Notebookcheck

Assassin's Creed Unity Benchmarked

Florian Glaser (translated by Bernie Pechlaner), 11/23/2014

Fun or an imposition? Assassin's Creed Unity is yet another entry in the never-ending list of unfinished games. High demands on the hardware combined with technical bugs are a constant source of aggravation. We'll try to determine just how powerful a notebook has to be to handle this game.

Assassin's Creed Unity Logo

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Graphics

Visually, Assassin's Creed Unity is definitely one of the best-looking titles for PCs we have come across in recent years. While some FPS games like Crysis 3, Battlefield 4 or Metro: Last Light have textures that are sharper still, Unity does look impressive for a third-person shooter game. One of the positive aspects is the richness of the details, as hardly any other current game is based on such an affectionately constructed and believable world. In almost any corner, there are nice decorative items (plants, furniture, etc.). Really impressive, for example, is the population density of virtual Paris. Because of all the fellow citizens, it never feels like you are stuck in a sterile "quarantine zone", which is an issue with some games. The visibility range of the new offshoot, combined with the freedom of movement inherent to the series, makes for a very satisfying ambiance.

Assassin's Creed Unity
Assassin's Creed Unity
Assassin's Creed Unity
Assassin's Creed Unity
Assassin's Creed Unity
Assassin's Creed Unity

Unfortunately, the game is still plagued by technical issues which mar the overall experience. One of the main problems, in our opinion, are the demands on the hardware. Even the official requirements allude to the fact that Assassin's Creed Unity needs plenty of CPU and GPU power:  according to Ubisoft, it should be a potent quad-core CPU and a high-end GPU alongside 6-8 GB of RAM, 40 GB of hard drive space and 64-bit Windows with DirectX 11 support.

From a technical standpoint, it's an "all clear" for Intel CPUs: as long as the notebook in question contains at least a dual-core or quad-core processor with Turbo Boost and Hyper-Threading, the GPU and not the CPU is the limiting factor. A main point of criticism: Unity just doesn't seem like it's been optimized well. Even with a top-of-the-line GPU, the frame rates sometimes unexpectedly (and inexplicably) drop and game play stutters as a result. The performance, of course, depends on many factors: depending on the time of day (light and shadows), the toll on the GPU varies greatly. We were unable to achieve more than 100 fps, no matter which graphics card we tried.

At this time, AMD-equipped notebooks - see Assassin's Creed III – are heavily disadvantaged. Even in version 1.2.0 of the game, equivalent Nvidia GPUs are simply faster, especially at moderate settings (example: R9 M290X vs. GTX 870M). Not really surprising, given the fact that Unity was co-developed by Nvidia. The game does have a few interesting features like HBAO+ (ambient occlusion), PCSS+ (soft shadows) and TXAA (anti-aliasing), which also partially work with "foreign" hardware.

Assassin's Creed Unity
Assassin's Creed Unity
Assassin's Creed Unity
Assassin's Creed Unity
Assassin's Creed Unity
Assassin's Creed Unity

Let's revisit the performance one more time: Ubisoft is supposedly working on patches which will address the hardware requirements. This of course would mean that future benchmark results are not going to be comparable to our results here. We hope that Ubisoft will also fix the stability issues at the same time, since Unity crashed every once in a while on a few of our test systems.

The graphics menu, on the other hand, is without faults. Even though there are only a handful of options in the »Advanced« section, these options do have a profound effect on the quality. For our benchmarks we use the presets »Low«, »Medium«, »High« and »Ultra High«, which all require a restart of the game. A tip for those who don't like to play at the native resolution, but find that the game won't use the entire desktop: in this case, switching to windowed mode and then back to full screen rectifies the situation. Game load times are a mixed bag: the main menu takes a while to appear, but during the game play itself  we didn't experience any significant delays.

Assassin's Creed Unity
Assassin's Creed Unity
Assassin's Creed Unity
Assassin's Creed Unity
Assassin's Creed Unity
Assassin's Creed Unity

Benchmark

To determine the frame rate, we use our own benchmark sequence. After the main character gets his watch back following a chase conducted at breakneck speeds, we are able to freely wander around Paris for the first time. Not just because of the sheer number of characters, the 50-second run through the city (see the video) is pretty demanding, although some scenes require even more processing power.

Results

To get the most out of Assassin's Creed Unity, an absolute high-end system is required. None of the notebook systems we tested with allowed for a stutter-free game play when we used a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels, ultra-high details and 4x MSAA. It will probably take a GeForce GTX 970M or GTX 980M to achieve frame rates above 25 fps. A resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels with the settings on »High« (2x MSAA) is still quite demanding - we would recommend at least a GeForce GTX 870M or the GTX 780M.NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M

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

A true gaming notebook is required even for medium details and a resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels, as it takes at least a GeForce GTX 850M or GTX 765M to approach 30 fps. Owners of less powerful multimeda notebooks have to choose the preset »Low«. Graphics cards under the level of a GT 750M are simply not usable at all at any of the settings. Once Ubisoft has done some work optimizing the game, we expect Unity to run even on more entry-level notebooks.

Discussion
Assassin's Creed Unity
    1024x768 Low Graphics Quality     1366x768 Medium Graphics Quality AA:FX     1920x1080 High Graphics Quality AA:2x MS     1920x1080 Ultra High Graphics Quality AA:4x MS
GeForce GTX 980, 3770K
Desktop-PC
78.4 (min: 67) fps ∼55%
70 (min: 60) fps ∼60%
52.8 (min: 46) fps ∼63%
43.6 (min: 39) fps ∼79%
Radeon R9 290X, 4790K, Intel SSD 530 Series SSDSC2BW240A
Desktop PC
68 (min: 55) fps ∼48%
67 (min: 53) fps ∼58%
46 (min: 40) fps ∼55%
31.9 (min: 28) fps ∼58%
GeForce GTX 880M, 4700MQ
Schenker W504
70.3 (min: 60) fps ∼50%
58.3 (min: 51) fps ∼50%
32.2 (min: 28) fps ∼39%
23.9 (min: 21) fps ∼43%
Radeon R9 280X, 3770K
Desktop-PC
49.3 (min: 36) fps ∼35%
43.6 (min: 32) fps ∼38%
31.3 (min: 23) fps ∼37%
23.8 (min: 18) fps ∼43%
GeForce GTX 780M, 4700MQ
Schenker W503
65.7 (min: 54) fps ∼46%
52.5 (min: 44) fps ∼45%
28.4 (min: 24) fps ∼34%
21.1 (min: 18) fps ∼38%
GeForce GTX 870M, 4700MQ
Schenker W504
64.4 (min: 56) fps ∼45%
51.3 (min: 46) fps ∼44%
26.2 (min: 23) fps ∼31%
18.8 (min: 16) fps ∼34%
Radeon R9 M290X, 4700MQ
Schenker W504
44.7 (min: 35) fps ∼31%
39 (min: 32) fps ∼34%
24.4 (min: 20) fps ∼29%
18.1 (min: 15) fps ∼33%
GeForce GTX 770M, 4700MQ
Schenker W503
48.8 (min: 42) fps ∼34%
36.1 (min: 31) fps ∼31%
19.1 (min: 16) fps ∼23%
14.3 (min: 9) fps ∼26%
GeForce GTX 860M, 4700MQ
Schenker W504
50.1 (min: 42) fps ∼35%
36.2 (min: 32) fps ∼31%
18.3 (min: 15) fps ∼22%
13.1 (min: 11) fps ∼24%
GeForce GTX 850M, 4340M
Schenker M504
44.7 (min: 39) fps ∼31%
31.1 (min: 28) fps ∼27%
15 (min: 11) fps ∼18%
9.6 (min: 7) fps ∼17%
GeForce GTX 765M, 4700MQ
Schenker W503
41.8 (min: 36) fps ∼29%
28.8 (min: 24) fps ∼25%
14.4 (min: 12) fps ∼17%
8.8 (min: 4) fps ∼16%
GeForce GT 750M, 4702MQ
Schenker M503
27.4 (min: 23) fps ∼19%
19.4 (min: 17) fps ∼17%
8.7 (min: 7) fps ∼10%
5.7 (min: 4) fps ∼10%
Radeon R7 512 Cores (Kaveri Desktop), A10-7850K, Samsung SSD 470 Series MZ-5PA256/EU
A10-7850K Asus A88-XM-PLUS
24.3 (min: 19) fps ∼17%
16.9 (min: 14) fps ∼15%
GeForce GT 740M, 4200M
HP Envy 15-j011sg
20.1 (min: 17) fps ∼14%
13.4 (min: 12) fps ∼12%
5.8 (min: 4) fps ∼7%
3.9 (min: 2) fps ∼7%
GeForce GT 640M, 2637M, Lite-On LMT-256M3M
Acer Aspire M3-581TG
9.1 (min: 4) fps ∼6%
GeForce GT 720M, 4200M, WDC Scorpio Blue WD10JPVX-22JC3T0
MSI CX61-i572M
14.3 fps ∼10%
10.1 fps ∼9%
HD Graphics 4600, 4700MQ
Schenker W503
8.5 (min: 6) fps ∼6%
5.4 (min: 2) fps ∼5%
Iris Pro Graphics 5200, 4750HQ, Intel SSD 525 Series SSDMCEAC180B3
Schenker S413
8 (min: 4) fps ∼6%
Radeon HD 8650G, A10-5750M, Samsung SSD 470 Series MZ-5PA256/EU
Pumori Test Platform (A10-5750M)
14.2 (min: 10) fps ∼10%
GeForce GT 630M, 3720QM, Seagate Momentus 7200.5 ST9750420AS
Asus N56VM
11.6 (min: 3) fps ∼8%

Test Systems

Four of our review notebooks are courtesy of Schenker Technologies:

  • 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)

All these notebooks feature Windows 7 64-bit.

Nvidia supplied the following systems:

One notebook is courtesy of Intel:

  • Schenker S413 (Core i7-4750HQ, 8 GB DDR3, Iris Pro Graphics 5200)

The desktop systems come with CPUs/APUs from Intel and AMD,  Micron, Intel, and Samsung SSDs, motherboards from Intel and Asus, as well as GPUs from Nvidia and AMD.

GPU drivers: Nvidia 344.65, AMD 14.11.1 Beta, Intel 10.18.10.3960

Overview

Show Restrictions
Pos      Model                                     Assassin's Creed Unity
 Assassin's Creed Unity (2014)
low
1024x768
Low Graphics Quality
med.
1366x768
Medium Graphics Quality
FXAA
high
1920x1080
High Graphics Quality
2x MSAA
ultra
1920x1080
Ultra High Graphics Quality
4x MSAA
 5NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M SLI
104.1
95.9
74.8
55.2
 7NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980
78.4
70
51.94
38.84
 8NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 (Notebook)
140.72
115.552
792
43.052
 11NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M SLI
117.1
110.5
83.6
46
 16AMD Radeon R9 290X
68
67
46
31.9
 23NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M
773
63.33
42.13
30.854
 25AMD Radeon R9 280X
49.3
43.6
31.3
23.8
 27NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960
97.1
75.8
47.4
21.3
 28NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M
67.12
55.52
38.44
22.84
 37AMD Radeon R9 M295X
35.1
32.7
26.6
15.6
 41AMD Radeon R7 370
73.45
55.65
28.28
19.47
 43NVIDIA GeForce GTX 880M
70.3
58.3
32.2
23.9
 44NVIDIA GeForce GTX 950
99.8
68.3
41.2
18
 48NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M
65.7
52.5
28.4
21.1
 49NVIDIA Quadro K5100M
58.1
42.6
28.8
16.2
 52NVIDIA GeForce GTX 965M
27.452
21.22
14.752
13.73
 54NVIDIA GeForce GTX 870M
64.4
51.3
26.2
18.8
 55AMD Radeon R9 M290X
44.7
39
24.4
18.1
 70NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M
50.83
39.23
26.13
11.33
Pos      Model                                     Assassin's Creed Unity
lowmed.highultra
 74NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770M
48.8
36.1
19.1
14.3
 75NVIDIA GeForce GTX 860M
40.952
32.62
19.752
10.252
 83NVIDIA GeForce GTX 950M
44.052
30.62
16.052
8.4
 84NVIDIA GeForce GTX 850M
41.83
31.13
17.23
9.63
 86AMD Radeon R9 M280X
22.7
20.6
14.7
 91NVIDIA GeForce 945M
44.8
30.1
18.1
12.4
 92NVIDIA GeForce GTX 765M
41.8
28.8
14.4
8.8
 114NVIDIA Quadro K3100M
38.9
27.5
18.3
10.1
 144AMD Radeon R9 M265X
30.1
21
11.4
 155NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M
27.4
19.4
8.7
5.7
 157NVIDIA Quadro K1100M
21.4
14.7
9.1
4.8
 158NVIDIA GeForce 940M
28.33
17.33
11
7.8
 159AMD Radeon R9 M375
28.5
 166NVIDIA GeForce 840M
26.92
182
9.32
5.7
 171AMD Radeon R7 512 Cores (Kaveri Desktop)
24.3
16.9
 172Intel Iris Pro Graphics 5200
8
 175NVIDIA GeForce GT 740M
20.1
13.4
5.8
3.9
 176NVIDIA GeForce 930M
24.452
 178NVIDIA GeForce 830M
24.7
15.9
9.6
3.1
 195AMD Radeon R7 M260X
11.7
8.7
Pos      Model                                     Assassin's Creed Unity
lowmed.highultra
 206AMD Radeon R7 M265
17.3
12.9
8
 210NVIDIA GeForce GT 640M
9.1
 216AMD Radeon R7 M360
20
13.3
8.1
5.4
 226NVIDIA GeForce 920M
19.5
12.6
6.1
3.9
 231AMD Radeon R7 M260
19.2
12
7.8
 289AMD Radeon HD 8650G
14.2
 294NVIDIA GeForce GT 630M
11.6
 299AMD Radeon R5 M330
16.5
10.8
 300AMD Radeon R5 M255
8.3
6.1
 302NVIDIA GeForce 820M
15.1
9.7
 305NVIDIA GeForce GT 720M
14.3
10.1
 307AMD Radeon R5 M240
18.2
12
 323Intel HD Graphics 4600
7.752
52
 325Intel HD Graphics 5500
8.42
6.052
3.052
1.1
 334Intel HD Graphics 5000
5.4
 367Intel HD Graphics 4400
6.32
3.9
 406Intel HD Graphics 4000
3
 413AMD Radeon R4 (Beema)
7.1
4.6
 414Intel HD Graphics 4200
3.3
 443AMD Radeon R3 (Mullins/Beema)
8
5.3
Pos      Model                                     Assassin's Creed Unity
lowmed.highultra
 569Intel HD Graphics (Bay Trail)
4.3
2.4
* 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 Unity Benchmarked
Florian Glaser, 2014-11-23 (Update: 2014-11-23)