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shadows and many of the surface structures meet today's standards, other elements (faces, for example) seem a little outdated.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                                     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
 7AMD Radeon R9 390X
87.3
86.7
86.9
72.6
 8NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M SLI
125.5
119.7
106.82
85.32
 9NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti
98.2
96.3
97.8
76.8
 10NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970
131
126.9
121.6
73
 11NVIDIA GeForce GTX 880M SLI
76.2
73.3
70
63.6
 13AMD Radeon R9 290X
63
70
743
643
 15NVIDIA GeForce GTX 965M SLI
84.7
60.1
 16AMD Radeon R9 M290X Crossfire
60.3
57.3
57
52.1
 20NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M
101.84
95.35
92.316
61.8516
 21NVIDIA Quadro M5000M
107.82
101.652
96.72
70.752
 22AMD Radeon R9 280X
69.4
67.4
65.6
53.4
 23AMD Radeon R9 380
87.3
77.8
76.5
54.6
 24NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960
108.6
100.9
91
50.6
 25NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M
815
78.758
76.7520
47.8520
 27NVIDIA GeForce GTX 860M SLI
75.5
67.5
64.2
40.4
Pos      Model                                     Thief
lowmed.highultra
 28NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680
75.5
71.8
69.3
49.3
 33AMD Radeon R9 M295X
51.2
52.7
51.3
32.2
 35*AMD FirePro W7170M
62
57
57
40
 37AMD Radeon R7 370
77.8
71.6
68.2
40.2
 39NVIDIA GeForce GTX 880M
62.63
62.33
595
40.35
 40NVIDIA GeForce GTX 950
101.9
89.2
78.4
40.4
 42NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 Ti
72.5
66.7
64.8
40.9
 43NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760
97.7
75.5
67.3
39.2
 44NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M
58.7
56.7
56.5
40.2
 45NVIDIA Quadro K5100M
57.4
50.7
49.6
45.4
 48NVIDIA GeForce GTX 965M
81.84
75.95
65.25
34.95
 49*NVIDIA Quadro M3000M
88.6
77.4
43.1
 50NVIDIA GeForce GTX 870M
54.12
50.552
48.23
31.93
 51AMD Radeon R9 M290X
51.1
48
45.3
34
 52AMD Radeon HD 8970M
55.1
50.9
49.9
35.9
 56NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680M
56.3
54
51
31.3
 59AMD FirePro M6100
68
62
54
26.6
 60AMD Radeon HD 7970M
49.5
45.3
44.6
33.5
 61*AMD Radeon R9 M390
93
72
63
32.952
 62NVIDIA GeForce GTX 750 Ti
91.9
63.2
53.4
27.6
Pos      Model                                     Thief
lowmed.highultra
 66NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M
74.5512
63.417
53.6528
27.9528
 67*NVIDIA Quadro M2000M
60
56.1
50.252
26.72
 69NVIDIA Quadro K4100M
82
52
45
26
 70NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770M
57.1
51.3
46.8
26.6
 71NVIDIA GeForce GTX 860M
58.47
50.49
43.8514
2414
 77NVIDIA GeForce GTX 675MX
55
46.6
41
23.4
 79NVIDIA GeForce GTX 950M
64.43
50.756
41.96
20.55
 80NVIDIA GeForce GTX 850M
46.458
37.6510
33.711
18.111
 81NVIDIA Quadro M1000M
78
53
45
23
 82AMD Radeon R9 M280X
24
16.7
22.3
13.8
 87NVIDIA GeForce 945M
71
44.7
37
18.5
 88NVIDIA GeForce GTX 765M
58.2
43.1
37
19.1
 99*AMD Radeon R9 M385X
25
19.5
22.8
19.2
 110NVIDIA Quadro K3100M
61.42
39.62
33.452
19.252
 112AMD Radeon R9 M370X
53.7
35.5
31.6
17.2
 113NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670MX
54.6
39.7
34.4
18.5
 116AMD Radeon R9 M275
26.8
22.6
19.3
10.5
 118*NVIDIA GeForce 940MX
37.5
24.8
20
9.9
 119NVIDIA Maxwell GPU Surface Book (940M, GDDR5)
45.6
28.2
22.3
9.4
 128AMD FirePro M5100
33.4
23
20
18
Pos      Model                                     Thief
lowmed.highultra
 129NVIDIA Quadro K2100M
36
26.5
23.2
12.5
 136NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660M
46
30.7
26.4
13
 137NVIDIA GeForce 845M
31.3
20.1
17.3
8.3
 138AMD Radeon HD 8850M
27.1
22.5
19.7
11.5
 140AMD Radeon R9 M265X
41.42
29.44
25.354
12.84
 151NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M
40
25.7
21.5
10.5
 153NVIDIA Quadro K1100M
32
20
17
9
 154NVIDIA GeForce 940M
38.25
24.156
19.85
9.754
 155AMD Radeon R9 M375
27
22.7
19.4
 158AMD Radeon R7 M370
27.22
19.62
17.52
10.62
 161NVIDIA Quadro K620M
21
26
13
10
 162NVIDIA GeForce 840M
33.815
23.214
18.6514
9.112
 163AMD Radeon R7 M275DX
24.152
18.12
15.22
8.952
 164NVIDIA GeForce GT 745M
27.9
19.9
17.1
9.5
 167AMD Radeon R7 512 Cores (Kaveri Desktop)
33.2
22
17.5
8.3
 168Intel Iris Pro Graphics 5200
33.42
21.352
16.62
3.72
 169*AMD Radeon R7 (Carrizo)
143
11.83
103
52
 170AMD Radeon R7 384 Cores (Kaveri Desktop)
33.42
20.752
15.852
8.22
 171NVIDIA GeForce GT 740M
25.952
15.92
12.82
6.6
 172NVIDIA GeForce 930M
37.552
24.252
19.052
Pos      Model                                     Thief
lowmed.highultra
 173*Intel Iris Graphics 550
25.4
21.1
10
 174NVIDIA GeForce 830M
29.7
19.9
16.3
 175Intel Iris Graphics 540
23.3
15.7
13.7
 176*NVIDIA Quadro M500M
33.7
23.4
19.1
9.6
 180NVIDIA GeForce GT 735M
25.1
14.7
11.9
 182NVIDIA GeForce 825M
26.2
15.5
12.4
 191AMD Radeon R7 M260X
21.8
15.8
12
7.7
 195NVIDIA GeForce GT 730M
25.32
15.252
12.352
6.3
 199AMD Radeon HD 8750M
21
14.8
11.1
 201AMD Radeon R7 M270
28.12
192
16.22
8.52
 202AMD Radeon R7 M265
15.43
12.93
123
3.4
 206NVIDIA GeForce GT 640M
24.8
19.2
14.6
7.2
 207AMD Radeon R7 (Kaveri)
15.82
14.352
10.82
6.6
 208AMD Radeon R8 M365DX
17.22
12.82
11.652
6.72
 212AMD Radeon R7 M360
20.42
13.32
12.22
7.42
 222NVIDIA GeForce 920M
253
14.93
14.62
5.952
 224Intel HD Graphics 530
27.12
15.42
12.652
6.352
 227AMD Radeon R7 M260
18.54
15.454
13.33
7.12
 228AMD Radeon R6 (Carrizo)
14.552
102
8.752
5.252
 240AMD Radeon R6 (Kaveri)
12.154
6.352
5.052
3.6
Pos      Model                                     Thief
lowmed.highultra
 259Intel HD Graphics 5600
27.7
15.9
12.7
6.1
 262AMD Radeon HD 8650G + HD 8570M Dual Graphics
14
11.6
9.6
 265AMD Radeon HD 8670M
19.3
12.3
9.8
 266AMD Radeon R6 M255DX
14.952
122
9.52
5.1
 285AMD Radeon HD 8650G
16.752
13
10.4
5.5
 293AMD Radeon R5 M335
20
12.8
10.4
5.2
 295AMD Radeon R5 M330
19.12
12.32
10.2
5.1
 296AMD Radeon R5 M255
21.552
17.2
14.1
7.3
 298NVIDIA GeForce 820M
20.33
13.23
11.13
 299Intel HD Graphics 520
24.83
14.23
11.7
 300Intel Iris Graphics 6100
18.852
13.452
11.152
5.552
 301NVIDIA GeForce GT 720M
21.3
13
10.7
 303AMD Radeon R5 M240
13.3
11.8
10.3
 305AMD Radeon R5 M230
15.62
10.252
8.152
3.82
 311Intel HD Graphics 6000
18
12
 314Intel Iris Graphics 5100
16.83
11.43
9.83
5.1
 316*AMD Radeon HD 8610G
9.2
6.3
 319Intel HD Graphics 4600
15.558
9.28
7.56
4.8
 321Intel HD Graphics 5500
15.222
9.820
7.719
3.814
 323AMD Radeon R5 (Kaveri)
9.9
6.8
5.7
Pos      Model                                     Thief
lowmed.highultra
 327AMD Radeon HD 7660G
15.6
12.9
10.2
5
 330Intel HD Graphics 5000
13.352
9.052
7.6
3.9
 346AMD Radeon HD 8550G
18.7
12