Besides the less complex post-FX versions SMAA and FXAA you can also use the more demanding MSAA, EQAA (AMD) and CSAA or TXAA (Nvidia) respectively. 

Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag

One reason for AMD's slight disadvantage compared to its main rival is that Black Flag is a member of Nvidia's TWIMTBP program. We can also see a negative impact on the performance from the Enduro technology with AMD notebooks (compare HD 8970M and GTX 680M, for instance). We did not determine any serious technical issues during the benchmarks; we only encountered graphical issues with Intel GPUs in some settings (probably a problem with the driver).

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

Benchmark

Looking at the hardware requirements we can see that the benchmark is on an average level. There are certainly less demanding and also more complex levels in the game. We use the tool Fraps to record a one minute run through Havana (from the docks to the center of the town and back, see video). An average result of 30 fps or more indicates playable settings.

Results

Black Flag is hardly playable with Intel GPUs like the 4000 or 4600. The frame rate does not reach 25 fps, even with the lowest settings and 1024x768 pixels. The AMD Radeon HD 7660G and slow low-end GPUs like the GeForce GT 630M are basically insufficient for Assassin's Creed IV as well. Normal details and 1366x768 pixels require at least a mainstream GPU like the GeForce GT 640M.

Are high settings and anti-aliasing important to you? Then you should at least have a notebook with a high-end GPU like the GeForce GTX 670MX or GTX 765M. Only the GeForce GTX 780M is currently powerful enough for a combination of 1920x1080 pixels, maximum details, HBAO+ and 4x MSAA (we do not look at dual GPU solutions at this point).

The hardware requirements are quite high, but still reasonable when you consider the visual quality. By the way, more than 60 fps are not displayed, even with deactivated VSync.

Assassin´s Creed IV: Black Flag
    1024x768 (Very) Low / Off     1366x768 Normal / Off     1366x768 High / On / SSAO (PhysX Off) AA:2x MS     1920x1080 (Very) High / On / HBAO+ (PhysX off) AA:4x MS
HD Graphics 4000, 3610QM
Schenker XMG P502
23.6 fps ∼29%
17.4 fps ∼28%
7.4 fps ∼12%
3.6 fps ∼8%
Radeon HD 7660G, A10-4600M, Samsung SSD 830 Series MZ-7PC0128D/EU
AMD Pumori Platform A10-4600M
25 (min: 16) fps ∼31%
20.5 (min: 14) fps ∼33%
10.7 (min: 8) fps ∼17%
4.4 (min: 1) fps ∼10%
HD Graphics 4600, 4702MQ
Schenker M503
24.8 fps ∼31%
18.4 fps ∼30%
8.9 fps ∼14%
4.7 fps ∼11%
GeForce GT 630M, 3720QM
Asus N56VM
23.8 (min: 17) fps ∼29%
18.1 (min: 13) fps ∼29%
10.6 (min: 8) fps ∼17%
5.2 (min: 4) fps ∼12%
Iris Pro Graphics 5200, 4750HQ, Intel SSD 525 Series SSDMCEAC180B3
Schenker S413
35.8 (min: 25) fps ∼44%
28.5 (min: 21) fps ∼46%
14.8 (min: 12) fps ∼24%
7.5 (min: 6) fps ∼17%
GeForce GT 640M, 2637M, Lite-On LMT-256M3M
Acer Aspire M3-581TG
40.3 (min: 26) fps ∼50%
32.1 (min: 26) fps ∼52%
18.5 (min: 16) fps ∼30%
9.5 (min: 6) fps ∼22%
GeForce GT 750M, 4702MQ
Schenker M503
51.9 fps ∼64%
38.1 fps ∼62%
23.4 fps ∼38%
10.8 fps ∼25%
GeForce GTX 660M, 3610QM
Schenker XMG P502
57.2 fps ∼70%
45.3 fps ∼73%
26.4 fps ∼43%
13.6 fps ∼32%
GeForce GTX 670MX, 3610QM
Schenker XMG P502
61 fps ∼75%
50.2 fps ∼81%
31.8 fps ∼52%
16.3 fps ∼38%
GeForce GTX 765M, 4700MQ
Schenker W503
61.7 fps ∼76%
58.8 fps ∼95%
35.4 fps ∼57%
18.4 fps ∼43%
GeForce GTX 675MX, 3610QM
Schenker XMG P502
61.4 fps ∼76%
59.4 fps ∼96%
39.8 fps ∼65%
21 fps ∼49%
GeForce GTX 770M, 4700MQ
Schenker W503
61.7 fps ∼76%
61.4 fps ∼99%
44 fps ∼71%
24.9 fps ∼58%
GeForce GTX 680M, 3610QM
Schenker XMG P502
61.5 fps ∼76%
60.6 fps ∼98%
47.2 fps ∼76%
26.2 fps ∼61%
Radeon HD 7970M, 3610QM
Schenker XMG P502
44.6 fps ∼55%
42.4 fps ∼69%
40.9 fps ∼66%
26.7 fps ∼62%
Radeon HD 8970M, 4700MQ
Schenker W503
49.7 fps ∼61%
46.8 fps ∼76%
45 fps ∼73%
27.7 fps ∼64%
GeForce GTX 780M, 4700MQ
Schenker W503
62 fps ∼76%
61.6 fps ∼100%
58.3 fps ∼94%
35.6 fps ∼83%
GeForce GTX 660 Ti, 3770K
Desktop-PC
62.1 fps ∼76%
61.8 fps ∼100%
61.2 fps ∼99%
37.3 fps ∼87%
Radeon R9 280X, 3770K
Desktop-PC
61.7 fps ∼76%
61.7 fps ∼100%
61.7 fps ∼100%
42.8 fps ∼99%
GeForce GTX 680, 2600K, Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256GB MZ7PD256HAFV-0Z000
Desktop GTX 680, Intel Core i7-2600K
61 (min: 48) fps ∼75%
59.8 (min: 46) fps ∼97%
58.9 (min: 44) fps ∼95%
43.1 (min: 34) fps ∼100%

Verdict

Assassin's Creed IV is perfect for cold winter evenings. Thanks to the good graphics you will quickly feel at home in the virtual Caribbean. You do, however, need powerful hardware; many options cannot be used without a good GPU and you will have to live with many dropped frames. 

Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag

Test Systems

Our three most important test devices are courtesy of Schenker Technologies (mysn.de):

  • W503 (Core i7-4700MQ, 8 GB DDR3, GeForce GTX 765M, GTX 770M, GTX 780M, Radeon HD 8970M & HD Graphics 4600)
  • M503 (Core i7-4702MQ, 8 GB DDR3, GeForce GT 750M & HD Graphics 4600)
  • XMG P502 (Core i7-3610QM, 8 GB DDR3, GeForce GTX 660M, GTX 670MX, GTX 675MX, GTX 680M, Radeon HD 7970M & HD Graphics 4000)

A further thank you goes to Micron for providing the 480 GB Crucial M500, on which Windows 7 Professional 64-bit is installed.

GPU drivers used: Nvidia 331.82 WHQL, AMD 13.11 Beta 9.2, Intel 10.18.10.3345

From left to right: Schenker M503, XMG P502 & W503
From left to right: Schenker M503, XMG P502 & W503

Overview

Show Restrictions
Pos      Model                                     Assassin´s Creed IV: Black Flag
 Assassin´s Creed IV: Black Flag (2013)
low
1024x768
(Very) Low / Off
med.
1366x768
Normal / Off
high
1366x768
High / On / SSAO (PhysX Off)
2x MSAA
ultra
1920x1080
(Very) High / On / HBAO+ (PhysX off)
4x MSAA
 9AMD Radeon R9 280X
61.7
61.7
61.7
42.8
 11NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680
61
59.8
58.9
43.1
 16NVIDIA GeForce GTX 880M
62
59
57
35
 17NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 Ti
62.1
61.8
61.2
37.3
 19NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M
62
61.6
58.3
35.6
 23NVIDIA GeForce GTX 870M
59.6
58.5
53.5
31.1
 25AMD Radeon HD 8970M
49.7
46.8
45
27.7
 29NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680M
61.5
60.6
47.2
26.2
 32AMD Radeon HD 7970M
44.6
42.4
40.9
26.7
 38NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770M
61.7
61.4
44
24.9
 42NVIDIA GeForce GT 755M SLI
53.9
48.7
29.7
 47NVIDIA GeForce GTX 675MX
61.4
59.4
39.8
21
 49NVIDIA GeForce GTX 850M
73.552
47.23
33.13
18.43
 54NVIDIA GeForce GTX 765M
61.7
58.8
35.4
18.4
 72NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670MX
61
50.2
31.8
16.3
 74NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760M
57.1
50.5
32
16.4
 80AMD Radeon HD 8870M
25.3
23.6
19.1
10.7
 92NVIDIA GeForce GT 755M
42
26.9
14.4
 94NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660M
57.2
45.3
26.4
13.6
Pos      Model                                     Assassin´s Creed IV: Black Flag
lowmed.highultra
 105NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M
51.9
38.1
23.4
10.8
 107NVIDIA GeForce 840M
40.52
31.052
17.32
7.9
 112AMD Radeon R7 in A10-7850K APU (Kaveri)
42.6
33.3
18.4
7.7
 113Intel Iris Pro Graphics 5200
35.8
28.5
14.8
7.5
 114AMD Radeon R7 in A10-7700K APU (Kaveri)
42.2
34.2
18.3
7.7
 116NVIDIA GeForce GT 740M
37.552
28.352
152
6.2
 122NVIDIA GeForce 825M
37.6
29.2
15.4
 134NVIDIA GeForce GT 730M
33.3
23.7
13.3
 140AMD Radeon R7 M265
18.162
14.182
9.3
4.2
 145NVIDIA GeForce GT 640M
40.3
32.1
18.5
9.5
 166AMD Radeon HD 8670D
39.4
31.5
16.7
6.6
 189AMD Radeon HD 8570D
34.8
25.4
12.8
 195AMD Radeon HD 7660D
33.6
24.7
13.8
 213AMD Radeon HD 8650G
26.8
20.2
10.7
5.1
 218NVIDIA GeForce GT 630M
23.8
18.1
10.6
5.2
 223NVIDIA GeForce 820M
28.2
21.7
11.6
 227Intel Iris Graphics 5100
24
17.5
8.9
4.4
 239Intel HD Graphics 4600
24.8
18.4
8.9
4.7
 244AMD Radeon HD 7660G
25
20.5
10.7
4.4
 264AMD Radeon HD 8550G
27.5
22.5
11.3
Pos      Model                                     Assassin´s Creed IV: Black Flag
lowmed.highultra
 276Intel HD Graphics 4400
21.82
15.252
12.8
6.4
 312AMD Radeon HD 7480D
19.4
15.5
 313Intel HD Graphics 4000
23.6
17.4
7.4
3.6
 316AMD Radeon R5 (Beema)
16.2
12.3
10.1
4.3
 326AMD Radeon HD 8450G
20
16.8
 330AMD Radeon HD 8400
16.5
11.7
 342AMD Radeon HD 8330
11.9
 404Intel HD Graphics 3000
9.2
* Smaller values are better. / * Approximate position

 

Legend
5Stutters – This game is very likely to stutter and have poor frame rates. Based on all known benchmarks using the specified graphical settings, average frame rates are expected to fall below 25fps
May Stutter – This graphics card has not been explicitly tested on this game. Based on interpolated information from surrounding graphics cards of similar performance levels, stutters and poor frame rates are expected.
30Fluent – Based on all known benchmarks using the specified graphical settings, this game should run at or above 25fps
40Fluent – Based on all known benchmarks using the specified graphical settings, this game should run at or above 35fps
May Run Fluently – This graphics card has not been explicitly tested on this game. Based on interpolated information from surrounding graphics cards of similar performance levels, fluent frame rates are expected.
123Uncertain – This graphics card experienced unexpected performance issues during testing for this game. A slower card may be able to achieve better and more consistent frame rates than this particular GPU running the same benchmark scene.
Uncertain – This graphics card has not been explicitly tested on this game and no reliable interpolation can be made based on the performances of surrounding cards of the same class or family.
The value in the fields displays the average frame rate of all values in the database. Move your cursor over the value to see individual results.

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag Benchmarked
Author: Florian Glaser, 2013-11-27 (Update: 2013-12- 2)