The Elder Scrolls Online Benchmarked

Florian Glaser (translated by Ariana Brodsky), 04/16/2014

Big, bigger, TESO. As one of the last publishers to do so, Bethesda Softworks tries an MMORPG by subscription. The Elder Scrolls Online (TESO) is intended to piggyback off of the success of competitors in its genre, like Guild Wars 2 and World of WarCraft. You will encounter hardly any new technological advances, but the title scores points for its visually appealing and interesting world. Our article primarily deals with the new game's hardware demands.

The Elder Scrolls Online

For the original German article, see here.

Graphics

For an MMO game, the underlying graphics are completely respectable, though you cannot expect anything visually stunning to unfold on the screen. In terms of facets of the game that are well-done, we certainly deem the detailed character models and expansive landscapes worth mentioning. The landscapes are covered with loads of flora and fauna. However, you should not look too closely at the objects, as many of the textures appear spongy up close. But to some extent, the nice light/color moods and the well-executed art design make up for this shortcoming.

As per usual with MMORPGs, some passages could be livelier. Here and there, Tamriel seems a little sterile. But to be fair, making such a big world diverse and thrilling in every way is not exactly easy.

The Elder Scrolls Online
The Elder Scrolls Online
The Elder Scrolls Online
The Elder Scrolls Online
The Elder Scrolls Online
The Elder Scrolls Online

In terms of gameplay, we think TESO deserves a good grade. Granted, fights from the point of view of the player are not perfectly rendered (not enough feedback when the target is hit, unclean collision detection), but the controls work fluidly and comfortably. Especially considering earlier versions of the Elder Scrolls, the menus are relatively well-designed. Also, the background music is decent. Thanks to the professional (English) speakers, the dialog (set to music) fosters an enjoyable atmosphere.

The basic principle is more or less a matter of taste. As we know from prior titles in the Elder Scrolls line, after the tutorial, the character is thrown seemingly aimlessly into the world and receives hardly any guidance. Which is to say: You have to work out a lot of things for yourself and plumb the mysteries of the continent on your own. While player X may love this, player Y may feel somewhat lost. To understand the world more easily, it is better to have some prior experience with the series.

The Elder Scrolls Online
The Elder Scrolls Online
The Elder Scrolls Online
The Elder Scrolls Online
The Elder Scrolls Online
The Elder Scrolls Online

The ZeniMax Online Studios deserve high praise for the comprehensive video menu with about 20 different options. Alongside the standard repertoire like resolution, picture mode and gamma value, you can also change many graphics details here (texture quality, shadows, water reflections, etc.) The five presets are especially practical ("Minimum," "Low," "Medium," "High" and "Ultra High") and allow you to adjust all the settings at once quickly and easily -- which is important, because depending on the scene, the presets can behave massively differently.

Minimum and low details prove to be so ugly that no one would use them voluntarily. That is to say nothing of the objects that just suddenly appear out of nowhere. Starting at the medium settings, things start to look nicer and act more normally, and at high details the game's visuals and behavior are both quite good. However, it should be mentioned that the highest preset does not set all the menu items to their maximum values (the range of vision, for instance, is set to just 62 of 100%). But simply because it is easier, we used the automatic levels anyway. Great: It is possible to change to the settings directly inside the game, though TESO has to reload the content.

Low Preset
Low Preset
Medium Preset
Medium Preset
High Preset
High Preset
Ultra High Preset
Ultra High Preset
Low Preset
Low Preset
Medium Preset
Medium Preset
High Preset
High Preset
Ultra High Preset
Ultra High Preset

Benchmark

Depending on the environment, the frame rate fluctuates greatly. While there are seldom problems indoors, on busy streets the performance can drop. For this reason, our benchmark takes place in a city. Thanks to the numerous buildings, other players and plants, Vulkhel Guard, in which you start on the side of the Aldmeri faction (on the island of Auridon), is well-suited for our performance measurements.

As you can gather from our video below, we ran down a specific route -- about 35 seconds forward and 35 seconds back. Despite the fluctuations typical of online games (other characters hop around on the screen, etc.), the sequence delivers rather constant results. That is, at least, when the time of day remains the same. Depending on the lighting, the frame rate varies somewhat. The numbers listed originated in the morning, afternoon or evening, but never night (in comparison with reality, the passing of a day is accelerated many times over).

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

In case you are wondering why some more potent GPUs come in behind their allegedly weaker relatives: At moderate graphics options, the performance is highly dependent on the processor. The fact that AMD processors tend to do worse (example: Radeon R9 280X vs. GeForce GTX 660 Ti) can be traced back to the membership in Nvidia's TWIMTBP program, among other things. Certainly, the brand new "wonder driver" 337.50 does not do the GeForce models any harm either.

Results

The hardware demands are surprisingly low. For medium details and 1366x768 pixels, a low-end chip will suffice, like the HD Graphics 4600 integrated into Haswell processors. The high preset is fueled by just an inexpensive all-round model -- the GeForce GT 740M was granted an average of over 30 fps (1366x768).

Maximum details and 1920x1080 pixels demand quite a bit more of the hardware components, but more than a GeForce GTX 850M or GeForce GTX 765M is not imperative. Thus: The engine seems to be extremely well-optimized.

The Elder Scrolls Online
    1024x768 Low Preset AA:Off     1366x768 Medium Preset AA:Off     1366x768 High Preset AA:On     1920x1080 Ultra High Preset AA:On

Processor Influence

As mentioned, The Elder Scrolls Online definitely profits from a strong CPU. In our test, we used a fast Nvidia GeForce GTX 680 desktop graphics card and paired it with three different processors. The Cinebench R15 benchmark illustrates the comparison between the processors' pure computational performance. You can also see clearly from the diagram that the GTX 680 profits from a strong CPU. But with the 2600K, the test system already reaches the maximum of 100 fps at the "High" settings.

Test Systems

Four of our test devices are courtesy of Schenker Technologies (mysn.de):

  • W504 (Core i7-4700MQ, 8 GB DDR3, GeForce GTX 860M, GTX 870M, GTX 880M)
  • W503 (Core i7-4700MQ, 8 GB DDR3, GeForce GTX 765M, GTX 770M, GTX 780M, Radeon HD 8970M)
  • M504 (Core i5-4340M, 8 GB DDR3, GeForce GTX 850M)
  • M503 (Core i7-4702MQ, 8 GB DDR3, GeForce GT 750M)

The 64-bit edition of Windows 7 is installed on each of these notebooks. Thank you to Micron for the 480 GB Crucial M500.

Another test device is courtesy of Nvidia:

  • HP Envy 15-j011sg (Core i5-4200M, 12 GB DDR3, GeForce GT 740M)

GPU drivers used: Nvidia 337.50 Beta, AMD 14.3 Beta 1.0, Intel 10.18.10.3496

In addition there are benchmarks from other notebooks (possibly with different drivers).

Schenker M503/M504, Schenker W503/W504
Schenker M503/M504, Schenker W503/W504
HP Envy 15
HP Envy 15

Overview

Show Restrictions
Pos      Model                                     The Elder Scrolls Online
 The Elder Scrolls Online (2014)
low
1024x768
Low Preset
Off AA
med.
1366x768
Medium Preset
Off AA
high
1366x768
High Preset
On AA
ultra
1920x1080
Ultra High Preset
On AA
 1NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti
98.2
95.7
90.1
58.6
 8AMD Radeon R9 290X
67.52
413
 9AMD Radeon R9 280X
97.4
94
84.1
53.7
 11NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680
99
98
95
71.5
 15NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760
98.9
97.9
94.8
65.1
 16NVIDIA GeForce GTX 880M
92.5
87.1
76
57.5
 17NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 Ti
98.4
94
85.7
67.4
 19NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M
84.4
78.3
69.4
50.6
 24AMD Radeon HD 8970M
82.2
74.2
63.4
42.9
 25NVIDIA GeForce GTX 870M
93.7
84.5
61.452
45.452
 33NVIDIA GeForce GTX 750 Ti
99.1
97.1
85.1
44
 38NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770M
90.6
83.2
70.9
42.6
 39NVIDIA GeForce GTX 860M
88.72
81.452
70.72
40.252
 49NVIDIA GeForce GTX 850M
86.24
76.554
65.35
37.15
 54NVIDIA GeForce GTX 765M
84.9
81.6
66.6
35.7
 95AMD Radeon HD 8850M
44.4
33.4
27.9
17.2
 104NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M
82.3
66.4
46.8
22.6
 106NVIDIA GeForce 840M
67.53
47.23
34.23
17.72
 111AMD Radeon R7 in A10-7850K APU (Kaveri)
60
46
29.9
15.4
Pos      Model                                     The Elder Scrolls Online
lowmed.highultra
 112Intel Iris Pro Graphics 5200
66
43
32
16.6
 115NVIDIA GeForce GT 740M
81.1
51
33.9
15.8
 133NVIDIA GeForce GT 730M
79.4
41.8
24.6
 139AMD Radeon R7 M265
61.92
41.452
27.152
7.3
 143NVIDIA GeForce GT 640M
56
45
32.4
17.7
 208AMD Radeon HD 8650G
45
32
21
10.9
 213NVIDIA GeForce GT 630M
68
37.5
26.2
13.7
 214AMD Radeon HD 7560D
58
35
21.3
10.8
 218NVIDIA GeForce 820M
58.6
34
25.2
 220NVIDIA GeForce GT 720M
74.4
37.9
21.4
 222Intel Iris Graphics 5100
46
26.6
18.4
10.1
 223AMD Radeon R5 M230
54.42
28.32
13.82
5.6
 234Intel HD Graphics 4600
58.852
26.552
16.452
9.3
 239AMD Radeon HD 7660G
40
28.9
19.1
10.3
 258AMD Radeon HD 8550G
36
28
18.2
9.7
 270Intel HD Graphics 4400
38.1
20.6
12.4
 307Intel HD Graphics 4000
40
23.1
13.9
7.2
 310AMD Radeon R5 (Beema)
32.1
17.4
9.5
3.7
 312Intel HD Graphics 4200
43.1
23.4
15
 320AMD Radeon HD 8450G
39
25.8
15.3
Pos      Model                                     The Elder Scrolls Online
lowmed.highultra
 324AMD Radeon HD 8400
28.2
16.8
9
 335AMD Radeon HD 8350G
37
22.2
12.3
 336AMD Radeon HD 8330
24.8
15.2
7.8
 361Intel HD Graphics (Haswell)
35.2
13.6
9
 398Intel HD Graphics 3000
22.5
14.8
 417AMD Radeon HD 8210
17.1
 421Intel HD Graphics (Ivy Bridge)
34.5
14.3
8.6
 459Intel HD Graphics (Bay Trail)
25.2
9.2
* 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 Elder Scrolls Online Benchmarked
Author: Florian Glaser, 2014-04-16 (Update: 2014-04-16)