F1 2013 Benchmarked
Top speed. Codemasters once again invites motor sport fans to the Formula 1 circus. The 2013 edition's highlight is the brand new “Classic Mode”. Did the developers make some modifications to the graphics too? Have the hardware demands changed? Our review reveals the answers.
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What do F1 2013 and the recently released Fifa 14 have in common? Answer: In terms of graphics, little has changed since last year's editions. The EGO engine developed by Codemasters does score points for its highly detailed Formula 1 race cars that realistically reflect objects in their environment, but the race track's surroundings still fail to impress.
Despite the vast audiences swarming the bleachers, the Formula 1 courses feel rather empty. That stems partly from the dearth of animated objects and partly from the fact that the textures no longer meet our expectations for a 2013 video game. Other games like Hitman: Absolution or Metro: Last Light are examples of what is theoretically possible nowadays. But for a racing title, F1 2013 still looks good.
We do want to praise Codemasters for the game's graphics settings in particular. Alongside five well-measured presets, there are numerous specific controls in the “Options” menu (“My F1”, “Settings”, “Graphics”) that allow the user to make changes to individual aspects of the graphics. The gamma value, resolution, aspect ratio and frame rate can also be altered.
Players who don't mind a 60 FPS limit should definitely activate vertical synchronization to prevent screen tearing. F1 2013 offers the anti-aliasing options MSAA and EQAA. Excellent: The game adopts all changes without requiring a restart.
As our screenshots reveal, the lowest preset should be avoided at all costs. The lack of audience and weak shadows do considerable damage to the atmosphere. From the medium setting on up, the title looks relatively good, though when anti-aliasing is deactivated some jaggies do show up. Graphics improvements on the high and ultra high settings often require closer observation to detect.
We based our speed measurements on the integrated benchmark hidden near the bottom of the graphics menu. Because the test course is identical to last year's, it's quite easy to compare this game's performance to that of its predecessor.
The game simulates about two minutes of racing, in which more than 20 high-class race cars puff exhaust through a detailed course. After the sequence, the benchmark reveals the minimum and average frame rate, as well as the total frames. We think it's a bit of a shame, though, that F1 2013 is not capable of measuring anything less than 12 fps (GRID 2 has a similar problem).
Surprising: Depending on a computer's hardware and driver version, F1 2013 runs more fluidly than last year's. While Intel's HD Graphics 3000 has trouble even at minimum settings (34 fps @ 1024 x 768, Ultra Low), the newer HD Graphics 4000 and 4600 can even handle medium details and 1366 x 768 pixels (over 40 and 50 fps, respectively).
For high details and 2x anti-aliasing, we recommend a model from the lower middle class (ex. the GeForce GT 630M). Maximum details, 4x MSAA and 1920 x 1080 pixels are not too much for a GeForce GTX 660M to handle.
As we have recently seen more and more often, at moderate graphics settings the influence of the CPU becomes much greater. This phenomenon is especially apparent when you look at the Radeon HD 7770 and HD 7660G. These GPUs should be slower than the GTX 780M and GT 630M, respectively.
In case you are wondering about the HD 7970M and HD 8970M results: As was also true of the 2012 F1 release, this game has problems on some AMD notebooks. According to Task Manager, the .exe file started running, but the game refused to open. We assume that future drivers will solve this problem.
With or without the “classic mode”, F1 2013 doesn't quite feel like a brand new Formula 1 game. It seems the developers only made the updates necessary to justify the release of a new edition. Graphics enthusiasts will be frustrated with the stagnating graphics quality. With the next generation of gaming consoles on their way to the market, there is no reason not to massively improve the engine in time for next year's eventual F1 title.
Our four main test devices are courtesy of Schenker Technologies (mysn.de):
- W503 (Core i7-4700MQ, 8 GB DDR3, GeForce GTX 765M, GTX 770M, GTX 780M, Radeon HD 8970M & HD Graphics 4600)
- M503 (Core i7-4702MQ, 8 GB DDR3, GeForce GT 750M)
- XMG P502 (Core i7-3610QM, 8 GB DDR3, GeForce GTX 660M, GTX 670MX, GTX 675MX, GTX 680M, Radeon HD 7970M & HD Graphics 4000)
- Xesia M501 (Core i7-2630QM, 8 GB DDR3, GeForce GT 630M & HD Graphics 3000)
A further thank you goes to Micron for providing the 480 GB Crucial M500, on which Windows 7 Professional 64 Bit is installed.
GPU drivers used: Nvidia 331.40 Beta, AMD 13.10 Beta 2, Intel 22.214.171.12457 and 126.96.36.19923