Notebookcheck

Dragon Age: Inquisition Benchmarked

Florian Glaser (translated by Vinay Pradhan), 12/02/2014

Third Installment. The second game focused on action and provided gamers immense enjoyment. Now BioWare is making the move to reconsolidate its Dragon Age fans. Our article will focus on the performance of the Frostbite 3 Engine. Will every gamer be able to joy the world of Inquisition?

Dragon Age: Inquisition Logo

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Engine

As mentioned before, BioWare uses the Frostbite 3 Engine made by DICE for Dragon Age: Inquisition. This engine has proven itself in the past in Battlefield 4 and offers a multitude of modern features, such as, tessellation and HBAO, which is nice to have. The textures, shadows and even the lighting of the game are impressive. Tessellation creates a very plastic object structure. The water, vegetation and level details are all good. Many rooms indoors are decorates extensively and the package is rounded off with well-animated, engrossing characters.

The biggest highlight of this game would be the quality of its effects. If one were to zoom in and pausing while fighting, one would notice the unusually high quality light beams, sparks and explosions. Few RPGs can claim to have such amazing effects. The well-designed story and beautiful world are sure to enrapture the gamer.

Dragon Age: Inquisition
Dragon Age: Inquisition
Dragon Age: Inquisition
Dragon Age: Inquisition
Dragon Age: Inquisition
Dragon Age: Inquisition

The variety of options available is impressive. Bioware has really given the gamer the freedom to tailor the game performance to meet their needs. The graphics option offers more than 10 options and four presets ("Low", "Medium", "High" and "Ultra") which automatically set all the menu options. At max, the game activates 2x MSAA which smooths the edges significantly.

Owners of AMD GPUs are happy about the Mantle support (DirectX @Nvidia). While Mantle improves performance at high settings minimally (+4 % @Radeon R9 280X, +8 % @Radeon R9 M290X), it ensures that AMD GPUs can sprint ahead of otherwise faster Nvidia GPUs at low or medium settings (see table). However, in our experience, this boost comes in exchange for longer load times.

Dragon Age: Inquisition
Dragon Age: Inquisition
Dragon Age: Inquisition
Dragon Age: Inquisition
Dragon Age: Inquisition
Dragon Age: Inquisition

Dragon Age refuses to start with Intel GPUs. Thankfully, there is an easy fix: right-click on the desktop and choose the "Graphics Settings". In the graphics options, pick the "3D" menu, and there change the CMAA option from "Deactivate" to "Overwrite program settings". Once finished, the game should run but the problem remains that the Intel chips are far too weak to run this game. Neither the HD Graphics 3000 nor the HD Graphics 4000 or 4600 could provide more than an average of 25 fps. Furthermore, changing the settings will require a restart and the game is known to freeze with some settings.

Dragon Age: Inquisition
Dragon Age: Inquisition
Dragon Age: Inquisition
Dragon Age: Inquisition
Dragon Age: Inquisition
Dragon Age: Inquisition

Benchmark

The recording software, Fraps, does not run with Mantle mode so we were forced to use the internal benchmark, which is far from optimal. The duration of the benchmark depends on the system performance and the test runs very high quality scenes, which are not part of the usual gameplay. All-in-all, a result of 25+ fps on this relatively hard internal benchmark means that the game will run well on the laptop, particularly as Inquisition will be played from the third person camera and not an Ego shooter one. Tip: the Mantle results vary by a few percent so we let the benchmark run 2-3x on our AMD chips and took the best score. The performance is very consistent in DirectX mode. 

Results

Like many other engines (CryEngine 4, id Tech 5), the Frostbite 3 engine does scales little as settings are lowered. As such, even at minimum details, the game looks decent and should not overtax weaker laptops. For low settings, we recommend a middle-class graphics card: the GeForce GT 740M provides a good 35 fps with a resolution of 1,024 x 768 pixels. A resolution of 1,366 x 768 pixels and the "Medium" preset are much harder on the system and require a GeForce GT 750M and up to be on the safe side.

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

A powerful GPU is required for high details and the FHD resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 pixels. A GeForce GTX 860M or GTX 770M can run the game with these settings at 25 fps. Max settings are only recommended for high-end GPUs, like the Radeon R9 M290X or the GeForce GTX 870M/780M. The CPU is hardly a factor in these cases as the GPU is often the deciding factor how well a game runs.

Dragon Age: Inquisition
    1920x1080 Ultra Graphics Quality AA:2x MS     1920x1080 High Graphics Quality     1366x768 Medium Graphics Quality     1024x768 Low Graphics Quality
GeForce GTX 980, 3770K
Desktop-PC
54.1 (min: 43) fps ∼33%
72.6 (min: 63) fps ∼42%
119 (min: 98) fps ∼60%
126.8 (min: 99) fps ∼46%
Radeon R9 280X, 3770K
Desktop-PC
40.7 (min: 37) fps ∼25%
64 (min: 57) fps ∼37%
131.4 (min: 105) fps ∼66%
141.6 (min: 122) fps ∼51%
GeForce GTX 880M, 4700MQ
Schenker W504
31 (min: 24) fps ∼19%
44.4 (min: 38) fps ∼26%
99.3 (min: 81) fps ∼50%
118.6 (min: 87) fps ∼43%
GeForce GTX 780M, 4700MQ
Schenker W503
28.3 (min: 22) fps ∼17%
40.4 (min: 34) fps ∼23%
91.1 (min: 73) fps ∼46%
113 (min: 84) fps ∼41%
Radeon R9 M290X, 4700MQ
Schenker W504
27.6 (min: 23) fps ∼17%
42.4 (min: 39) fps ∼24%
94.7 (min: 85) fps ∼48%
132.1 (min: 114) fps ∼48%
GeForce GTX 870M, 4700MQ
Schenker W504
25.3 (min: 20) fps ∼16%
37.2 (min: 32) fps ∼21%
85.7 (min: 68) fps ∼43%
110.3 (min: 78) fps ∼40%
GeForce GTX 770M, 4700MQ
Schenker W503
18.8 (min: 14) fps ∼12%
27.8 (min: 24) fps ∼16%
68 (min: 55) fps ∼34%
93.9 (min: 70) fps ∼34%
GeForce GTX 860M, 4700MQ
Schenker W504
18.3 (min: 14) fps ∼11%
27.4 (min: 23) fps ∼16%
67.3 (min: 52) fps ∼34%
92.6 (min: 70) fps ∼34%
GeForce GTX 850M, 4340M
Schenker M504
16 (min: 13) fps ∼10%
23.2 (min: 21) fps ∼13%
58.1 (min: 48) fps ∼29%
75.2 (min: 56) fps ∼27%
GeForce GTX 765M, 4700MQ
Schenker W503
14.3 (min: 11) fps ∼9%
21.6 (min: 18) fps ∼12%
54.5 (min: 44) fps ∼27%
77.8 (min: 60) fps ∼28%
GeForce GT 750M, 4702MQ
Schenker M503
8.5 (min: 6) fps ∼5%
13.1 (min: 11) fps ∼8%
34.6 (min: 29) fps ∼17%
50.8 (min: 40) fps ∼18%
Radeon R7 512 Cores (Kaveri Desktop), A10-7850K, Samsung SSD 470 Series MZ-5PA256/EU
A10-7850K Asus A88-XM-PLUS
8 (min: 6) fps ∼5%
12 (min: 11) fps ∼7%
31 (min: 28) fps ∼16%
47 (min: 41) fps ∼17%
GeForce GT 740M, 4200M
HP Envy 15-j011sg
5.5 (min: 4) fps ∼3%
8.8 (min: 7) fps ∼5%
23.2 (min: 20) fps ∼12%
35 (min: 29) fps ∼13%
GeForce GT 640M, 2637M, Lite-On LMT-256M3M
Acer Aspire M3-581TG
26.5 (min: 22.5) fps ∼13%
0 fps ∼0%
GeForce GT 720M, 4200M, WDC Scorpio Blue WD10JPVX-22JC3T0
MSI CX61-i572M
6.8 fps ∼4%
18.9 fps ∼9%
29 fps ∼11%
Radeon HD 8650G, A10-5750M, Samsung SSD 470 Series MZ-5PA256/EU
Pumori Test Platform (A10-5750M)
16.6 (min: 13.7) fps ∼8%
23.7 (min: 18.6) fps ∼9%
HD Graphics 4600, 4700MQ
Schenker W503
3.8 (min: 3) fps ∼2%
5.8 (min: 5) fps ∼3%
14.5 (min: 11) fps ∼7%
22.1 (min: 17) fps ∼8%
GeForce GT 630M, 3720QM, Seagate Momentus 7200.5 ST9750420AS
Asus N56VM
17 (min: 14) fps ∼9%
26 (min: 20) fps ∼9%
Iris Graphics 5100, 4258U, Apple SSD SM0256F
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 13 inch 2013-10
3.5 (min: 2) fps ∼2%
6.3 (min: 5) fps ∼4%
17.3 (min: 13) fps ∼9%
24.3 (min: 19) fps ∼9%
Discussion

Test Systems

Four of our test models come from Schenker Technologies (mysn.de):

  • 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)

These notebooks have Windows 7 64 bit installed.

Nvidia provided a few test models as well:

Intel added one more:

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

The desktop PCs use CPUs/APUs from Intel and AMD, SSDs from Micron, Intel and Samsung, Mainboards from Intel and Asus as well as graphics cards from Nvidia and AMD.

GPU drivers: Nvidia 344.75, AMD 14.11.2 Beta, Intel 10.18.10.3960

Overview

Show Restrictions
Pos      Model                                     Dragon Age: Inquisition
 Dragon Age: Inquisition (2014)
low
1024x768
Low Graphics Quality
med.
1366x768
Medium Graphics Quality
high
1920x1080
High Graphics Quality
ultra
1920x1080
Ultra Graphics Quality
2x MSAA
 2NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 SLI (Laptop)
174
163
 3NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 SLI (Laptop)
159
138
 4NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 (Desktop)
275
161
123.52
 5NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 (Laptop)
150
111
 6NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 SLI (Laptop)
197.8
187.7
159.2
123.5
 7NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 (Desktop)
104.52
 8NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 (Laptop)
109.32
92.7
 9NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti
100
 10NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M SLI
207.9
190.9
120.32
85.752
 11AMD Radeon R9 Fury
158
144
91
60
 12AMD Radeon R9 Nano
68.6
 13NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980
126.8
119
77.42
55.852
 14NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 (Laptop)
189.92
175.052
97.352
65.42
 16AMD Radeon R9 390X
154.7
143.9
88.5
67.9
 17NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M SLI
161.3
147.8
100.32
69.92
 18NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 (Desktop)
212
199
96.5
66.9
 19*NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 (Laptop)
90
59.7
 20AMD Radeon RX 480
592
 22NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970
175.3
171.4
79.5
60.82
Pos      Model                                     Dragon Age: Inquisition
lowmed.highultra
 29NVIDIA GeForce GTX 965M SLI
72
49.8
 34NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M
145.23
126.84
69.17
47.27
 36AMD Radeon R9 280X
141.6
131.4
64
40.7
 37AMD Radeon R9 380
179.7
148.6
62.8
41.6
 38NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960
125.7
109.4
58.4
38.6
 39NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti (Desktop)
39.9
 41NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M
138.54
123.15
52.356
36.256
 44NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680
141
120
55.2
39.5
 50AMD Radeon R9 M295X
97.752
48.3
44.152
32.952
 55AMD Radeon R7 370
161.9
123.7
45.3
29.1
 57NVIDIA GeForce GTX 880M
118.6
99.3
44.4
31
 58NVIDIA GeForce GTX 950
154.4
127.5
47.6
31
 62NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M
113
91.1
40.4
28.3
 63NVIDIA Quadro K5100M
143.4
103.5
37.5
25.9
 67NVIDIA GeForce GTX 965M
84.43
71.73
39.23
27.13
 68NVIDIA GeForce GTX 870M
110.3
85.7
37.2
25.3
 69AMD Radeon R9 M290X
132.1
94.7
42.4
27.6
 82*AMD Radeon R9 M390
80.5
71.5
39.4
27.1
 87NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M
84.754
75.156
33.55
22.55
 93NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770M
93.9
68
27.8
18.8
Pos      Model                                     Dragon Age: Inquisition
lowmed.highultra
 94NVIDIA GeForce GTX 860M
69.852
50.654
28.754
19.54
 103NVIDIA GeForce GTX 950M
46.72
40.93
23.63
16.43
 105AMD Radeon R9 M385X
50.6
42
27.3
17.6
 106NVIDIA GeForce GTX 850M
63.052
37.22
14.12
9.72
 108AMD Radeon R9 M280X
47.2
35.9
20.3
17.6
 113NVIDIA GeForce 945M
98.4
62
21.2
14
 114NVIDIA GeForce GTX 765M
77.8
54.5
21.6
14.3
 136NVIDIA Quadro K3100M
97.7
62.8
21.9
14.5
 163NVIDIA GeForce 845M
31.5
27
19
12.7
 166AMD Radeon R9 M265X
65.9
29.8
19.9
16.8
 175NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M
50.8
34.6
13.1
8.5
 177NVIDIA GeForce 940MX
67.72
43.852
15.32
10.32
 178NVIDIA Quadro K1100M
50.6
33.2
11.1
7.3
 179NVIDIA GeForce 940M
32.22
27.952
16.12
14.3
 181AMD Radeon R9 M375
36.3
34.7
21.4
 184AMD Radeon R7 M370
58.6
34.9
11.7
7.6
 188NVIDIA GeForce 840M
46.052
30.42
14.72
11.8
 194AMD Radeon R7 512 Cores (Kaveri Desktop)
47
31
12
8
 195Intel Iris Pro Graphics 5200
45.42
29.22
10.552
5.852
 196AMD Radeon R7 384 Cores (Kaveri Desktop)
45
30
Pos      Model                                     Dragon Age: Inquisition
lowmed.highultra
 197NVIDIA GeForce GT 740M
35
23.2
8.8
5.5
 198NVIDIA GeForce 930M
452
33.852
20
 200NVIDIA GeForce 830M
42.052
25.952
14.552
9.92
 201Intel Iris Graphics 540
52.3
35.2
11.6
 202*Intel HD Graphics 620
26.5
18.3
6.5
 218AMD Radeon R7 M260X
30.4
19.8
6.8
4.5
 221*NVIDIA GeForce 920MX
45.4
29.2
16.4
 228AMD Radeon R7 M270
37.752
30.82
17.652
12.22
 229AMD Radeon R7 M265
42
28.7
10.7
7
 233NVIDIA GeForce GT 640M
26.5
 234AMD Radeon R7 (Kaveri)
25.2
21.2
9.3
6
 235AMD Radeon R8 M365DX
33.1
25.5
12.1
 239AMD Radeon R7 M360
32.62
23.92
11.42
7.62
 241*AMD Radeon R7 (Carrizo)
18.952
4.452
5.652
 244AMD Radeon R8 M445DX
40.8
27.8
9.6
 251AMD Radeon R7 M340
19.3
14.2
8.6
4.9
 252NVIDIA GeForce 920M
31.73
26.93
13.53
8.93
 253AMD Radeon R6 M340DX
30.5
20.2
7.2
4.8
 254Intel HD Graphics 530
33.652
21.92
7.62
4.4
 257AMD Radeon R7 M260
30.452
22.952
7.7
Pos      Model                                     Dragon Age: Inquisition
lowmed.highultra
 260AMD Radeon R6 (Carrizo)
17.1
15.8
 291Intel HD Graphics 5600
32.1
20.3
7.2
4.2
 298AMD Radeon R6 M255DX
20
13.9
5.5
3.7
 317AMD Radeon HD 8650G
23.7
16.6
 322NVIDIA GeForce GT 630M
26
17
 325AMD Radeon R5 M335
34.1
22.1
7.3
4.9
 327AMD Radeon R5 M330
27.1
15.9
13.2
 328AMD Radeon R5 M255
17.8
13.3
5
 330NVIDIA GeForce 910M
28.2
20.1
7.2
4.4
 331NVIDIA GeForce 820M
27.4
12
 332Intel HD Graphics 520
22.92
15.32
4.5
2.1
 333Intel Iris Graphics 6100
28.3
19.3
 334NVIDIA GeForce GT 720M
29
18.9
6.8
 336AMD Radeon R5 M240
30.052
19.952
 345Intel HD Graphics 6000
20.9
16.8
6.1
 348Intel Iris Graphics 5100
24.3
17.3
6.3
3.5
 353Intel HD Graphics 4600
22.1
14.5
5.8
3.8
 355Intel HD Graphics 5500
23.43
163
6.63
4.72
 357*Intel HD Graphics 615
17.6
12.2
 366Intel HD Graphics 5000
17.4
12
4.5
2.1
Pos      Model                                     Dragon Age: Inquisition
lowmed.highultra
 398Intel HD Graphics 515
13.5
9.3
 399Intel HD Graphics 4400
15.354
9.54
3.82
1.4
 429Intel HD Graphics 5300
11.452
7.92
3.052
1.6
 430*Intel HD Graphics 505
10.6
7.5
 439Intel HD Graphics 4000
18.5
11.7
 444*Intel HD Graphics (Broadwell)
13.9
9.4
 447AMD Radeon R5 (Beema/Carrizo-L)
15.9
12
 448AMD Radeon R4 (Beema)
14.82
8.82
 450Intel HD Graphics 4200
13.52
8.752
 479AMD Radeon R3 (Mullins/Beema)
15.6
10.4
 497Intel HD Graphics (Braswell)</