Notebookcheck

Thief Benchmarked

Florian Glaser (translated by Ariana Brodsky), 03/09/2014

Treading quietly. The underrepresented stealth-adventure genre gets a fresh wind with the new Thief game. This article will not cover whether the series-reboot attains to the quality of its predecessor. Instead, we will investigate how much performance the title demands of a variety of hardware components. Will owners of weaker notebooks be able to enjoy this game?

Thief

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Graphics

Like many new releases, Thief is based on a highly modified version of the Unreal Engine 3. Although the developers implemented a ton of new, hot features (parallax occlusion mapping, tessellation, etc.), in some ways the graphics are lacking. While the lighting, shadows and many of the surface structures meet today's standards, other elements (faces, for example) seem a little outdated. Despite several weaknesses, however, overall the graphics quality falls somewhere between solid and good. Most stealth fans will be satisfied here.

In terms of atmosphere, there is little to critique. With the exception of a few dreary passages, the game world fits together coherently. The aura is sometimes reminiscent of the 2012 release of Dishonored. Thanks to the protagonist's visible arms and legs, the player gets a thrilling sense of being "in" the game.

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

We would like to give special recognition to Nixxes, who took care of the PC version of this game. The Dutch company has already drawn attention to themselves in the past for how well they port software across platforms (ex. Tomb Raider, Hitman: Absolution and Deus Ex: Human Revolution). They are not known necessarily for their graphics conversion itself, but more for their commitment to promoting ease of use and implementing a wide range of settings options (much better than a console port).

The user-friendly graphics menu, which is accessible even outside of the game, reveals a variety of options. Firstly, there is a "Display" tab with settings for resolution, picture mode, frame rate, vertical sychronization and the optional 3D mode. But there are even more options under the "Graphics" tab. Along with the FXAA anti-aliasing mode, Thief also supports the high-class SSAA. The five presets ("Very Low" to "Very High") prove to be very practical and allow the user to change the overall graphics quality quickly and easily. We used these presets in our tests.

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

We also applaud the developers for the integrated benchmark as well. The sequence, which lasts about a minute, shows a city street lined with dozens of passers-by and sparkling with effects. Graphically, this sequence is quite demanding (see video). As far as we can tell from the time we spent in the game itself, inside the campaign the game generally runs more smoothly. Bearing that in mind, our benchmark result of about 25 fps suggests that the title runs at a reasonably playable speed. It is a shame, however, that the numbers do not quite remain constant. As we repeated the test, the results tended to vary by a few fps (especially the minimum fps).

In contrast to other titles like Total War: Rome II, the visuals can only be scaled back to a limited extent. Pro: Even at low settings, Thief does not look ugly. Con: Because there are no giant improvements in performance when the graphics quality is reduced, weaker systems will quickly reach their limits. Independent of all this, the engine is well-developed. In our benchmark test, we only ran into one serious problem (an incorrect start with the Radeon R9 280X). When we ran the title on Intel GPUs, some textures were wrong, loaded too late or did not load at all, but it is possible that the problem had to do with the driver and not the game itself.

Results

From the perspective of a notebook user, the title's hardware demands are not exactly low. While mid-class GPUs, like the GeForce GT 740M, can still run the game fluidly on the "Very Low" preset (~30 fps), the popular HD Graphics 4000 and 4600 Intel chips only manage about 20 fps in the integrated benchmark. At that frame rate, the game is just barely playable, but it will not be much fun.

For 1366 x 768 pixels and the "Normal" preset, you will need at least an upper middle class graphics card. The GeForce GT 750M is the first card to run the game at these settings with over 25 fps. If you want to play Thief at high settings, you will need nothing less than a bona fide high-end GPU. Even at a moderate resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels, the game will only run smoothly on a GeForce GTX 660M or higher. Only owners of expensive gaming notebooks will be able to enjoy the game's graphics in their full splendor. Only top models, like the GeForce GTX 770M or the Radeon HD 8970M, do well at 1920 x 1080 pixels and the "Very High" preset.

Maximum details...
Maximum details...
...with full anti-aliasing...
...with full anti-aliasing...
...and high texture filtering
...and high texture filtering

Because Thief is part of the Gaming Evolved program, it is not surprising that AMD graphics cards tend to achieve better results than their Nvidia counterparts. Need an example? The Radeon R9 280X desktop model comes in substantially ahead of the GeForce GTX 660 Ti in the "Ultra" setting, even though the Nvidia GPU almost never runs more slowly than the AMD card in other games.

Additionally, strong GPUs prove that Thief can be limited by the processor. If you only look at the "Very Low" preset, there is hardly a difference between many of the high-end models (with identical CPUs). In the next few weeks, a patch should be released to give Thief support for AMD's Mantle technology. Future results will only be comparable to a limited extent.

Note: As we unfortunately only noticed after we finished our benchmark tests, the game runs faster by a few percentage points when "Exclusive Fullscreen" is activated.

Thief
    1024x768 Very Low Preset     1366x768 Normal Preset AA:FX     1366x768 High Preset AA:FXAA & Low SS AF:4x     1920x1080 Very High Preset AA:FXAA & High SS AF:8x
Radeon R9 280X, 3770K
Desktop-PC
69.4 fps ∼50%
67.4 fps ∼50%
65.6 fps ∼50%
53.4 fps ∼47%
GeForce GTX 680, 2600K, Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256GB MZ7PD256HAFV-0Z000
Desktop GTX 680, Intel Core i7-2600K
75.5 (min: 49) fps ∼54%
71.8 (min: 48) fps ∼54%
69.3 (min: 35) fps ∼53%
49.3 (min: 22.4) fps ∼43%
GeForce GTX 660 Ti, 3770K
Desktop-PC
72.5 fps ∼52%
66.7 fps ∼50%
64.8 fps ∼49%
40.9 fps ∼36%
GeForce GTX 780M, 4700MQ
Schenker W503
58.7 fps ∼42%
56.7 fps ∼42%
56.5 fps ∼43%
40.2 fps ∼35%
Radeon HD 8970M, 4700MQ
Schenker W503
55.1 fps ∼40%
50.9 fps ∼38%
49.9 fps ∼38%
35.9 fps ∼32%
Radeon HD 7970M, 3610QM
Schenker XMG P502
49.5 fps ∼36%
45.3 fps ∼34%
44.6 fps ∼34%
33.5 fps ∼29%
GeForce GTX 680M, 3610QM
Schenker XMG P502
56.3 fps ∼41%
54 fps ∼40%
51 fps ∼39%
31.3 fps ∼28%
GeForce GTX 770M, 4700MQ
Schenker W503
57.1 fps ∼41%
51.3 fps ∼38%
46.8 fps ∼36%
26.6 fps ∼23%
GeForce GTX 675MX, 3610QM
Schenker XMG P502
55 fps ∼40%
46.6 fps ∼35%
41 fps ∼31%
23.4 fps ∼21%
GeForce GTX 765M, 4700MQ
Schenker W503
58.2 fps ∼42%
43.1 fps ∼32%
37 fps ∼28%
19.1 fps ∼17%
GeForce GTX 670MX, 3610QM
Schenker XMG P502
54.6 fps ∼39%
39.7 fps ∼30%
34.4 fps ∼26%
18.5 fps ∼16%
GeForce GTX 660M, 3610QM
Schenker XMG P502
46 fps ∼33%
30.7 fps ∼23%
26.4 fps ∼20%
13 fps ∼11%
GeForce GT 750M, 4702MQ
Schenker M503
40 fps ∼29%
25.7 fps ∼19%
21.5 fps ∼16%
10.5 fps ∼9%
Iris Pro Graphics 5200, 4750HQ, Intel SSD 525 Series SSDMCEAC180B3
Schenker S413
30.7 (min: 21) fps ∼22%
20.4 (min: 8.4) fps ∼15%
16 (min: 0.9) fps ∼12%
7.4 (min: 1) fps ∼7%
GeForce GT 740M, 4200M
HP Envy 15-j011sg
29 fps ∼21%
17.5 fps ∼13%
13.9 fps ∼11%
6.6 fps ∼6%
HD Graphics 4600, 4700MQ
Schenker W503
21.3 fps ∼15%
12.2 fps ∼9%
9.9 fps ∼8%
4.8 fps ∼4%
HD Graphics 4000, 3610QM
Schenker XMG P502
19 fps ∼14%
10.9 fps ∼8%
8.8 fps ∼7%
4.3 fps ∼4%

Test Systems

Three of our test systems 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)

The 64-bit edition of Windows 7 is installed on each of these notebooks. We thank 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 & HD Graphics 4600)

Intel provided us with the following notebook:

  • Schenker S413 (Intel Core i7-4750HQ, 8 GB RAM, Intel Iris Pro Graphics 5200 GT3) 

GPU drivers used: Nvidia 334.89, AMD 14.2 Beta 1.3, Intel 10.18.10.3412

Benchmark results from changing notebooks (possibly with other drivers) to follow.

From left to right: Schenker M503, XMG P502 & W503
From left to right: Schenker M503, XMG P502 & W503
HP Envy 15-j011sg
HP Envy 15-j011sg

Overview

Discussion
Show Restrictions
Pos      Model                                     Perf. RatingThief
 Thief (2014)
low
1024x768
Very Low Preset
med.
1366x768
Normal Preset
FXAA
high
1366x768
High Preset
4xAF FXAA & Low SSAA
ultra
1920x1080
Very High Preset
8xAF FXAA & High SSAA
 2NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 SLI (Notebook)
98
131.9
130.8
130.3
113.8
 5NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M SLI
94.2
138.9
133.5
120.63
96.53
 7NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980
72.8
101.6
98.6
98
79.1
 8NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 (Notebook)
85.6
123.92
1202
116.83
84.64
 10AMD Radeon R9 390X
64.4
87.3
86.7
86.9
72.6
 11NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M SLI
84.1
125.5
119.7
106.82
85.32
 12NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti
71.2
98.2
96.3
97.8
76.8
 13NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970
86.5
131
126.9
121.6
73
 15NVIDIA GeForce GTX 880M SLI
54.7
76.2
73.3
70
63.6
 17AMD Radeon R9 290X
52.6
63
70
743
643
 19NVIDIA GeForce GTX 965M SLI
~58.750%
84.7
60.1
 20AMD Radeon R9 M290X Crossfire
43.9
60.3
57.3
57
52.1
 24NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M
67.5
101.84
95.35
93.4518
61.8518
 25NVIDIA Quadro M5000M
72.4
107.82
101.652
96.72
70.752
 26AMD Radeon R9 280X
49.3
69.4
67.4
65.6
53.4
 27AMD Radeon R9 380
56.8
87.3
77.8
76.5
54.6
 28NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960
66.9
108.6
100.9
91
50.6
 29NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M
54.5
815
78.758
77.321
47.821
 31NVIDIA GeForce GTX 860M SLI
47.3
75.5
67.5
64.2
40.4
Pos      Model                                     Thief
lowmed.highultra
 32NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680
51.1
75.5
71.8
69.3
49.3
 38AMD Radeon R9 M295X
35.9
51.2
52.7
51.3
32.2
 40*AMD FirePro W7170M
41.5
62
57
57
40
 42AMD Radeon R7 370
49.2
77.8
71.6
68.2
40.2
 44NVIDIA GeForce GTX 880M
43
62.63
62.33
595
40.35
 45NVIDIA GeForce GTX 950
58.8
101.9
89.2
78.4
40.4
 47NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 Ti
46.9
72.5
66.7
64.8
40.9
 48NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760
53.1
97.7
75.5
67.3
39.2
 49NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M
40.8
58.7
56.7
56.5
40.2
 50NVIDIA Quadro K5100M
39.2
57.4
50.7
49.6
45.4
 53NVIDIA GeForce GTX 965M
50.6
89.85
76.356
65.556
34.856
 54*NVIDIA Quadro M3000M
~54.475%
88.6
77.4
43.1
 55NVIDIA GeForce GTX 870M
35.4
54.12
50.552
48.23
31.93
 56AMD Radeon R9 M290X
34.3
51.1
48
45.3
34
 57AMD Radeon HD 8970M
36.8
55.1
50.9
49.9
35.9
 61NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680M
36.8
56.3
54
51
31.3
 64AMD FirePro M6100
40
68
62
54
26.6
 65AMD Radeon HD 7970M
33.2
49.5
45.3
44.6
33.5
 66*AMD Radeon R9 M390
49.5
93
72
63
32.952
 67NVIDIA GeForce GTX 750 Ti
44.6
91.9
63.2
53.4
27.6
Pos      Model                                     Thief
lowmed.highultra
 71NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M
41.8
74.5512
63.718
54.0530
27.930
 72*NVIDIA Quadro M2000M
39
692
58.42
513
27.13
 74NVIDIA Quadro K4100M
38.8
82
52
45
26
 75NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770M
34.6
57.1
51.3
46.8
26.6
 76NVIDIA GeForce GTX 860M
33.6
58.47
50.49
43.8514
2414
 82NVIDIA GeForce GTX 675MX
31.6
55
46.6
41
23.4
 84NVIDIA GeForce GTX 950M
33
64.254
49.57
417
206
 85NVIDIA GeForce GTX 850M
25.8
46.458
37.6510
33.711
18.111
 86NVIDIA Quadro M1000M
37.6
78
53
45
23
 87AMD Radeon R9 M280X
14.7
24
16.7
22.3
13.8
 92NVIDIA GeForce 945M
32.3
71
44.7
37
18.5
 93NVIDIA GeForce GTX 765M
29.8
58.2
43.1
37
19.1
 99*Intel Iris Pro Graphics 580
21
43.8
30.1
25
12.4
 104*AMD Radeon R9 M385X
16.7
25
19.5
22.8
19.2
 117NVIDIA Quadro K3100M
29.1
61.42
39.62
33.452
19.252
 119AMD Radeon R9 M370X
26.1
53.7
35.5
31.6
17.2
 120NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670MX
27.9
54.6
39.7
34.4
18.5
 123AMD Radeon R9 M275
15
26.8
22.6
19.3
10.5
 125*NVIDIA GeForce 940MX
17.4
37.5
24.8
20
9.9
 126NVIDIA Maxwell GPU Surface Book (940M, GDDR5)
19.8
45.6
28.2
22.3
9.4
Pos      Model                                     Thief
lowmed.highultra
 135AMD FirePro M5100
18.1
33.4
23
20
18
 136NVIDIA Quadro K2100M
18.6
36
26.5
23.2
12.5
 143NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660M
21.9
46
30.7
26.4
13
 144NVIDIA GeForce 845M
14.5
31.3
20.1
17.3
8.3
 145AMD Radeon HD 8850M
15.4
27.1
22.5
19.7
11.5
 147AMD Radeon R9 M265X
20.6
41.42
29.44
25.354
12.84
 158NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M
18.4
40
25.7
21.5
10.5
 160NVIDIA Quadro K1100M
14.7
32
20
17
9
 161NVIDIA GeForce 940M
17.3
38.25
24.156
19.85
9.754
 162AMD Radeon R9 M375
~17.175%
27
22.7
19.4
 165AMD Radeon R7 M370
14.2
27.22
19.62
17.52
10.62
 168NVIDIA Quadro K620M
13.3
21
26
13
10
 169NVIDIA GeForce 840M
16
33.815
23.214
18.6514
9.112
 170AMD Radeon R7 M275DX
12.6
24.152
18.12
15.22
8.952
 171NVIDIA GeForce GT 745M
14.1
27.9
19.9
17.1
9.5
 174AMD Radeon R7 512 Cores (Kaveri Desktop)
15.3
33.2
22
17.5
8.3
 175Intel Iris Pro Graphics 5200
14
33.42
21.352
16.62
3.72
 176*AMD Radeon R7 (Carrizo)
7.7
143
11.83
103
52
 177AMD Radeon R7 384 Cores (Kaveri Desktop)
14.7
33.42
20.752
15.852
8.22
 178NVIDIA GeForce GT 740M
11.5
25.952
15.92
12.82
6.6
Pos      Model                                     Thief
lowmed.highultra
 179NVIDIA GeForce 930M
~19.975%
37.552
24.252
19.052
 180*Intel Iris Graphics 550
~14.675%
25.4
21.1
10
 181NVIDIA GeForce 830M
~16.275%
29.7
19.9
16.3
 182Intel Iris Graphics 540
~1375%
23.3
15.7
13.7
 183*NVIDIA Quadro M500M
16.2
34.352
23.152
18.852
9.42
 187NVIDIA GeForce GT 735M
~12.775%
25.1
14.7
11.9
 189NVIDIA GeForce 825M
~13.375%
26.2
15.5
12.4
 198AMD Radeon R7 M260X
10.9
21.8
15.8
12
7.7
 202NVIDIA GeForce GT 730M
11.1
25.32
15.252
12.352
6.3
 206AMD Radeon HD 8750M
~11.675%
21
14.8
11.1
 208AMD Radeon R7 M270
13.6
28.12
192
16.22
8.52
 209AMD Radeon R7 M265
8.2
15.43
12.93
123
3.4
 213NVIDIA GeForce GT 640M
12.4
24.8
19.2
14.6
7.2
 214AMD Radeon R7 (Kaveri)
9
15.82
14.352
10.82
6.6
 215AMD Radeon R8 M365DX
9.2
17.22
12.82
11.652
6.72
 219AMD Radeon R7 M360
10.4
20.83
143
12.43
7.73
 229NVIDIA GeForce 920M
11.4
253
14.93
14.62
5.952
 231Intel HD Graphics 530
11.6
27.12
15.42
12.652
6.352
 234AMD Radeon R7 M260
10.3
18.54
15.454
13.33
7.12
 235AMD Radeon R6 (Carrizo)
7.3
14.552
102
8.752
5.252
Pos      Model                                     Thief
lowmed.highultra
 247AMD Radeon R6 (Kaveri)
5.1
12.154
6.352
5.052
3.6
 266Intel HD Graphics 5600
11.7
27.7
15.9
12.7
6.1
 269AMD Radeon HD 8650G + HD 8570M Dual Graphics
~8.775%
14
11.6
9.6
 272AMD Radeon HD 8670M
~10.275%
19.3
12.3
9.8
 273AMD Radeon R6 M255DX
7.9
14.952
122
9.52
5.1
 292AMD Radeon HD 8650G
8.6
16.752
13
10.4
5.5
 300AMD Radeon R5 M335
9.1
20
12.8
10.4
5.2
 302AMD Radeon R5 M330
8.8
19.12
12.32
10.2
5.1
 303AMD Radeon R5 M255
11.4
21.552
17.2
14.1
7.3
 305NVIDIA GeForce 820M
~1175%
20.33
13.23
11.13
 306Intel HD Graphics 520
~12.575%
24.83
14.23
11.7
 307Intel Iris Graphics 6100
9.3
18.852
13.452
11.152
5.552
 308NVIDIA GeForce GT 720M
~11.175%
21.3
13
10.7
 310AMD Radeon R5 M240
~8.875%
13.3
11.8
10.3
 312AMD Radeon R5 M230
7.1
15.62
10.252
8.152
3.82
 318Intel HD Graphics 6000
~1150%
18
12
 321Intel Iris Graphics 5100
8.1
16.83
11.43
9.83
5.1
 323*AMD Radeon HD 8610G
~5.750%
9.2
6.3
 326Intel HD Graphics 4600
7