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Need for Speed: Rivals Benchmarked

Florian Glaser (translated by Ariana Brodsky), 11/27/2013

Second fiddle. Brace yourselves, PC gamers. Need for Speed: Rivals has a serious shortcoming: It doesn't play perfectly on any PC, not even the most powerful ones. Read about the 30 fps cap and the game's (mobile) hardware requirements here.

Need for Speed: Rivals

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Graphics

There's no hiding the fact that Need for Speed: Rivals (like most games) was developed primarily for consoles. You notice the PC version's defective operation almost immediately. We don't just mean the annoying tutorials for the Racer and Cop campaigns -- those can't be avoided on consoles either… see this YouTube video for a humorous edit -- but more than anything we mean the strange key assignments and (from the point of view of a PC gamer) the uncomfortably-arranged menu. Some gamers will simply shake their heads in disbelief at the fact that to reach the graphics options from the garage, you have to hit either the Page Up or Page Down key twice. Mouse support doesn't seem to have been on the developers' radar.

According to the publisher, Electronic Arts, their goal was to make competition between players fairer (Rivals combines single and multiplayer elements) and not put players with weaker hardware at a disadvantage. But it still eludes us as to why EA didn't cap the frame rate a little higher, and why they had to penalize owners of more potent hardware. Or did the party responsible forget that you can tailor the game's settings to your own hardware?

Need for Speed: Rivals
Need for Speed: Rivals
Need for Speed: Rivals
Need for Speed: Rivals
Need for Speed: Rivals
Need for Speed: Rivals

Apart from a few disconnects, the game's graphics made a good or perhaps even a very good impression on us. In order to offer buyers the best visuals possible, the developer Ghost Games turned to DICE's Frostbite 3 Engine. Compared to Battlefield 4Rivals appears to have both somewhat harder edges (missing anti-aliasing) and to be spongier (no anisotropic filtering, some weaker textures). On the positive side, though, there's a high vegetation density, good lighting, great (weather) effects, and -- one of the trademarks of the series -- snazzy high-class car models. The changeover from day to night is also well-executed, and there's a nice damage model. The graphics aren't the only aspect of the game that has improved -- Rivals' driving experience is also superior (Most Wanted uses the Chameleon Engine).

In terms of sound, there's little to critique about the arcade racer. The roaring motors are accompanied by a dubstep soundtrack. Gamers may not be completely satisfied when they find the graphics menu -- 10 settings options are neither especially many nor especially few. One of the highlights of the graphics menu is Ambient Occlusion (SSAO or HBAO). Fortunately, settings changes are adopted directly within the game, so there's no need to restart.

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

Benchmark

For our benchmark sequence, we chose a race between two safe-houses in the middle of the map (Pacific Woods). The sequence lasts about a minute (as long as you don't crash) and is good for assessing the level of performance to expect from various devices.

As our tests reveal, Rivals only runs normally when the frame rate is exactly 30 fps. A lower frame rate not only causes the image to jerk, but it also causes the game to run more slowly. The exact opposite is true when the fps cap is crossed, which is possible if you take a roundabout approach. Due to the negative consequences of artificially passing the cap, we tested Rivals in its original version without interfering with the game manually.

Results

If you want to enjoy the new Need for Speed title in its full splendor, i.e. at a resolution of 1920x1080 pixels and full details, you'll need a high-end graphics card. The GeForce GTX 765M was the first card to reach 30 fps in our test sequence. For a resolution of 1366x768 pixels and high graphics options, you'll only need a mid-class GPU (for instance the GT 750M).

Low-end models, on the level of the GeForce GT 630M, or CPU accelerators like the Radeon HD 7660G or HD Graphics 4600, break into a sweat even at low details and 1024x768 pixels. The Iris Pro 5200 is the only chip to approach the 30 fps mark here. Depending on the settings, the hardware demands can be even higher in this game than in Battlefield 4.

Need for Speed: Rivals
    1024x768 Low / Off (30 FPS Limit)     1366x768 Medium / Off (30 FPS Limit)     1366x768 High / On / SSAO (30 FPS Limit)     1920x1080 Ultra / On / HBAO (30 FPS Limit)
HD Graphics 4600, 4702MQ
Schenker M503
20.1 (min: 13) fps ∼67%
15.4 (min: 10) fps ∼51%
12.7 (min: 9) fps ∼42%
Radeon HD 7660G, A10-4600M, Samsung SSD 830 Series MZ-7PC0128D/EU
AMD Pumori Platform A10-4600M
21 (min: 16) fps ∼70%
18.6 (min: 14) fps ∼62%
GeForce GT 630M, 3720QM
Asus N56VM
24.4 (min: 15) fps ∼81%
20.4 (min: 10) fps ∼68%
Iris Pro Graphics 5200, 4750HQ, Intel SSD 525 Series SSDMCEAC180B3
Schenker S413
27.5 (min: 20) fps ∼92%
23.5 (min: 16) fps ∼78%
20 (min: 14) fps ∼67%
12.4 (min: 8) fps ∼41%
GeForce GT 750M, 4702MQ
Schenker M503
30 (min: 28) fps ∼100%
30 (min: 28) fps ∼100%
29.9 (min: 27) fps ∼100%
19.2 (min: 16) fps ∼64%
GeForce GTX 765M, 4700MQ
Schenker W503
30 (min: 28) fps ∼100%
30 (min: 28) fps ∼100%
30 (min: 27) fps ∼100%
30 (min: 27) fps ∼100%
Radeon HD 8970M, 4700MQ
Schenker W503
30 (min: 29) fps ∼100%
30 (min: 29) fps ∼100%
30 (min: 29) fps ∼100%
30 (min: 29) fps ∼100%
GeForce GTX 780M, 4700MQ
Schenker W503
30 (min: 29) fps ∼100%
30 (min: 29) fps ∼100%
30 (min: 29) fps ∼100%
30 (min: 29) fps ∼100%
Radeon R9 280X, 3770K
Desktop-PC
30 (min: 29) fps ∼100%
30 (min: 29) fps ∼100%
30 (min: 29) fps ∼100%
30 (min: 29) fps ∼100%
GeForce GTX 680, 2600K, Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256GB MZ7PD256HAFV-0Z000
Desktop GTX 680, Intel Core i7-2600K
30 fps ∼100%
30 fps ∼100%
30 fps ∼100%
30 (min: 28) fps ∼100%

Verdict

With a little more effort, Rivals could have been a great game. The smart combination of single and multiplayer elements adds a good deal of excitement to the gaming experience. That makes the PC version's weaknesses even more frustrating. Better controls and less spoon-feeding/paternalism would have done the game good.

Need for Speed: Rivals
Need for Speed: Rivals
Need for Speed: Rivals

Test Systems

Our three most important 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 & HD Graphics 4600)
  • XMG P502 (Core i7-3610QM, 8 GB DDR3, GeForce GTX 660M, GTX 670MX, GTX 675MX, GTX 680M, Radeon HD 7970M & HD Graphics 4000)

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 331.82 WHQL, AMD 13.11 Beta 9.2, Intel 10.18.10.3345

From left to right: Schenker M503, XMG P502 & W503
From left to right: Schenker M503, XMG P502 & W503

Overview

Discussion
Show Restrictions
Pos      Model                                     Perf. RatingNeed for Speed: Rivals
 Need for Speed: Rivals (2013)
low
1024x768
Low / Off (30 FPS Limit)
med.
1366x768
Medium / Off (30 FPS Limit)
high
1366x768
High / On / SSAO (30 FPS Limit)
ultra
1920x1080
Ultra / On / HBAO (30 FPS Limit)
 26AMD Radeon R9 280X
100
30
30
30
30
 32NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680
100
30
30
30
30
 38AMD Radeon R9 M295X
~10050%
30
30
 49NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M
100
30
30
30
30
 53NVIDIA GeForce GTX 965M
100
30
30
30
30
 57AMD Radeon HD 8970M
100
30
30
30
30
 76NVIDIA GeForce GTX 860M
100
30
30
30
30
 85NVIDIA GeForce GTX 850M
~10075%
30
30
30
 93NVIDIA GeForce GTX 765M
100
30
30
30
30
 122NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760M
99.4
30
30
30
29.3
 130AMD Radeon HD 8870M
83.1
27.3
26.9
25.6
19.9
 147AMD Radeon R9 M265X
92.7
30
30
30
21.2
 158NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M
90.9
30
30
29.9
19.2
 169NVIDIA GeForce 840M
79.3
302
302
23.052
12.1
 171NVIDIA GeForce GT 745M
~96.775%
30
30
27
 175Intel Iris Pro Graphics 5200
69.5
27.5
23.5
20
12.4
 178NVIDIA GeForce GT 740M
80.8
30
29.92
23.92
13.1
 181NVIDIA GeForce 830M
~95.475%
30
30
25.9
 187NVIDIA GeForce GT 735M
~8775%
29.7
27.6
21
Pos      Model                                     Need for Speed: Rivals
lowmed.highultra
 189NVIDIA GeForce 825M
~8775%
30
25.6
22.7
 206AMD Radeon HD 8750M
~91.775%
30
28.8
23.7
 209AMD Radeon R7 M265
~88.675%
30
26.7
23
 234AMD Radeon R7 M260
~81.175%
30
24.2
18.8
 243AMD Radeon HD 8670D
80.6
30
29.2
23.9
13.6
 267AMD Radeon HD 8570D
~78.975%
30
23
18
 269AMD Radeon HD 8650G + HD 8570M Dual Graphics
~57.475%
18.8
18.2
14.7
 272AMD Radeon HD 8670M
~71.550%
23.5
19.4
 292AMD Radeon HD 8650G
~46.725%
14
 297NVIDIA GeForce GT 630M
~78.650%
26.052
21.12
 305NVIDIA GeForce 820M
~72.675%
27.5
21.3
16.5
 308NVIDIA GeForce GT 720M
~69.775%
26.5
20.2
16
 326Intel HD Graphics 4600
~45.975%
17.22
13.42
10.752
 328Intel HD Graphics 5500
~45.850%
16.8
10.7
 334AMD Radeon HD 7660G
~66.850%
21.52
18.6
 370Intel HD Graphics 4400
~49.850%
16.7
13.2
 409Intel HD Graphics 4000
~4225%
12.6
 417Intel HD Graphics 4200
~4725%
14.1
 426AMD Radeon HD 8450G
~63.725%
19.1
 430AMD Radeon HD 8400
~51.725%
15.5
Pos      Model                                     Need for Speed: Rivals
lowmed.highultra
 442AMD Radeon HD 8350G
~51.725%
15.5
 443AMD Radeon HD 8330
~4525%
13.5
 472Intel HD Graphics (Haswell)
~3725%
11.1
 529AMD Radeon HD 8210
~2025%
6
* 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 > Need for Speed: Rivals Benchmarked
Florian Glaser, 2013-11-27 (Update: 2013-12- 2)