Notebookcheck

The Bureau: XCOM Declassified Benchmarked

Florian Glaser (translated by Ariana Brodsky), 08/31/2013

A mix of action and tactics. Can a reworked niche title like The Bureau: XCOM Declassified compete with other PC games? Innumerable reviews have answered this question. We will take a closer look at the game's hardware demands and graphics. Should notebook users be concerned about performance, or can a weaker device handle the game?

The Bureau: XCOM Declassified Logo

For the original German article, see here.

Graphics

A long development and restructuring phase does not seem to have helped 2K Games' ambitious project. Many game reviews not only criticize the second-rate graphics, but also the mediocre AI and the boring, choppy, somewhat annoying game structure.

We enjoyed the first part of The Bureau: XCOM Declassified more than we expected based on the scores awarded by the international community (Metacritic: 67%). The game gained points for us not only for its good 60s scenario, stylistically reminiscent of Mafia 2, L.A. Noire and BioShock, but also for its grippingly staged introduction and interesting gameplay. But we only toured the first level in search of a good benchmark sequence, so we cannot make a conclusive judgement.

The Bureau is based on Epic's Unreal Engine 3, which was expanded for modern effects like ambient occlusion and tesselation. The start options allow you to start the game either in DirectX 11 or in DirectX 9 mode, which owners of older notebooks will be happy to hear. Despite the fact that the game borrows from modern technologies, the graphics are rather antiquated. As we have already seen with the Unreal Engine 3, many textures are spongy and lacking in detail. The good character models (nice facial expressions) and the atmospheric effects (smoke, water, fire, light, particles etc.) can only do so much to make up for this shortcoming. Whether you appreciate the grain filter, which is activated by default, is a matter of taste.

This brings us to our next subject: The graphics menu. For use on a PC, the graphics menu is relatively comprehensive. Alongside global presets (Low, Medium & High), there are also a variety of individual controls that can be set manually. These controls allow the game's performance to be optimized for specific hardware.

2K Games even integrated a PhysX option that is also available on AMD notebooks. A short test with the GeForce GTX 680M and Radeon HD 7970M revealed - unsurprisingly - that AMD loses more speed. While the GTX 680M only lost a few fps (3-7% in our benchmark sequence), the HD 7970M was considerably more bogged down (-2% @ Ultra setting, -36% @ High setting). With this in mind, we decided to deactivate PhysX altogether. Firstly, the comparison is fairer that way. Secondly, the various quality settings scale better.

In general, the engine is not perfect. Problem 1: At high settings, the visual enhancements are not radical enough to make up for the decrease in performance. Problem 2: Depending on the game level, the display refresh rate can fluctuate tremendously. Even high-end notebooks and desktop PCs frequently fall under 30 fps at maximum settings. Problem 3: The current Fraps version 3.5.99 simply refuses to work in DirectX 11 mode. Fraps 3.5.9 does not reveal any irregularities. Problem 4: AMD systems in particular still have to deal with crashes and various bugs.

However, we are pleased that all the options can be adjusted from directly within the game. Only a PhysX change requires a restart. The "Max Smoothed Framerate" proves to be a double-edged sword. Limiting the maximum refresh rate can make the game run more smoothly and reduce noise. On the other hand, the game can only reach a certain cap value in the benchmarks. In order to coax more frames out of the notebooks, we raised the setting from 60 to 120.

Low Settings
Low Settings
Medium Settings
Medium Settings
High Settings (PhysX Off)
High Settings (PhysX Off)
Ultra Settings (PhysX Off)
Ultra Settings (PhysX Off)
Low Settings
Low Settings
Medium Settings
Medium Settings
High Settings (PhysX Off)
High Settings (PhysX Off)
Ultra Settings (PhysX Off)
Ultra Settings (PhysX Off)

Benchmark

As mentioned, our benchmark sequence is in the first chapter, which bears the fitting name: "Invasion!" The about 30-second passage includes tons of effects, from smoke over fire to other particles. The effects make the passage demanding. Because this is a third-person title and the battles can be paused, about 30 fps on average is sufficient to render the game fluidly.

Results

In DirectX 9 mode and at low details, The Bureau is not very demanding at all. Entry-level graphics cards like the Intel HD Graphics 4000 manage about 40 fps at 1024x768 pixels (the HD 3000 cannot run the game at a playable frame rate, unfortunately). Middle class GPUs at the level of the GeForce GT 740M can also handle normal details and 1366x768 pixels in DirectX 11 mode.

Those who want to play XCOM Declassified at high presets should have a high-end model like the GeForce GTX 765M or GTX 670MX at their command. Only expensive luxury cards, like the Radeon HD 8970M or GeForce GTX 780M, can tackle 1920x1080 pixels and all of the settings on maximum.

Speaking of the HD 8970M: With the brand new Catalyst 13.8 Beta2, AMD's top model was slower than the otherwise weaker HD 7970M. A driver downgrade to version 13.4 improved the situation (the same goes for Splinter Cell: Blacklist).

Benchmark Table: The Bureau: XCOM Declassified
Benchmark Table: The Bureau: XCOM Declassified

Verdict

Even if you can argue about its graphics and gaming quality, The Bureau definitely has its appeal. The title is no stock product -- it tries to enrich the PC market with fresh ideas and aims. The rather unflattering reviews show that the project did not quite go as planned. Still, we did notice the genre mix during our benchmark test.

Test Systems

Our four main test devices were 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 Crucial for the 480 GB M500, on which Windows 7 Professional 64-bit is installed.

GPU drivers used: Nvidia 326.80 Beta, AMD 13.8 Beta2 (13.4 @ HD 8970M), Intel 9.17.10.3223 and 9.18.10.3165.

From left to right: Schenker Xesia M501, M503, XMG P502 & W503
From left to right: Schenker Xesia M501, M503, XMG P502 & W503

Overview

Show Restrictions
Pos      Model                                     The Bureau: XCOM Declassified
 The Bureau: XCOM Declassified (2013)
low
1024x768
DX9, Low Preset
med.
1366x768
DX11, Medium Preset
4xAF
high
1366x768
DX11, High (PhysX Off)
16xAF
ultra
1920x1080
DX11, High (PhysX Off)
16xAF
 6NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M SLI
121.4
105.3
64.7
 16NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680
121.8
121.2
91.1
45.4
 17AMD Radeon HD 7970
121.8
121.4
69.9
44.2
 23NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 Ti
121.9
121.2
66.3
34.8
 25NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M
121.7
120.7
60
35.2
 29NVIDIA GeForce GTX 870M
120
118
65
36
 31AMD Radeon HD 8970M
119.8
119.7
63.2
32.4
 35NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680M
121.7
116.4
59.9
30.2
 38AMD Radeon HD 7970M
121.7
112.9
55
26.8
 45NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770M
121.7
105.3
40.6
24.3
 46NVIDIA GeForce GTX 860M
97.1
58.4
40.6
 53NVIDIA GeForce GTX 675MX
121.7
91.1
41.5
25.7
 55NVIDIA GeForce GTX 850M
100.5
71.452
43.952
322
 60NVIDIA GeForce GTX 765M
119.6
84.7
39.52
23.952
 69AMD Radeon HD 7770
118.6
57.9
24.6
14.9
 78NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670MX
119.6
84.4
33.8
17.4
 80NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760M
107.1
65.3
39.2
28.4
 86AMD Radeon HD 8870M
60.8
30
15.7
 100NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660M
105.4
57.1
24.8
14.8
Pos      Model                                     The Bureau: XCOM Declassified
lowmed.highultra
 102AMD Radeon HD 8850M
39.8
27.8
20.8
 111NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M
77.3
52.2
21
10.8
 113NVIDIA GeForce 840M
48.952
42.52
27.652
7.4
 116NVIDIA GeForce GT 745M
59.58
49.05
20.91
11.18
 120Intel Iris Pro Graphics 5200
60.6
39.6
25.2
14.6
 122NVIDIA GeForce GT 740M
43.1
32.4
14.4
 123NVIDIA GeForce 830M
45.7
39.7
26.9
 127NVIDIA GeForce GT 735M
37.9
33.3
21.1
 129NVIDIA GeForce 825M
39.4
34.2
22.7
 140AMD Radeon HD 8550G + HD 8750M Dual Graphics
46.4
29.1
20.3
 141NVIDIA GeForce GT 730M
39.952
31.62
23.552
15.2
 145AMD Radeon HD 8750M
49.9
33.1
22.4
12.5
 147AMD Radeon R7 M265
49.1
30.4
20.9
 152NVIDIA GeForce GT 640M
67.7
39.7
18.4
10.1
 173AMD Radeon HD 8670D
55
26
11
7
 177AMD Radeon R6 (Kaveri)
19.8
13.1
9.1
 196AMD Radeon HD 8570D
48
26.6
11.5
6.4
 197AMD Radeon HD 8650G + HD 8670M Dual Graphics
27.4
19
13
 198AMD Radeon HD 8650G + HD 8570M Dual Graphics
31.6
22.7
13.6
8.8
 200AMD Radeon HD 8550G + HD 8670M Dual Graphics
24.2
15.9
7.4
Pos      Model                                     The Bureau: XCOM Declassified
lowmed.highultra
 201AMD Radeon HD 8670M
28.2
17.1
 203AMD Radeon HD 7660D
49
28.4
11.7
6.6
 221AMD Radeon HD 8650G
29.5
19.6
12.9
 226NVIDIA GeForce GT 630M
48.7
25.7
11.3
6.6
 227AMD Radeon HD 7560D
47.9
21.1
13.2
9.4
 230*AMD Radeon R5 (Kaveri)
19.6
11.2
8.6
 231NVIDIA GeForce 820M
35.3
29.1
20.2
 233NVIDIA GeForce GT 720M
32.1
26.1
11
 235Intel Iris Graphics 5100
31.6
20.8
12.1
6.6
 236AMD Radeon R5 M230
27
18.4
15.1
 247Intel HD Graphics 4600
39.8
17.1
9.7
6.6
 252AMD Radeon HD 7660G
39.4
18.4
7.8
5
 280AMD Radeon HD 7610M
34
19
9
5
 282AMD Radeon HD 8470D
31
20.5
9
 286Intel HD Graphics 4400
16.4
10.8
 323AMD Radeon HD 7480D
29.4
15.1
7.1
4.2
 324Intel HD Graphics 4000
38.2
16.4
8.9
5.9
 327AMD Radeon R5 (Beema)
19.1
12.4
8.8
 328*AMD Radeon R4 (Beema)
19.3
11.7
8.3
 329Intel HD Graphics 4200
11.9
8.2
6.6
Pos      Model                                     The Bureau: XCOM Declassified
lowmed.highultra
 337AMD Radeon HD 8450G
19.7
11.9
7.7
 341AMD Radeon HD 8400
18.4
10.8
 353AMD Radeon HD 8330
16.5
10.3
 381Intel HD Graphics (Haswell)
15.9
8.9
 401AMD Radeon HD 8280
14.4
9
 411AMD Radeon HD 8250
12.37
7.43
3.29
 418Intel HD Graphics 3000
18.12
 436AMD Radeon HD 8210
9.9
 478Intel HD Graphics (Bay Trail)
10.2
6.1
* 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 > The Bureau: XCOM Declassified Benchmarked
Author: Florian Glaser, 2013-08-31 (Update: 2013-09- 3)