Notebookcheck

BioShock Infinite Benchmarked

Florian Glaser (translated by Markus Döpfert), 03/29/2013

A heavenly delight. BioShock is definitely a top-class shooter. No matter if the topic is the game world, handling, sound or story: This action hit leaves most of its competitors behind. We examine among other things the hardware requirements of this exceptional title. Find out if a weaker graphics card may suffice.

BioShock Infinite Logo

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Description

For the original German review, see here.

"Freedom must be limitless above the clouds." These lyrics by the German artist Reinhard Mey come relatively close to the current work of Irrational Games, but are not quite correct. On the one hand BioShock Infinite is set inside the clouds rather than above, and on the other hand the freedom does not go as far as some fans would have wished for. Wait a second, inside the clouds? For everyone who has culpably ignored this action title so far: In BioShock Infinite we embody the Pinkerton agent Booker DeWitt who sets forth for the cloud city Columbia in 1912 to rescue the mysterious Elizabeth. It is no surprise to shooter experts that this job is no picnic and the path is paved with danger.

Just like in the first BioShock, the game starts in a light house. But this is the only similarity between the two games concerning atmosphere. Unlike the first BioShock, BioShock Infinite unfolds a picturesque idyll at the beginning of the game. However this misleads extremely. The "steampunk-like" cloud empire is dominated by a man named Comstock. The ubiquitous propaganda posters praise Comstock as prophet and religious leader. Attentive players will notice quickly that not everything runs smoothly behind the curtains because, just as in reality, there are some citizens who exaggerate with their faith and piousness. Differently put: Columbia is ruled by racism and fanaticism. It is no surprise that the main character soon spoils things with the citizens and heads for a confrontation.

This brings us to the main part of this action representative: the fights. In comparison to its predecessors, the developer has pepped up the gunfights significantly. Weapons, shooting sounds, and hit feedback do not have to shy away from other ego-shooters. The players who have already played parts of the BioShock series will quickly get comfortable with the underlying mechanics. Despite of diverse renaming (e.g. the magic skills, which you achieve along your way, are now called vigors instead of plasmids) nearly every familiar element is easy to find.

Irrational Games has even installed a few innovations. Articles of clothing, which are mostly well hidden in the levels, give Booker DeWitt several extras. Needless to say weapons and special capabilities are upgradable as well. Additionally, every few meters you are illuminated by a vending machine. There you can buy vital energy, salt (the mana of BioShock Infinite), and ammunition for hard cash.

Speaking of cash: Besides money, countless snacks like chocolate bars and fruit are distributed all over the magnificent surrounding (they affect the vital energy or the mana stock). For our taste though the developer has overdone it with the collectable objects again because if there is one thing missing in BioShock it is difficulty. As a halfway experienced gamer you will rarely get into trouble on the normal level of difficulty. Thanks to the vigors and the sumptuous ammunition and health supply even larger groups of enemies should not present themselves as a problem. The average AI, which often shows drop outs, does not help to increase the difficulty. Many times we could shoot ourselves thoughtlessly and without any tactics through the varied areas. In a word: The character is a little bit too powerful.

"Powerful" also fits for the atmosphere of the game. It borders to insanity what Irrational Games has delivered in this category. We have not seen such harmonious design and attention to detail in a long time (Dishonored was one of the last highlights). We have to pay the developers respect for their unbelievable effort. Nearly every screenshot could be a wonderful poster, wallpaper or picture in an art-book. The game world nearly explodes because of all those objects, be it flowers, candles, market stands, balloons or flags. Atmospherically speaking, BioShock Infinite is the new reference.

The terrific atmosphere is accentuated by a no less than superb soundtrack (20’s style). Especially in the first two hours you practically would like to dive into the screen. The wonderful melodies, which were partly interpreted by in-game choirs and orchestras, cause goose bumps. Even the voice-over suits very well.

Irrational Games does not only indulge the gamer optically and acoustically but also historically – in the true sense of the word. Despite the rather simple main quest (find Elizabeth and care for her) BioShock offers quite a bit content wise. Those who do not simply run through are confronted with lots of US history: the period of slavery, war of independence, political and religious questions – the range is huge. Theoretically you can spend hours just with the unimportant details. The people of Columbia are set somewhere between the Ku Klux Klan and naive idealism – a rather unconventional topic for a computer game.

The architecture of the levels is also quite unusual: Via grab hooks we sometimes hook ourselves up to the rail system of Columbia and speed through the area (incl. change of rails and death-from-above option). Even though the surrounding was mainly linearly designed you often discover alternative routes which reveal new audio books, secrets or side quests. The overall impression is topped off with a thought out and smooth control.

With the exception of the low level of difficulty we could not find any serious flaws. The ego shooter only allows itself a few minor ones:

  • Theft is rarely punished. You can basically steal everything that is not nailed down.
  • The progress is automatically saved at certain spots. A quick-save option is missing.
  • Many characters look extremely alike or are completely identical (clone enemies).
  • The title is very action-packed. A few more riddles and moments of rest would have suited the game well.
  • Most of the objects do not react to exterior influences (no physics).
  • Some textures look mushy at close-up.

Discussion

Benchmark

BioShock Infinite holds an integrated benchmark which is offered directly at the beginning of the game. With a graphical plain command line (rather unsuitable for laymen) you can adjust the setting and resolution. After a short loading sequence several scenes from the beginning of the action title appear. The complete benchmark takes about 1.5 minutes (see video). At the end BioShock Infinite gives out a detailed .csv file, which you can also obtain through the personal Windows folder (C:\Users\Name\Documents\My Games\BioShock Infinite\Benchmarks). You can find the average fps at the second spot in line "Overall".

As a general rule: While the processor is barely loaded, the graphics card works up a sweat. Due to temporary performance break-downs, which also affect stronger GPUs, the refresh rate should be set above 35-40. Sad to say, BioShock Infinite is not optimized perfectly at the moment. During the game – autonomously from the used hardware – we sometimes experienced some low frame rates.

Technology

In every aspect the technology works fine. The modified Unreal Engine 3 shines amongst others with high quality reflections and light effects. The color was also carefully chosen. The unique style and high level of detail help to overlook the existing texture weaknesses. Beside the screen mode, the aspect ratio, and the resolution you can also change the graphics quality and the brightness. With the option "Lock Framerate" (Irrational Games' VSync counterpart) time lapses are eliminated if needed.

The presets Very Low, Low, Medium, High, Very High, and Ultra help to adjust BioShock to the performance of your system. Great: No restart is needed after changes. Since the title only supports DirectX 10 and DirectX 11, owners of DirectX 9 computers (Windows XP) are left outside. As our screenshots prove, the action game still looks acceptable at medium details. Only the preset Very Low really pulls the graphics quality downwards.

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

Results

Due to the benchmark results it is not very noticeable that BioShock Infinite belongs to AMD’s program "Gaming Evolved". On the contrary: With the brand new ForceWare 314.11, which underlies this article, Nvidia models score higher by tendency. Slower GPUs at the level of the Intel HD Graphics 4000 can handle the preset low or very low at the most (1280x720). Potent representatives of the middle class like the Radeon HD 8750M or the GeForce GT 640M run also smoothly at medium to high settings (1366x768). For very high details and a 1600x900 resolution you need a high-end model like the GeForce GTX 660M. 1920x1080 pixel and maximum graphics options demand one of the current front runners (GeForce GTX 675MX, GTX 680M, or Radeon HD 7970M). If you exclude the DirectX 11 mode, the hardware demands are not that high though.

Benchmark-Tabelle: BioShock Infinite

Verdict

BioShock Infinite turns out to be an impressive roller-coaster ride. Every once in a while even hardboiled shooter experts will sit marveling in front of the screen to enjoy the unique atmosphere. The artistic qualities are nearly unrivaled. Those who are even remotely interested in the action genre should definitely try out this title. BioShock Infinite already ranks among the best games of the year.

Test Systems

Most of the results were taken from devices provided by the company Schenker Notebooks (mysn.de):

  • XMG P502 (Core i7-3610QM, GeForce GTX 660M, GTX 670M, GTX 675M(X), GTX 680M, Radeon HD 7970M & HD Graphics 4000)
  • XMG A502 (Core i5-3360M, GeForce GT 650M)
  • Xesia M501 (Core i7-2630QM, GeForce GT 630M & HD Graphics 3000)
  • Each with 8 GB DDR3-RAM (2x 4096 MB @ 1600 MHz), 160 GB SSD (Intel 320 Series)  & Windows 7 Professional 64 Bit

GPU drivers: Nvidia 314.22, AMD 13.3 Beta 3 & Intel 9.17.10.2932.

From left to right: Schenker XMG A502, Xesia M501 & XMG P502
From left to right: Schenker XMG A502, Xesia M501 & XMG P502

Overview

Show Restrictions
Pos      Model                                     BioShock Infinite
 BioShock Infinite (2013)
low
1280x720
Very Low Preset
med.
1366x768
Medium Preset
high
1366x768
High Preset
ultra
1920x1080
Ultra Preset, DX11 (DDOF)
 1NVIDIA Titan X Pascal
219.2
208.4
186.7
165.7
 2NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 SLI (Laptop)
194
 3NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 SLI (Laptop)
198.4
 4NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 (Desktop)
360
319
2992
182.52
 5NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 (Laptop)
168.73
 6NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 SLI (Laptop)
293.3
259.7
241.6
178.1
 7NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 (Desktop)
154.52
 8NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 (Laptop)
197.13
178.83
1613
1249
 9NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti
160
 10NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M SLI
278.3
251.8
226.33
149.33
 12AMD Radeon R9 Nano
132
 13NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980
286.4
241.7
225
116.352
 14NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 (Laptop)
272.92
242.652
226.73
116.65
 16AMD Radeon R9 390X
283.8
246
228.3
112.4
 17NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M SLI
290.2
273.1
220.32
131.052
 19*NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 (Laptop)
195.1
177.3
156.44
99.4510
 20AMD Radeon RX 480
335
286
257
110
 21NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti
289.9
237.9
218.6
116.4
 22NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970
264.9
234.4
219.2
112.82
Pos      Model                                     BioShock Infinite
lowmed.highultra
 25NVIDIA GeForce GTX 880M SLI
222.6
198.1
181.4
104
 26NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M SLI
233.5
208.5
94.5
 29NVIDIA GeForce GTX 965M SLI
165.3
93.1
 30AMD Radeon R9 M290X Crossfire
173.4
152.6
145.5
85
 31AMD Radeon HD 8970M Crossfire
166.82
156.42
86.92
 34NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M
209.42
1913
177.616
90.217
 35NVIDIA Quadro M5000M
289
228
212
92
 36AMD Radeon R9 280X
253.3
211.7
182.6
76.3
 37AMD Radeon R9 380
287.5
219.2
191.9
80.8
 38NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960
279.2
208.9
185.4
75.8
 39NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti (Desktop)
208
79
 41NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M
174.954
150.25
149.0514
71.7514
 42*NVIDIA Quadro M4000M
196
181
85
 43NVIDIA GeForce GTX 860M SLI
223.4
185
162.6
61.8
 44NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680
199.92
159.152
144.552
55.83
 45AMD Radeon HD 7970
199.2
170.1
150.9
64.3
 50AMD Radeon R9 M295X
175.6
148.4
142
65.4
 52NVIDIA Quadro M3000M
226.3
179.352
165.252
69.752
 53AMD FirePro W7170M
220
178
158
66
 55AMD Radeon R7 370
269.79
172.39
149.47
55.96
Pos      Model                                     BioShock Infinite
lowmed.highultra
 57NVIDIA GeForce GTX 880M
2103
1663
1525
65.65
 58NVIDIA GeForce GTX 950
269.7
184.3
164
63.2
 60NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 Ti
200.7
168.8
151.3
62.9
 61NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760
269.5
186.8
164.8
65.3
 62NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M
217.7
167.9
149.052
46.65
 63NVIDIA Quadro K5100M
157
132
49
 65AMD Radeon RX 460 (Desktop)
55.3
 67NVIDIA GeForce GTX 965M
190.75
148.756
133.36
53.656
 68NVIDIA GeForce GTX 870M
188.654
146.954
1315
52.25
 69AMD Radeon R9 M290X
164.6
140
124.7
46.8
 70AMD Radeon HD 8970M
192.452
144.852
129.72
43.73
 76NVIDIA GeForce GTX 765M SLI
205.4
156.7
1392
53.62
 78NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680M
184.4
133.22
116.752
45.82
 80AMD FirePro M6100
230
112
94
34
 81AMD Radeon HD 7970M
168.1
121.2
116.6
43.7
 82*AMD Radeon R9 M390
213
147
130
49.5
 83NVIDIA GeForce GTX 750 Ti
233.3
140
122.2
46.7
 87NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M
164.9510
13017
117.929
45.4530
 89NVIDIA Quadro M2000M
207.956
132.37
114.758
43.78
 91NVIDIA Quadro K4100M
178
115
101
37
Pos      Model                                     BioShock Infinite
lowmed.highultra
 93NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770M
190.24
117.765
99.256
29.436
 94NVIDIA GeForce GTX 860M
185.947
123.1510
105.9816
41.5716
 97NVIDIA GeForce GT 755M SLI
124.8
113.8
45.3
 100NVIDIA GeForce GTX 675MX
177.2
111.9
98.6
36.2
 101NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M SLI
104.1
94.2
38.9
 103NVIDIA GeForce GTX 950M
135.058
99.913
86.113
29.613
 105AMD Radeon R9 M385X
89
79.6
75.1
32.4
 106NVIDIA GeForce GTX 850M
150.86
98.66
82.89
28.49
 107NVIDIA Quadro M1000M
185.852
1132
100.052
37.52
 108AMD Radeon R9 M280X
64.3
67.9
62
26.5
 112NVIDIA GeForce GTX 470
162.3
111.5
100.9
32.8
 113NVIDIA GeForce 945M
148.5
92.9
78.7
26.4
 114NVIDIA GeForce GTX 765M
152.25
90.98
77.18
23.257
 120Intel Iris Pro Graphics 580
101.3
57.9
51
14.9
 122NVIDIA GeForce GTX 675M
164.3
103.1
91.1
28.6
 128AMD Radeon HD 7770
171.6
91.8
76.7
24.7
 133NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 768MB
165
98.74
85.36
25.39
 136NVIDIA Quadro K3100M
158.052
96.9
84.8
26.852
 138AMD Radeon R9 M370X
160.2
85
71.4
25.7
 139NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670MX
158.1
91.8
78.3
27.9
Pos      Model                                     BioShock Infinite
lowmed.highultra
 141NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760M
140
82
70
20
 142AMD Radeon R9 M275
88.2
52
42.8
14.4
 143NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670M
151.1
88.3
76.1
23.1
 144NVIDIA Maxwell GPU Surface Book (940M, GDDR5)
94.2
64.8
56.5
20.8
 145AMD FirePro W5130M
137
65.42
56.252
21.452
 149AMD Radeon HD 8870M
70.3
55.7
51.4
19.3
 154AMD FirePro M5100
80
73
62
21
 155NVIDIA Quadro K2100M
106
60
51
14
 160AMD Radeon R7 250
141.1
78.4
66.8
20.3
 161NVIDIA GeForce GT 755M
72.6
64.7
24.2
 162NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660M
126.5
72.4
64
22.9
 163NVIDIA GeForce 845M
42.7
39.3
13.9
 164AMD Radeon HD 8850M
87.92
55.62
46.252
16.92
 166AMD Radeon R9 M265X
118.32
63.44
54.154
19.44
 168AMD Radeon HD 8790M
113
55
47
15.6
 169AMD FirePro W4170M
108
56
49
17
 175NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M
899
55.89
45.610
16.39
 177NVIDIA GeForce 940MX
9113
53.813
44.3514
14.911
 178NVIDIA Quadro K1100M
87.4
44.5
42.4
15.4
 179NVIDIA GeForce 940M
90.178
50.710
41.8410
14.48
Pos      Model                                     BioShock Infinite
lowmed.highultra
 180AMD FirePro W4190M
85.19
38.42
34.08
13.64
 181AMD Radeon R9 M375
89.2
52.9
44
16.3
 184AMD Radeon R7 M370
88.23
50.23
46.73
173
 186NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M
97.632
55.932
47.992
17.452
 187NVIDIA Quadro K620M
73
52
42
15
 188NVIDIA GeForce 840M
84.820
48.6520
39.720
13.520
 190NVIDIA GeForce GT 745M
90.872
50.782
42.72
12.572
 194AMD Radeon R7 512 Cores (Kaveri Desktop)
80.3
 195Intel Iris Pro Graphics 5200
78.5
40.1
35.2
9.8
 196AMD Radeon R7 384 Cores (Kaveri Desktop)
78.4
 197NVIDIA GeForce GT 740M
68.413
3713
30.713
9.28
 198NVIDIA GeForce 930M
81.224
47.655
38.785
13.45
 199*Intel Iris Graphics 550
82.74
50.95
43.35
10.154
 200NVIDIA GeForce 830M
74.7
43.8
35.3
12.3