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

For the original German article, see here.

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shadows and many of the surface structures meet today's standards, other elements (faces, for example) seem a little outdated.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%
Discussion

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

Show Restrictions
Pos      Model                                     Thief
 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
 1NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 SLI (Notebook)
131.9
130.8
130.3
113.8
 2NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M SLI
138.9
133.5
120.63
96.53
 4NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980
101.6
98.6
98
79.1
 5NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 (Notebook)
123.92
1202
116.83
84.64
 6AMD Radeon R9 390X
87.3
86.7
86.9
72.6
 7NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M SLI
125.5
119.7
106.82
85.32
 8NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti
98.2
96.3
97.8
76.8
 9NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970
131
126.9
121.6
73
 10NVIDIA GeForce GTX 880M SLI
76.2
73.3
70
63.6
 12AMD Radeon R9 290X
63
70
743
643
 13NVIDIA GeForce GTX 965M SLI
84.7
60.1
 14AMD Radeon R9 M290X Crossfire
60.3
57.3
57
52.1
 18NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M
101.84
95.35
92.1514
61.3514
 19NVIDIA Quadro M5000M
107.82
101.652
96.72
70.752
 20AMD Radeon R9 280X
69.4
67.4
65.6
53.4
 21AMD Radeon R9 380
87.3
77.8
76.5
54.6
 22NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960
108.6
100.9
91
50.6
 23NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M
815
78.758
76.7520
47.8520
 25NVIDIA GeForce GTX 860M SLI
75.5
67.5
64.2
40.4
Pos      Model                                     Thief
lowmed.highultra
 26NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680
75.5
71.8
69.3
49.3
 30AMD Radeon R9 M295X
51.2
52.7
51.3
32.2
 32*AMD FirePro W7170M
62
57
57
40
 34AMD Radeon R7 370
77.8
71.6
68.2
40.2
 36NVIDIA GeForce GTX 880M
62.63
62.33
595
40.35
 37NVIDIA GeForce GTX 950
101.9
89.2
78.4
40.4
 39NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 Ti
72.5
66.7
64.8
40.9
 40NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760
97.7
75.5
67.3
39.2
 41NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M
58.7
56.7
56.5
40.2
 42NVIDIA Quadro K5100M
57.4
50.7
49.6
45.4
 45NVIDIA GeForce GTX 965M
81.84
71.84
63.854
36.24
 46*NVIDIA Quadro M3000M
88.6
77.4
43.1
 47NVIDIA GeForce GTX 870M
54.12
50.552
48.23
31.93
 48AMD Radeon R9 M290X
51.1
48
45.3
34
 49AMD Radeon HD 8970M
55.1
50.9
49.9
35.9
 53NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680M
56.3
54
51
31.3
 56AMD FirePro M6100
68
62
54
26.6
 57AMD Radeon HD 7970M
49.5
45.3
44.6
33.5
 58*AMD Radeon R9 M390
93
72
63
32.952
 59NVIDIA GeForce GTX 750 Ti
91.9
63.2
53.4
27.6
Pos      Model                                     Thief
lowmed.highultra
 63NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M
74.5510
62.113
52.924
27.8524
 64*NVIDIA Quadro M2000M
60
56.1
50.252
26.72
 66NVIDIA Quadro K4100M
82
52
45
26
 67NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770M
57.1
51.3
46.8
26.6
 68NVIDIA GeForce GTX 860M
58.47
50.49
43.8514
2414
 74NVIDIA GeForce GTX 675MX
55
46.6
41
23.4
 76NVIDIA GeForce GTX 950M
69.752
525
42.85
19.954
 77NVIDIA GeForce GTX 850M
46.458
37.6510
33.711
18.111
 78NVIDIA Quadro M1000M
78
53
45
23
 79AMD Radeon R9 M280X
24
16.7
22.3
13.8
 84NVIDIA GeForce 945M
71
44.7
37
18.5
 85NVIDIA GeForce GTX 765M
58.2
43.1
37
19.1
 94*AMD Radeon R9 M385X
25
19.5
22.8
19.2
 105NVIDIA Quadro K3100M
61.42
39.62
33.452
19.252
 107AMD Radeon R9 M370X
53.7
35.5
31.6
17.2
 108NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670MX
54.6
39.7
34.4
18.5
 111AMD Radeon R9 M275
26.8
22.6
19.3
10.5
 114NVIDIA Maxwell GPU Surface Book (940M, GDDR5)
45.6
28.2
22.3
9.4
 124AMD FirePro M5100
33.4
23
20
18
 125NVIDIA Quadro K2100M
36
26.5
23.2
12.5
Pos      Model                                     Thief
lowmed.highultra
 132NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660M
46
30.7
26.4
13
 133NVIDIA GeForce 845M
31.3
20.1
17.3
8.3
 134AMD Radeon HD 8850M
27.1
22.5
19.7
11.5
 136AMD Radeon R9 M265X
41.42
29.44
25.354
12.84
 146NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M
40
25.7
21.5
10.5
 148NVIDIA Quadro K1100M
32
20
17
9
 149NVIDIA GeForce 940M
38.554
24.45
20.354
9.754
 150AMD Radeon R9 M375
27
22.7
19.4
 153AMD Radeon R7 M370
30.3
21
18
9.8
 156NVIDIA Quadro K620M
21
26
13
10
 157NVIDIA GeForce 840M
33.815
23.214
18.6514
9.112
 158AMD Radeon R7 M275DX
24.152
18.12
15.22
8.952
 159NVIDIA GeForce GT 745M
27.9
19.9
17.1
9.5
 162AMD Radeon R7 512 Cores (Kaveri Desktop)
33.2
22
17.5
8.3
 163Intel Iris Pro Graphics 5200
33.42
21.352
16.62
3.72
 164*AMD Radeon R7 (Carrizo)
143
11.83
103
52
 165AMD Radeon R7 384 Cores (Kaveri Desktop)
33.42
20.752
15.852
8.22
 166NVIDIA GeForce GT 740M
25.952
15.92
12.82
6.6
 167NVIDIA GeForce 930M
37.552
24.252
19.052
 169NVIDIA GeForce 830M
29.7
19.9
16.3
Pos      Model                                     Thief
lowmed.highultra
 175NVIDIA GeForce GT 735M
25.1
14.7
11.9
 177NVIDIA GeForce 825M
26.2
15.5
12.4
 186AMD Radeon R7 M260X
21.8
15.8
12
7.7
 190NVIDIA GeForce GT 730M
25.32
15.252
12.352
6.3
 194AMD Radeon HD 8750M
21
14.8
11.1
 196AMD Radeon R7 M270
28.12
192
16.22
8.52
 197AMD Radeon R7 M265
15.43
12.93
123
3.4
 201NVIDIA GeForce GT 640M
24.8
19.2
14.6
7.2
 202AMD Radeon R7 (Kaveri)
15.82
14.352
10.82
6.6
 203AMD Radeon R8 M365DX
17.22
12.82
11.652
6.72
 206AMD Radeon R7 M360
20.8
12.6
12.4
8.2
 216NVIDIA GeForce 920M
25.752
15.252
12.3
6
 217Intel HD Graphics 530
27.12
15.42
12.652
6.352
 220AMD Radeon R7 M260
18.54
15.454
13.33
7.12
 221AMD Radeon R6 (Carrizo)
14.552
102
8.752
5.252
 233AMD Radeon R6 (Kaveri)
12.154
6.352
5.052
3.6
 252Intel HD Graphics 5600
27.7
15.9
12.7
6.1
 255AMD Radeon HD 8650G + HD 8570M Dual Graphics
14
11.6
9.6
 258AMD Radeon HD 8670M
19.3
12.3
9.8
 259AMD Radeon R6 M255DX
14.952
122
9.52
5.1
Pos      Model                                     Thief
lowmed.highultra
 278AMD Radeon HD 8650G
16.752
13
10.4
5.5
 286AMD Radeon R5 M335
20
12.8
10.4
5.2
 287AMD Radeon R5 M330
19.12
12.32
10.2
5.1
 288AMD Radeon R5 M255
21.552
17.2
14.1
7.3
 290NVIDIA GeForce 820M
20.33
13.23
11.13
 291Intel HD Graphics 520
19.352
11.252
11.7
 292Intel Iris Graphics 6100
18.852
13.452
11.152
5.552
 293NVIDIA GeForce GT 720M
21.3
13
10.7
 295AMD Radeon R5 M240
13.3
11.8
10.3
 297AMD Radeon R5 M230
15.62
10.252
8.152
3.82
 303Intel HD Graphics 6000
18
12
 306Intel Iris Graphics 5100
16.83
11.43
9.83
5.1
 308*AMD Radeon HD 8610G
9.2
6.3
 311Intel HD Graphics 4600
15.558
9.28
7.56
4.8
 313Intel HD Graphics 5500
15.222
9.820
7.719
3.814
 315AMD Radeon R5 (Kaveri)
9.9
6.8
5.7
 319AMD Radeon HD 7660G
15.6
12.9
10.2
5
 322Intel HD Graphics 5000
13.352
9.052
7.6
3.9
 338AMD Radeon HD 8550G
18.7
12
 347AMD Radeon HD 8470D
16.4
Pos      Model                                     Thief
lowmed.highultra
 354Intel HD Graphics 4400
12.920
7.919
6.3516
3.458
 384Intel HD Graphics 5300
9.44
5.44
4.354
2.12
 393Intel HD Graphics 4000
19
10.9
8.8
4.3
 396*AMD Radeon R4 (Kaveri)
6.4
4.9
4.2
 399AMD Radeon R5 (Beema/Carrizo-L)
8.72
5.82
3.62
 400AMD Radeon R4 (Beema)
8.9
5.7
4.2
0.7
 401Intel HD Graphics 4200
12.52
6.22
5.8
 410AMD Radeon HD 8450G
10.33