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Dishonored Benchmarked

Florian Glaser, 10/22/2012

Artistic freedom. The publisher Bethesda has released one of the most unusual games of the year with Dishonored. The ambitious stealth-action role game mix fuses various genres into a captivating total bundle. The key question of our review: Just how high are the hardware requirements of this steampunk world?

Dishonored Logo

Fans of classic shooter entertainment will be just as wide of the mark as hardcore role game fans with Dishonored. Arkane Studios, based in France, has designed the title primarily toward stealth-action adventure. When looking at the developer's last projects, it quickly becomes clear that Arkane has never aimed anything at the mass market.

For example, "Arx Fatalis" released in 2002 was a gloomy first-person game that scored well with its eerie atmosphere, a highly interactive gameplay and interesting story (the sun's extinction forced mankind to flee to the underworld). The main criticism was the botched controls.

After "Arx Fatalis", Arkane released the popular game "Dark Messiah of Might and Magic" in 2006. In contrast to "Arx Fatalis", the title was clearly more action-packed. Dark Messiah reaped in a lot of praise thanks to the vicious battles and physics gimmicks. The developer did not have as much luck with its next big project. "The Crossing" was to fuse single and multi-player elements to a successful whole. We emphasize "was to" because the very promising game was aborted after years of production.

Now Arkane dares to try again under the leadership of Harvey Smith (the creative director was already involved in "System Shock" and "Deus Ex"). Dishonored has received a lot of advance praise in the past few months. Unsurprisingly, as any unique game stands out from the action monotony at the moment. Will the final version really be exciting?

Description

It would be best to start off with a bit of background information about the scenario. Dishonored takes place in the Victorian-inspired metropolis "Dunwall" that is stricken by a rancorous epidemic. The player is not a simple inhabitant but a guardian of the Empress who is assassinated shortly after the start. Corvo finds shelter by a few Empress-devoted residents after he is mistakenly arrested and escapes prison just before his execution. We do not want to reveal more of the plot at this point.

The main character is accused of murder
The main character is accused of murder
and is imprisoned in the local jail.
and is imprisoned in the local jail.
Apparently, he manages to escape – for now.
Apparently, he manages to escape – for now.

Dishonored's biggest strength is its fantastic atmosphere. Despite the older graphics, Arkane easily manages to captivate the player. The extravagant steampunk world delivers agreeably unique looks. We often thought ourselves to be in a mixture of "Half Life 2" and "Bioshock". Few competing products offer such a coherent overall appearance.

The outstanding soundtrack also helps immersion into the game. The excellent narrators, the well-made ambient sounds and the entrancing (though a bit oddly implemented) music ensure an extremely dense atmosphere. However, it is too bad that the main character does not speak at all and thus remains correspondingly insipid. Dishonored wastes potential here. Otherwise, we quite liked the first hours of the game. Since the game runs enjoyably smooth and its controls are intuitive, even newbies will manage quickly.

Great: Remote from the main path, you frequently find small challenges, hidden rooms or other secrets. Scattered books and documents let the player sink deeper into the universe and its story. A decent game-save system (quick-save function available) is not a matter of course either.

The world view is quite high
The world view is quite high
Have we traveled to Victorian England?
Have we traveled to Victorian England?
The entire graphics style looks like a painting.
The entire graphics style looks like a painting.

Regrettably, the developer has not done a perfect job with one of the most important aspects, namely the stealth framework. Although you can peek through keyholes and drag opponents knocked-out from behind into dark corners (some bodies disappear after a while) in proper style, several weaknesses are seen in the details.

For example, you cannot destroy any lamps, which is actually a must in a stealth-game. The absence of a brightness indicator is also annoying. The developer should have looked at other games. The player gets a lot more feedback in the almost seven year-old "Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory".

Many items are soon collected in the inventory.
Many items are soon collected in the inventory.
Various kinds of ammunition enrich gameplay.
Various kinds of ammunition enrich gameplay.
The mission statistics encourage slow progression.
The mission statistics encourage slow progression.

However, the AI disappointed us most. Enemies neither respond to opened doors nor absent comrades – at least in medium difficulty. Beyond that, the view of the AI is rather limited. You can usually slay enemies easily when they are in fact in their colleague's field of view. As a result, the game gets too easy and unchallenging (especially with the magical abilities).

Overall, Dishonored cannot reach the stealth-level of other members of this genre, like "Thief". The stealth system is more in the range of "Deus Ex: Human Revolution". But this does not mean that the title deteriorates to a boring click game – Dishonored is definitely not an ordinary action-game.

The journal summarizes the main and side tasks.
The journal summarizes the main and side tasks.
The active skills reduce the level of difficulty.
The active skills reduce the level of difficulty.
The bone charms bring passive bonuses.
The bone charms bring passive bonuses.

Benchmark

We use the beginning of the game where Corvo is being brought to the Empress on a small boat for the benchmarks. Using the tool Fraps, we record the refresh rate until the boat reaches its destination and the pier is extended.

The 1.5 minute sequence allows very consistent results and a high comparability due to the predefined course. Our experience shows that Dishonored runs a bit slower than usual in this passage. Ergo, the game should be rendered properly in the corresponding settings when a graphics card receives a green value (chart below the article).

Technology

The outdated Unreal Engine 3 is noticed clearly in Dishonored. Particularly the texture quality is often unsatisfactory. Many object wallpapers are extremely muddy. The general lack of polygons also reduces attractiveness . Only water, light/shadow effects and the faces/clothes of the various characters are fairly acceptable.

Other games based on Unreal Engine 3 (e.g. "Batman: Arkham City") look much better. The technically equally weak "Borderlands 2" can hide the graphic's inadequacies (the prominent comic-look belies the weak textures quite well). In return, the hardware-hunger is surprisingly low.

Low settings
Low settings
Medium settings
Medium settings
High / Ultra settings
High / Ultra settings

Generally, the technology seems quite developed to us. Apart from the fact that the settings are not saved correctly in offline mode (everything reverts to default the next time the game is started), we did not observe any crashes, graphics errors or other problems during the benchmarks. The game also has to be praised for its short load times.

Low settings
Low Settings
Medium settings
Medium Settings
High / Ultra settings
High / Ultra Settings

The graphics menu does not have many options available. In addition to the brightness and the field of view (FOV), it is possible to adjust the texture and character details. The light shafts can be turned on and off, just like rat shadows. Anti-aliasing is also optionally available (MLAA or FXAA). However, unclean edges turn up despite enabled anti-aliasing because high-level MSAA has been omitted.

Regardless of that, there are controls for the full screen on/off, vertical sync and resolution in the video settings. However, Arkane set a limit of 130 frames per minute.

Low settings
Low settings
Medium settings
Medium settings
High / Ultra settings
High / Ultra settings

Results

As already indicated, you do not need a high-end computer for Dishonored. 1920x1080 pixels and maximum details are playable on a graphics card from the upper midrange. For example the GeForce GT 640M: Nvidia's Kepler model accomplished a good 40 fps in our sequence.

"Normal" midrange GPUs, such as the GeForce GT 630M, also manage high options – that is if you do not overdo it with the resolution. Only low or medium details should be used on entry-level models, the like of Intel's HD Graphics 4000. Owners of an HD Graphics 3000 will always have to reckon with stutters.

Benchmark chart Dishonored

Verdict

Although there are reasons for complaint in a few categories, we can recommend Dishonored with a clear conscious. The game is not only suitable for stealth fans, but also for gamers who want to experience a new world and a mysterious story. In contrast to other action-blockbusters, Dishonored offers a lot of gaming elbow room. The title invites you to experiment and rewards tactics, and we must mention the superb art design.

Rating: artistically valuable
Rating: artistically valuable
The genre blend partly reminds of Half Life 2 (same creative designer)
The genre blend partly reminds of Half Life 2 (same creative designer)
The water reproduction is the highlight in terms of looks
The water reproduction is the highlight in terms of looks

Test Systems

Most results were ascertained on laptops from Schenker Notebooks (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 following GPU drivers were used on the latter laptops: Nvidia 306.97, AMD 12.9 Beta and Intel 8.15.10.2761.

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                                     Dishonored
 Dishonored (2012)
low
1024x768
Low / Off, FOV: 75
med.
1366x768
Medium / Off, FOV: 75
high
1366x768
High / On, FOV: 75
FXAA
ultra
1920x1080
High / On, FOV: 75
FXAA
 4NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M SLI
130
130
130
 6AMD Radeon HD 8970M Crossfire
128.92
128.62
128.12
 7NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680M SLI
130
130
129.9
130
 9AMD Radeon R9 290X
1292
 14NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680
127.7
127.7
127.7
127.7
 15AMD Radeon HD 7970
128.1
128
128.4
127.8
 19NVIDIA GeForce GTX 880M
129.21
128.8
128.9
127.37
 20NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 Ti
126.5
126.5
126.8
126.2
 22NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M
128.5
128.2
128.252
125.54
 26NVIDIA GeForce GTX 870M
129.7
127.5
128.5
97.4
 28AMD Radeon HD 8970M
126.4
126.1
126
92.652
 32NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680M
121.4
121.5
120
115.73
 33NVIDIA GeForce GTX 765M SLI
130
130
129.9
128.3
 35AMD Radeon HD 7970M
124.4
123.2
124.3
97.63
 37NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670MX SLI
129
129.3
129.4
126.6
 41NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770M
127.7
127.5
127.5
108.7
 42NVIDIA GeForce GTX 860M
128.8
128.2
128.5
103.6
 50NVIDIA GeForce GTX 675MX
122.4
122.9
122.1
103
 51NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M SLI
128.3
128.3
119.4
Pos      Model                                     Dishonored
lowmed.highultra
 52NVIDIA GeForce GTX 850M
109.2
66.1
 57NVIDIA GeForce GTX 765M
128.2
1273
1203
74.43
 63NVIDIA GeForce GTX 675M
125.2
121
114.7
91.9
 66AMD Radeon HD 7770
127.8
122.8
112.9
66.9
 67NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M SLI
128.5
128
123.3
95.8
 75NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670MX
129.3
127.2
115.752
75.152
 77NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760M
123
122
114
66
 79NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670M
123.8
123.1
118.7
77.8
 83AMD Radeon HD 8870M
85.5
81.1
79.1
51.8
 97NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660M
122.8
102.32
94.652
66.7
 99AMD Radeon HD 8850M
59.3
53.2
51
42.6
 100*AMD Radeon R9 M265X
104.9
85.9
76.952
43.752
 102AMD Radeon HD 8790M
85
75
67
44
 108NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M
109.2
88.1
77.1
44.8
 109NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M
93.92
85.62
81.852
53.552
 110NVIDIA GeForce 840M
75.12
55.752
49.72
19.5
 112NVIDIA GeForce GT 745M
84.4
73.7
43.5
 115AMD Radeon R7 in A10-7850K APU (Kaveri)
70
54.2
51.5
29.1
 116Intel Iris Pro Graphics 5200
89.9
74.5
67.1
40.3
 119NVIDIA GeForce GT 740M
72.15
55.145
53.35
38.24
Pos      Model                                     Dishonored
lowmed.highultra
 123NVIDIA GeForce GT 735M
51.06
24
21.12
12.05
 136AMD Radeon HD 8550G + HD 8750M Dual Graphics
51.1
46
 137NVIDIA GeForce GT 730M
793
723
66.083
40.042
 139*NVIDIA GeForce GT 645M
96.6
78.6
70.6
42.1
 141AMD Radeon HD 8750M
71.7
56.4
49.3
27.8
 143AMD Radeon R7 M265
68.33
55
48.55
27.37
 148NVIDIA GeForce GT 640M
773
74.83
72.63
48.73
 161AMD Radeon R7 M260
45
34.8
31
 173AMD Radeon R6 (Kaveri)
38.3
32.6
29.5
 176AMD Radeon HD 8730M
69.2
55.1
49.6
27
 178NVIDIA GeForce GT 635M
67.4
58.7
55.3
 193AMD Radeon HD 8650G + HD 8670M Dual Graphics
44.5
34.4
30.7
 196AMD Radeon HD 8550G + HD 8670M Dual Graphics
37.2
28.9
25.5
 217AMD Radeon HD 8650G
49.52
38.82
34.452
21.5
 221AMD Radeon HD 7670M
52.5
44.2
39.6
22.3
 222NVIDIA GeForce GT 630M
72.62
59.752
53.752
30.52
 227NVIDIA GeForce 820M
50.8
43.7
24.5
 229NVIDIA GeForce GT 720M
55.5
44.8
38.8
 231Intel Iris Graphics 5100
39
31.8
28.8
16.5
 232AMD Radeon R5 M230
40.6
31.3
27.8
Pos      Model                                     Dishonored
lowmed.highultra
 238AMD Radeon HD 8550M
32
29.4
26.7
 243Intel HD Graphics 4600
41.912
32.262
28.292
19.7
 248AMD Radeon HD 7660G
47
40.2
36.4
20.7
 261AMD Radeon HD 7650M
51.9
41.1
36.8
 263AMD Radeon HD 7570M
43
33.9
30.4
 266ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5650
53.3
42.2
38
21.1
 269AMD Radeon HD 8550G
52
42
34
20
 272NVIDIA GeForce GT 620M
52.252
39.82
34.72
 276AMD Radeon HD 7610M
52
41
37
20
 281Intel HD Graphics 4400
37.754
28.654
26.554
15.41
 284AMD Radeon HD 7550M
37
28.8
25.5
 292AMD Radeon HD 7600G
19.6
14.1
12.4
 319Intel HD Graphics 4000
33.656
26.55
24.74
17.052
 322AMD Radeon R5 (Beema)
26.4
20.3
18.6
 324Intel HD Graphics 4200
17.8
14.5
13.9
8.5
 336AMD Radeon HD 8400
22
 337NVIDIA GeForce GT 520MX
13.8
15.4
15.2
 348AMD Radeon HD 8330
23.5
18.6
16.7
 351AMD Radeon R3 (Mullins/Beema)
17.6
14.1
12.8
 376Intel HD Graphics (Haswell)
22.3
16.8
Pos      Model                                     Dishonored
lowmed.highultra
 389AMD Radeon HD 7400G
20
16
14
 406AMD Radeon HD 8250
16.2
13.1
11.6
 413Intel HD Graphics 3000
24.43
21.72
19.72
11.6
 416NVIDIA GeForce G210M
26.4
22
19.8
 431AMD Radeon HD 8210
11.5
 435Intel HD Graphics (Ivy Bridge)
18.52
14.62
 469*Intel HD Graphics (Sandy Bridge)
13.052
15.1
13.3
 473Intel HD Graphics (Bay Trail)
14.3
11.2
 476AMD Radeon HD 7340
15
12
11
 519Intel Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) 4500MHD
5
* 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.
static version load dynamic

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Archive of our own reviews > Dishonored Benchmarked
Author: Florian Glaser, 2012-10-22 (Update: 2013-06- 6)