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

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
 24AMD Radeon HD 8970M
49.7
46.8
45
27.7
 25NVIDIA GeForce GTX 870M
59.6
58.5
53.5
31.1
 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
65.8
46.252
32.952
17.92
 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
 93NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660M
57.2
45.3
26.4
13.6
Pos      Model                                     Assassin´s Creed IV: Black Flag
lowmed.highultra
 104NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M
51.9
38.1
23.4
10.8
 106NVIDIA GeForce 840M
40.52
31.052
17.32
7.9
 111AMD Radeon R7 in A10-7850K APU (Kaveri)
42.6
33.3
18.4
7.7
 112Intel Iris Pro Graphics 5200
35.8
28.5
14.8
7.5
 113AMD Radeon R7 in A10-7700K APU (Kaveri)
42.2
34.2
18.3
7.7
 115NVIDIA GeForce GT 740M
37.552
28.352
152
6.2
 121NVIDIA GeForce 825M
37.6
29.2
15.4
 133NVIDIA GeForce GT 730M
33.3
23.7
13.3
 139AMD Radeon R7 M265
18.162
14.182
9.3
4.2
 143NVIDIA GeForce GT 640M
40.3
32.1
18.5
9.5
 162AMD Radeon HD 8670D
39.4
31.5
16.7
6.6
 184AMD Radeon HD 8570D
34.8
25.4
12.8
 190AMD Radeon HD 7660D
33.6
24.7
13.8
 208AMD Radeon HD 8650G
26.8
20.2
10.7
5.1
 213NVIDIA GeForce GT 630M
23.8
18.1
10.6
5.2
 218NVIDIA GeForce 820M
28.2
21.7
11.6
 222Intel Iris Graphics 5100
24
17.5
8.9
4.4
 234Intel HD Graphics 4600
24.8
18.4
8.9
4.7
 239AMD Radeon HD 7660G
25
20.5
10.7
4.4
 258AMD Radeon HD 8550G
27.5
22.5
11.3
Pos      Model                                     Assassin´s Creed IV: Black Flag
lowmed.highultra
 270Intel HD Graphics 4400
21.82
15.252
12.8
6.4
 306AMD Radeon HD 7480D
19.4
15.5
 307Intel HD Graphics 4000
23.6
17.4
7.4
3.6
 310AMD Radeon R5 (Beema)
16.2
12.3
10.1
4.3
 320AMD Radeon HD 8450G
20
16.8
 324AMD Radeon HD 8400
16.5
11.7
 336AMD Radeon HD 8330
11.9
 398Intel 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)