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Borderlands 2 Benchmarked

Florian Glaser (translated by Liala Stiegitz), 09/25/2012

Guaranteed fun. What do you get when you mix role-playing and action components and garnish it with cel-shaded looks and a loose sense of humor? Right: Borderlands 2. We looked closer at the colorful, exotic blend and checked Unreal Engine 3's hardware hunger.

Borderlands 2

Although the first part proved to be repetitive after a while, Borderlands conquered the hearts of many players. The game clearly stuck out of the mass of first-person shooters due to its witty gameplay and the fun co-op mode. The developer Gearbox not only promises a bigger game world but also more variety for its ambitious second part. We will supply a brief evaluation of gaming quality and analyze the performed benchmarks.

Description

The player notices Gearbox's talent for design and humor right from the start. The illustrated story preview, inspired by "Diablo III" and "Darksiders II" style, is followed by a cool and extremely humorous intro video that sets the mood for the crazy and apocalyptic scenario perfectly. Similarities to Id Software's "Rage" cannot be denied. Various wild clans and gangs cavort in the post-apocalyptic scenery. Moreover, armed buggies serve as a means of transportation in the later course of the game.

However, the innumerable monsters and creatures do not represent the greatest menace. That is primarily left up to the company "Hyperion" and its leader "Handsome Jack", who also has it in for the hero right from the start. The player, respectively the player group (part 2 also features a co-op mode), is a victim of attack in the aforementioned intro video. Thanks to the chatty robot "Claptrap" and "Sir Hammerlock", a technical savvy cowboy, you quickly find your way around on the planet "Pandora".

 

The cute robot "Claptrap" finds us after a train accident…
The cute robot "Claptrap" finds us after a train accident…
…and leads the hero to its abode.
…and leads the hero to its abode.
The apartment is of course secured.
The apartment is of course secured.
Claptrap's apartment is nicely done up.
Claptrap's apartment is nicely done up.
Amusing posters decorate the walls.
Amusing posters decorate the walls.
The symbol language partly reminds us of Fallout and Portal.
The symbol language partly reminds us of Fallout and Portal.

Keyword Cowboy: despite the snowy setting, Borderlands 2 often proves to be a tribute to the Western genre. Alongside the atmospheric day/night change, the excellent soundtrack and the ever-present humor, the game creates a unique mood. The refreshing comic-like graphics contribute to the successful overall impression which is characterized by clear lines, black contours and bright colors. A comparable cel-shaded look is found in the comic adaption "XIII".

The developer earns special praise for the extremely soft controls. Only a few first-person shooters, such as "Quake", "UT" or "Doom" come close to the game's "movements". The character moves extremely sleekly over the screen, provided an adequate frame rate is possible. Evading as well as high jumps is usually possible without difficulties. The same is true for weapon usage. The combats are a lot of fun thanks to the multifarious weapons and the sated hit feedback (both visually and audibly).

Borderlands 2 fuses action and role-playing components.
Borderlands 2 fuses action and role-playing components.
A map helps you find your way around.
A map helps you find your way around.
The inventory could be a bit more user friendly.
The inventory could be a bit more user friendly.
The three-branch skill trees include many exciting abilities.
The three-branch skill trees include many exciting abilities.
Mini challenges increase the badass rank.
Mini challenges increase the badass rank.
Damage is shown right away.
Damage is shown right away.

The menu system is not optimal. While the quest log, map and skill tree are still fairly easy to use, the inventory is a bit unhelpful - despite the comparison function - because the knapsack is filled pretty fast (greetings from "DayZ") and you need to click quite a lot for certain actions.

However, the store and respawn system annoyed us most. Just like in Borderlands, the game replaces finished rivals and boss opponents after a while. The widely distributed chests, boxes and cupboards are also eventually refilled with loot. In our opinion, this design decision obscures the feeling of progress. Why should you investigate every angle when everything is as it was the next time you start the game? The Diablo-typical search and collect concept will not motivate every gamer in the long run – regardless of how amusing the missions are.

Some bosses look gigantic.
Some bosses look gigantic.
Sir Hammerlock is one of the first contacts.
Sir Hammerlock is one of the first contacts.
Gearbox fires from all cylinders.
Gearbox fires from all cylinders.
Important characters and monsters are introduced individually.
Important characters and monsters are introduced individually.
The writers were apparently given free hand.
The writers were apparently given free hand.
The comic-like look clearly sticks out from the competition.
The comic-like look clearly sticks out from the competition.

Benchmark

The benchmark sequence we selected is as usual quite challenging. We recorded a sprint of roughly 20 seconds in the tutorial village via the tool Fraps. The starting point was the village entrance or exit which is reached shortly after encountering Claptrap. The goal is the free-standing house where Sir Hammerlock barricades himself with a wall of ice and an electric fence.

Since rivals are not respawned after their elimination, the village is perfect for measurements. The performance is lower here than in other areas due to the numerous lighting elements and objects. It is hardly interfering that the frame rate in the inventory drops clearly in practice.

Settings

The used Unreal Engine 3 leaves us with mixed feelings. The nice effects have to be mentioned primarily on the pro side. It bangs, crashes and explodes everywhere. The moderate hardware requirements and short load times are other plus points. We primarily criticize the weak textures, whereas the comic look can cover this flaw well. The known reload problem of the Unreal Engine (a few textures appear delayed) not only turns up when opening loot objects, in the menu or changing the region and at game start.

Low settings
Low settings (1.024 x 768)
Medium settings
Medium settings (1.366 x 768)
High settings
High settings (1.366 x 768)
Ultra settings
Ultra settings (1.920 x 1.080)

Borderlands 2 has otherwise been adapted wonderfully for the PC platform. The controls as well as the graphics can be configured extensively. Thus, an item for shader based FXAA anti-aliasing, depth of field and the built-in ambient occlusion are found besides other things in the option menu. Texture quality, game detail and view distance range from "low" up to "(ultra) high" and vegetation can be set to close or far. However, some options (e.g. display of bullet holes) are hardly noticed during the heat of the battle and/or have minimum impact on the performance. Vertical synchronization (prevents line interlacing) and the optional fps controls were naturally disabled during the benchmarks.

Low settings
Low settings (1.024 x 768)
Medium settings
Medium settings (1.366 x 768)
High settings
High settings (1.366 x 768)
Ultra settings
Ultra settings (1.920 x 1.080)

Almost all changes can be performed in-game. Restarting is only necessary when the PhysX level is modified. A minor bug: Borderlands 2 occasionally misinterprets the set resolution. Thus the game stated 1360x768 pixels although we set 1024x768 pixels on a laptop. However, we can give the all clear signal: the selected resolution is always implemented correctly.

Low settings
Low settings (1.024 x 768)
Medium settings
Medium settings (1.366 x 768)
High settings
High settings (1.366 x 768)
Ultra settings
Ultra settings (1.920 x 1.080)

Results

Borderlands 2 definitely cannot be considered one of the most computing-intensive games. In contrast to other action games, such as "Battlefield 3" or "Sleeping Dogs", you can enjoy high details and 1920x1080 pixels with an upper midrange GPU. A GeForce GT 650M managed our ultra setting (FHD, high/on, FXAA, 8x AF, PhysX low) with good 36 fps.

Weaker all-round graphics cards, such as the GeForce GT 630M, are overburdened by high settings. The power is easily enough for medium details and 1366x768 pixels though. Entry-level models on a par with Intel's HD Graphics 4000 only power low to default details properly. The game generally stutters on an outdated HD Graphics 3000Borderlands 2 does not place high requirements on neither the CPU nor working memory.

Benchmark-Tabelle Borderlands 2

PhysX

Regardless that the PhysX option is currently not grayed out in all AMD systems, the extended PhysX effects are reserved for Nvidia users. While a few elements, such as flags, are omitted and destroyable objects only burst into few single parts on the lowest level (which should equal disabled PhysX), the player can enjoy a lot more in medium and high levels (see screenshots). Massive differences are also seen in combats (muzzle flashes, blood, etc.).

A short test on the GeForce GTX 680M showed that our benchmark remains quite unaffected from the PhysX setting. This is no surprise since the sequence hardly contains physics. The GTX 680M's performance varied between 71, 67 and 65 fps in the ultra setting (PhysX low, medium & high).

PhysX Low
PhysX Low
PhysX Medium
PhysX Medium
PhysX High
PhysX High
PhysX Low
PhysX Low
PhysX Medium
PhysX Medium
PhysX High
PhysX High

Verdict

Borderlands 2 is definitely worth a peek. Gearbox created a unique action-role-game mixture that will certainly find many followers. This amount of gaming fun is rare – no matter if in co-op or single mode. It is also convenient that a high-end laptop is not needed for the game.

The game offers pretty panorama pictures.
The game offers pretty panorama pictures.
The developer shows a big sense of humor.
The developer shows a big sense of humor.
The representation of water is quite appealing.
The representation of water is quite appealing.

Test Systems

Many thanks to Schenker Notebooks, who kindly provided us with the following laptops (mysn.de): 

  • XMG P502 (Core i7-3610QM, GeForce GTX 660M, GTX 670M, GTX 675M, GTX 680M & Radeon HD 7970M, 8 GB RAM)
  • XMG A502 (Core i5-3360M, GeForce GT 650M & HD Graphics 4000, 8 GB RAM)
  • Xesia M501 (Core i7-2630QM, GeForce GT 630M & HD Graphics 3000, 8 GB RAM) 

The GPU driver versions used for the listed laptops were 306.23 (Nvidia), 8.951.6.0 (AMD) and 8.15.10.2761 (Intel).

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

Übersicht

Show Restrictions
Pos      Model                                     Borderlands 2
 Borderlands 2 (2012)
low
1024x768
Low / Off (PhysX low)
med.
1366x768
Medium / Off (PhysX low)
high
1366x768
High / On (PhysX low)
4xAF FXAA
ultra
1920x1080
(Ultra) High / On (PhysX low)
8xAF FXAA
 6NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M SLI
142.8
134.6
126.4
 8AMD Radeon HD 8970M Crossfire
137
131
119
 9NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680M SLI
160
134.2
131.7
114.5
 11AMD Radeon R9 290X
1223
 16NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680
130.6
119.4
113
100.7
 17AMD Radeon HD 7970
131.6
119.5
112.7
93.5
 22NVIDIA GeForce GTX 880M
151
112
108
94
 23NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 Ti
122.7
108.7
104.3
89.4
 25NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M
130.2
109.3
106.8
83.33
 31AMD Radeon HD 8970M
127.4
111.4
99.2
58.552
 35NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680M
119.9
98.9
88.4
71.13
 36NVIDIA GeForce GTX 765M SLI
147.2
128.5
119.7
90.4
 38AMD Radeon HD 7970M
113.7
97.2
87.5
59.83
 40NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670MX SLI
117.8
112.6
104.2
78.9
 45NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770M
120
105.9
93.7
64.3
 53NVIDIA GeForce GTX 675MX
94.1
82.8
62.9
 54NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M SLI
96.3
93.2
75.3
 60NVIDIA GeForce GTX 765M
117.3
99.72
80.652
47.73
 66NVIDIA GeForce GTX 675M
112.1
92.7
78
52.6
Pos      Model                                     Borderlands 2
lowmed.highultra
 69AMD Radeon HD 7770
115.6
96.3
73.1
42.3
 70NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M SLI
89.9
79.6
78.2
59.9
 78NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670MX
109.8
96.3
70.452
45.352
 80NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760M
105
96
45
 82NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670M
110.6
88.3
72
46
 86AMD Radeon HD 8870M
72.3
61.1
48.4
31.5
 92NVIDIA Quadro K2100M
127
82
62
36
 100NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660M
100.6
87.7
66.5
41.3
 111NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M
85.4
63.9
45.1
28.7
 112NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M
82.1
65.1
54
35.7
 113NVIDIA GeForce 840M
71.3
49.9
32.1
20
 115NVIDIA Quadro K1100M
62
52
36
 116NVIDIA GeForce GT 745M
94
69.9
48.9
30.5
 119AMD Radeon R7 in A10-7850K APU (Kaveri)
64
46.6
34.1
22.9
 120Intel Iris Pro Graphics 5200
41.6
24.2
 122NVIDIA GeForce GT 740M
77.3
57.6
41.4
26.5
 125NVIDIA GeForce GTS 450
35
 127NVIDIA GeForce GT 735M
37.7
29.5
18.6
 141NVIDIA GeForce GT 730M
66
58
42
29
 143*NVIDIA GeForce GT 645M
81.2
64.4
44.3
27.7
Pos      Model                                     Borderlands 2
lowmed.highultra
 144AMD FirePro M4100
37
19
 145AMD Radeon HD 8750M
53
41
31.3
18.1
 152NVIDIA GeForce GT 640M
65
55
40.6
25
 180AMD Radeon HD 8730M
51.6
40.4
30.5
17.3
 198AMD Radeon HD 8650G + HD 8570M Dual Graphics
24.6
24.5
21.1
14.4
 221AMD Radeon HD 8650G
45
33
24
14
 225AMD Radeon HD 7670M
52.9
40.4
28.5
15.8
 226NVIDIA GeForce GT 630M
57.1
40.3
27.7
15.5
 233NVIDIA GeForce GT 720M
46.8
31.5
21.5
 235Intel Iris Graphics 5100
60.4
27.3
20.8
12
 236AMD Radeon R5 M230
38.1
26.2
19
11.9
 242AMD Radeon HD 8550M
25.4
20.9
16.7
 252AMD Radeon HD 7660G
39
33
23
13.4
 256*Intel HD Graphics 5300
20.2
11.3
9.5
4
 270ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5650
44.8
35.5
24.7
13.4
 273AMD Radeon HD 8550G
43
31
20.3
12.7
 286Intel HD Graphics 4400
49
25
15
 289AMD Radeon HD 7550M
30.3
23.2
16.6
 297AMD Radeon HD 7600G
16.1
12
9.2
 324Intel HD Graphics 4000
32.73
23.23
15.83
10.3
Pos      Model                                     Borderlands 2
lowmed.highultra
 327AMD Radeon R5 (Beema)
19.9
12.3
10.1
6.1
 328*AMD Radeon R4 (Beema)
24.4
18.2
13
7.9
 329Intel HD Graphics 4200
20
15.5
9.3
 342NVIDIA GeForce GT 520MX
33
25.3
20
 376AMD Radeon HD 7420G
24
18
11
 394AMD Radeon HD 7400G
21
12
 418Intel HD Graphics 3000
23.952
152
12.3
6.4
 436AMD Radeon HD 8210
5.4
* 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 > Archive of our own reviews > Borderlands 2 Benchmarked
Author: Florian Glaser, 2012-09-25 (Update: 2013-06- 6)