Notebookcheck

Tomb Raider Benchmarked

Florian Glaser (translated by Ariana Brodsky), 03/12/2013

Reboot. Crystal Dynamics breathes new life into the time-honored action-adventure series. With their renovated new piece, Tomb Raider, the developers hope to attract not only veterans of the series, but also newbies from the Uncharted Generation. This article mainly examines the single-player mode and the game's hardware hunger.

Tomb Raider Logo

Description

For the original German review, see here.

The reintroduction proves to be a complete success. The dramatic intro video, already familiar to those who have seen the render trailer, instantly pulls the gamer into the Tomb Raider universe. The young and now more accurately proportioned Miss Croft is shipwrecked with several colleagues on a lonely and mysterious island. There they must not only survive, but also search for their missing friends and unravel many secrets.

Does the initial situation remind you of another action game? The overall story isn't the only thing Tomb Raider and the recently released Far Cry 3 have in common. As our several hour long test session revealed, there are several parallels between the Square Enix and Ubisoft productions. Both, for instance, start off with a survival atmosphere. After the female protagonist escapes from the clutches of a strange cult, armed with nothing but a torch, we need to find a suitable fire pit where the wounded woman can warm herself.

Lara Croft goes on an adventurous expedition.
Lara Croft goes on an adventurous expedition.
Her character is now much more believable.
Her character is now much more believable.
Every once in a while the gamer has video flashbacks.
Every once in a while the gamer has video flashbacks.
Atmosphere deserves to be spelled with a capital A in this game.
Atmosphere deserves to be spelled with a capital A in this game.
The gloomy mood keeps us waiting with baited breath.
The gloomy mood keeps us waiting with baited breath.
Tomb Raider is tailored to a grown-up audience.
Tomb Raider is tailored to a grown-up audience.

Since we're on the topic: The fire pits, found in many places throughout the game, are conceived as both "speed travel portals" and central drop-in centers for the skill and crafting system. Like in Far Cry 3, the weapons and main characters can be tuned and/or improved by the gamer. Tomb Raider uses the experience points system, rewarding the player for all sorts of things - whether it be killing and gutting animals or recovering secret items spread all throughout the gaming world (relics, documents, etc.) Unfortunately the developers commit the same error as Ubisoft and mine the island with so many objects that the believability factor takes a significant hit. Particularly as not every action-adventure fan appreciates the new role-play and achievement trend in video games. The secondary pursuits rob the game of its focus and divert attention from the core story. But the collectible objects do intensify the player's thirst for adventure.

The mixture of linear indoor levels and half-open outdoor areas is reminiscent of Crysis 3. Although the technology isn't on par with the Cry Engine 3, Tomb Raider creates a first-class atmosphere. The reason: Most of the levels were obviously created by people with an incredible love of detail. The outdoor areas especially flaunt an amazing vegetation density. The sound quality is also very good. The thoughtful use of music and endearing sounds of the surrounding environment plunge the gamer deep into the game world. Add to that the professional (English) speakers.

The frequent quick time events are a matter of taste.
The frequent quick time events are a matter of taste.
The rich detail is phenomenal.
The rich detail is phenomenal.
In the beginning the young woman has to go it alone.
In the beginning the young woman has to go it alone.
The light, weather and water effects are wonderful.
The light, weather and water effects are wonderful.
As we travel onward Lara takes a bit of a beating.
As we travel onward Lara takes a bit of a beating.
The developers put a lot of effort into the level architecture.
The developers put a lot of effort into the level architecture.

In terms of gameplay, Tomb Raider makes a good though not outstanding impression. The series veterans will enjoy diverse riddles and lots of climbing; the interspersed battles and (sometimes unfair) quick time events won't appeal to every gamer. Whether it was a good idea for Lara to have to prove herself against several opponents using an automatic rifle (did someone say Call of Duty?) is an open question. From our point of view the action-oriented nature of the game doesn't quite fit the series. There are already enough competitors in that genre.

But if you're worried the game will be a mindless Rambo-shooter you can take a deep breath. Opponents can be eliminated silently with the stylish bow the gamer receives shortly after the start of the game - just like in Crysis 3 or Thief. Thanks to the active cover system and the fact that you can strangle or knock the daylights out of enemies from behind, the stealth mechanics make a good impression on you. You can comfortably control the game with your hands. Unlike other third-person titles like Dead Space 3, the controls aren't overloaded; they're limited to a few practically located keys.

The mysterious island raises a ton of questions.
The mysterious island raises a ton of questions.
With the bow Lara becomes a hunter and stealth-expert.
With the bow Lara becomes a hunter and stealth-expert.
The thick vegetation and crisp shadows fill you with wonder.
The thick vegetation and crisp shadows fill you with wonder.
Innumerable secrets await you in the game world.
Innumerable secrets await you in the game world.
The secondary characters have detailed faces too.
The secondary characters have detailed faces too.
Sometimes we are accompanied along our way.
Sometimes we are accompanied along our way.

In terms of storyline Tomb Raider didn't exactly knock our socks off. Despite the exciting starting situation and the cool staging, which is achieved with tons of videos, flashbacks, tracking shots and script sequences, in the end you just clatter up the rung to the next level. The secondary characters could have had more depth to them as well.

The story's greatest point of weakness is the abrupt change from a scared, careful Lara to a tough power girl blasting guns everywhere. In a rather short amount of time our protagonist can use a bow perfectly, accomplish great climbing feats and shoot a number of enemies from a tree - none of which is particularly believable. But anyone who is looking for a sensational adventure and doesn't care whether the story is completely thought through will be able to overlook this discontinuity easily. The story is certainly superior to any standard shooter game.

What happened here?
What happened here?
Despite a good setup the story isn't quite convincing.
Despite a good setup the story isn't quite convincing.
We scale steep cliffs with a climbing axe.
We scale steep cliffs with a climbing axe.
The action-adventure game offers a rudimentary cover system.
The action-adventure game offers a rudimentary cover system.
The instinct mode shows not only mission goals...
The instinct mode shows not only mission goals...
...but - depending on the upgrade - also enemies and animals.
...but - depending on the upgrade - also enemies and animals.

Benchmark

Tomb Raider has an integrated benchmark, which is comfortably accessible through the main menu. In the 70-second sequence the camera turns around Lara 360° and affords an impressive view of the extensive, deserted beach. In our experience, the integrated benchmark does lend itself to an easy assessment of gaming performance. For a fluid overall gaming experience you'll need at least 30 FPS.

Graphics

Nixxes, the studio responsible for PC porting, put a lot of work into the controls and graphics options. The Dutch company was also responsible for the PC conversion of Hitman: Absolution and Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Super: The graphics settings can be altered both inside and outside the game. Changes are adopted immediately and no reboot is needed.

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

While the "basic" menu covers the basic options like resolution, refresh rate, aspect ratio, vertical synchronization and the general quality level (there are five presets), there are over 10 more options in the "advanced" menu. Alongside tessellation, the game also supports other graphics delicacies, such as the ambient occlusion SSAO. In terms of anti-aliasing, the game offers FXAA and 2x to 4x SSAA.  Anisotropic filtering, which displays sharp textures even from a distance, is also on board.

AMD's hair technology TressFX is only activated at the "Ultimate" preset by default. In order to ensure equal opportunities we limited ourselves in the review to the presets "Low", "Normal", "High", and "Ultra".

Bonfires serve as travel, training and crafting sites.
Bonfires serve as travel, training and crafting sites.
The survivor category of course revolves around the art of survival.
The survivor category of course revolves around the art of survival.
Hunter is primarily concerned with battle skills.
Hunter is primarily concerned with battle skills.
Weapons are upgradeable.
Weapons are upgradeable.
We can return to areas we've already visited.
We can return to areas we've already visited.
The map helps to get us oriented.
The map helps to get us oriented.

The graphics quality differs greatly between the presets (especially between "Low" and "Normal"). Advantage: Tomb Raider's performance is tolerable on weaker notebooks too, provided the game is on a lower preset. At high or very high settings the action-adventure is definitely a feast for the eyes. Crisp textures, detailed characters, atmospheric light, weather and shadow effects: The developers hardly made any compromises. Our only complaint is that there could have been a little more variation here and there. The game gains even more points for the beautiful animations and the modest load times.

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

Results

The hardware demands are reasonably high, but considering the high graphics quality they are by no means excessive. With an entry-level GPU, like the popular HD Graphics 4000, the game can be enjoyed at low settings (~50 FPS @ 1024x768). For the normal preset a graphics accelerator from the lower middle class will suffice. Nvidia's GeForce GT 630M, which has a great price-performance ratio, reaches over 30 FPS on average at 1366x768 pixels.

Those who wish to play Tomb Raider at high settings, however, should have at their disposal a graphics card from the upper middle class, like the GeForce GT 640M (1366x768) or the GeForce GT 650M (1600x900). To play the game at Full HD resolution and on the "Ultra" preset, you'll need nothing less than the current top models GeForce GTX 680M and Radeon HD 7970M.

As a glance at the benchmark table will tell you, AMD takes a significant lead when the game is at maximum settings (Tomb Raider is part of their own "Gaming Evolved" program). For example the Radeon HD 8870M: With 21 FPS the DirectX 11.1 GPU comes in before the GeForce GTX 670M, though the GeForce model generally does much better than the Radeon (compare the same test on the Samsung Chronos 770Z7E). We assume that Nvidia will optimize the driver in the coming months.

Benchmark table: Tomb Raider

Verdict

Tomb Raider is a top-class action-adventure. Despite small weak points in the story and logic, the game is a ton of fun. But we wouldn't call the reboot a smash hit; for our taste the battles play a little too dominant a role, and the developers could have focused a little more on the puzzles and climbing passages.

Lara and an automatic rifle? Does that fit?
Lara and an automatic rifle? Does that fit?
Some passages are quite linear...
Some passages are quite linear...
...and win points for their cool script sequences.
...and win points for their cool script sequences.
Emotions are conveyed well.
Emotions are conveyed well.
The motion sequences barely leave room for criticism either.
The motion sequences barely leave room for criticism either.
Now and then we stop to marvel at beautiful panoramas.
Now and then we stop to marvel at beautiful panoramas.

Test Systems

We thank Schenker Notebooks very much for the following three test devices (mysn.de):

  • XMG P502 (Core i7-3610QM, GeForce GTX 660M, GTX 670M, GTX 675M(X), GTX 680M, Radeon HD 7970M & HD Graphics 4000)
  • XMG A502 (Core i5-3360M, GeForce GT 650M)
  • Xesia M501 (Core i7-2630QM, GeForce GT 630M & HD Graphics 3000)
  • Each with 8 GB DDR3-RAM (2x 4096 MB @ 1600 MHz), 160 GB SSD (Intel 320 Series)  & Windows 7 Professional 64 Bit

GPU drivers: Nvidia 314.14 Beta, AMD 13.2 Beta 7 & Intel 9.17.10.2932.

from left to right: Schenker XMG A502, Xesia M501 & XMG P502
from left to right: Schenker XMG A502, Xesia M501 & XMG P502

Overview

Show Restrictions
Pos      Model                                     Tomb Raider
 Tomb Raider (2013)
low
1024x768
Low Preset
med.
1366x768
Normal Preset
4xAF FXAA
high
1366x768
High Preset
8xAF FXAA
ultra
1920x1080
Ultra Preset
16xAF FXAA
 1NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980
491.4
402.4
323.6
138
 2NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti
485.5
391
309
148.6
 3NVIDIA GeForce GTX 880M SLI
426.6
367.4
296
141.8
 4NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M SLI
365
273.1
130.1
 5AMD Radeon R9 M290X Crossfire
379.1
353.2
295.9
127.2
 6AMD Radeon HD 8970M Crossfire
378.752
279.752
126.252
 9AMD Radeon R9 290X
266
137
 10NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M
414.1
356.4
247
104.5
 11AMD Radeon R9 280X
486.2
310.5
207.8
101.1
 12NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M
416.1
295.4
187.1
80.3
 13NVIDIA GeForce GTX 860M SLI
384.8
275.5
167
80.6
 14NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680
280
242
173.3
58
 15AMD Radeon HD 7970
161
72.5
 19NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760
398.7
235.8
167.1
72.9
 20NVIDIA GeForce GTX 880M
339.82
249.12
165.754
73.84
 21NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 Ti
304.4
222.5
135.3
48.1
 23NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M
385.1
231.9
1553
65.46
 24NVIDIA Quadro K5100M
203
128
58
 27NVIDIA GeForce GTX 870M
300.654
166.554
129.35
59.85
Pos      Model                                     Tomb Raider
lowmed.highultra
 28AMD Radeon R9 M290X
287.5
193.9
137.3
62.7
 29AMD Radeon HD 8970M
310.7
188.4
133.3
57.952
 33NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680M
283.8
169.552
108.52
39.62
 34NVIDIA GeForce GTX 765M SLI
388.4
223.1
135.852
64.652
 36AMD Radeon HD 7970M
249.3
164.8
99.3
46
 37NVIDIA GeForce GTX 750 Ti
347.4
179.3
109.9
49.5
 41NVIDIA Quadro K5000M
222
16.9
 42NVIDIA Quadro K4100M
196
118
76
36
 43NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770M
270.954
149.45
97.256
41.456
 44NVIDIA GeForce GTX 860M
305.65
162.47
9711
44.410
 47NVIDIA GeForce GT 755M SLI
164.6
122.1
51
 51NVIDIA GeForce GTX 675MX
212.5
117.2
76.9
23.4
 52NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M SLI
142.7
105.8
45.3
 53NVIDIA GeForce GTX 850M
2475
127.55
677
31.67
 57NVIDIA GeForce GTX 470
305.6
155.5
115.2
44.1
 58NVIDIA GeForce GTX 765M
203.63
113.656
72.256
32.25
 64NVIDIA GeForce GTX 675M
211.2
116.7
76.4
22.6
 67AMD Radeon HD 7770
188.8
95.6
63.3
27.7
 75NVIDIA Quadro K3100M
195
17
 76NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670MX
201.1
104.9
66.5
28
Pos      Model                                     Tomb Raider
lowmed.highultra
 78NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760M
99
65.62
28.42
 79AMD Radeon R9 M275
122.5
62.9
44.1
25.2
 80NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670M
184.3
96.1
61.6
18.6
 84AMD Radeon HD 8870M
117.052
80.43
55.33
25.53
 90NVIDIA Quadro K2100M
1333
743
49.93
213
 95AMD Radeon R7 250
165.8
83.3
55.3
24.1
 96NVIDIA GeForce GT 755M
90.8
64.7
26.4
 98NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660M
131.7
72.6
48.5
14.1
 100AMD Radeon HD 8850M
67.2
47.9
21.8
 101*AMD Radeon R9 M265X
149.9
74.63
523
233
 103AMD Radeon HD 8790M
127
57
42.5
19.7
 104AMD FirePro W4170M
131
61
42
11
 109NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M
124.558
67.29
40.211
17.8510
 110NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M
113.93
62.73
37.83
14.43
 111NVIDIA GeForce 840M
125.912
59.512
29.7512
15.310
 112NVIDIA Quadro K1100M
102.352
56.62
38.952
14.952
 113NVIDIA GeForce GT 745M
114.154
61.94
37.34
16.64
 116AMD Radeon R7 in A10-7850K APU (Kaveri)
103
53
34.5
17
 117Intel Iris Pro Graphics 5200
123.1
58.6
35.3
18
 119NVIDIA GeForce GT 740M
89.621
43.121
23.821
11.112
Pos      Model                                     Tomb Raider
lowmed.highultra
 120NVIDIA GeForce 830M
110.1
53.5
28.3
13.9
 121NVIDIA Quadro K2000M
100.3
54.1
33.6
14.4
 124NVIDIA GeForce GT 735M
84.14
40.75
235
10.2
 126NVIDIA GeForce 825M
90.62
43.62
24.052
 128AMD FirePro M4000
62
23.5
16.5
8.1
 137AMD Radeon HD 8550G + HD 8750M Dual Graphics
72.4
54.7
36.6
 138NVIDIA GeForce GT 730M
83.32
41.23
233
10.3
 140*NVIDIA GeForce GT 645M
97.2
52.7
34.2
13.1
 141AMD FirePro M4100
59
9
 142AMD Radeon HD 8750M
93.34
45.74
30.84
13.552
 144AMD Radeon R7 M265
71.34
44.354
31.154
14.83
 149NVIDIA GeForce GT 640M
87.6
50.1
38.5
9.9
 156AMD Radeon HD 8690M
59.9
33.6
22.1
12.5
 162AMD Radeon R7 M260
77.8
39.9
23.1
 170AMD Radeon HD 8670D
95.6
46.6
35
13.3
 174AMD Radeon R6 (Kaveri)
44.84
23.14
164
8.5
 193AMD Radeon HD 8570D
78.2
38.1
24.5
10.3
 194AMD Radeon HD 8650G + HD 8670M Dual Graphics
98.7
59.2
38.3
 195AMD Radeon HD 8650G + HD 8570M Dual Graphics
64.752
34.62
232
17.2
 197AMD Radeon HD 8550G + HD 8670M Dual Graphics
64.852
33.42
22.22
Pos      Model                                     Tomb Raider
lowmed.highultra
 198AMD Radeon HD 8670M
52.83
27.33
17.63
6
 199AMD Radeon R6 M255DX
70.7
39.7
25.5
 200AMD Radeon HD 7660D
77.252
39.12
24.52
10.752
 218AMD Radeon HD 8650G
65.12
34.052
22.12
9.62
 220*AMD Radeon HD 6620G + HD 7670M Dual Graphics
89
50.4
30.6
12.8
 223NVIDIA GeForce GT 630M
74.13
36.73
20.83
6.752
 224AMD Radeon HD 7560D
61.2
31.5
20
7.8
 228NVIDIA GeForce 820M
76.154
38.454
21.854
 230NVIDIA GeForce GT 720M
664
33.84
20.054
 232Intel Iris Graphics 5100
62.852
33.652
20.22
10.62
 233AMD Radeon R5 M230
48.252
26.252
16.852
8.62
 236AMD Radeon HD 8450G + Radeon HD 8570M Dual Graphics
32.8
18.6
 237AMD Radeon HD 8570M
36.3
17.8
11.6
5.7
 238NVIDIA Quadro K610M
66.9
31.8
20.7
4.9
 244Intel HD Graphics 4600
52.315
23.815
1315
2.152
 248NVIDIA GeForce 710M
67.62
33.652
19.452
 249AMD Radeon HD 7660G
54.8
28.8
18.7
8.5
 254Intel HD Graphics 5000
53.95
27.55
15.85
8.752
 264AMD Radeon HD 7570M
55.3
26
15.2
 270AMD Radeon HD 8550G
61
29
19
8
Pos      Model                                     Tomb Raider
lowmed.highultra
 277AMD Radeon HD 7610M
60
27
17
6
 279AMD Radeon HD 8470D
62.6
30
19.1
7.6
 283Intel HD Graphics 4400
39.0538
20.8538
1237
5.758
 284NVIDIA NVS 5200M
52.152
24.552
15.452
 286AMD Radeon HD 7550M
50.9
23.8
14.4
 320AMD Radeon HD 7480D
41
20
13.3
4.4
 321Intel HD Graphics 4000
33.817
16.9516
10.210
7.052
 324AMD Radeon R5 (Beema)
29.32
15.052
8.52
1.3
 325*AMD Radeon R4 (Beema)
31.72
16.252
11.62
5.1
 326Intel HD Graphics 4200
31.57
15.76
10.44
4.3
 331AMD Radeon HD 7500G
35.7
19.3
 334AMD Radeon HD 8450G
37.054
194
12.33
6.7
 338AMD Radeon HD 8400
25.552
12.752
9.8
 349AMD Radeon HD 8350G
43.7
20.9
14
4.9
 350AMD Radeon HD 8330
25.98
13.258
9.26
 353AMD Radeon R3 (Mullins/Beema)
20.7
10.2
6.9
 373AMD Radeon HD 7420G
28.7
14.9
 378Intel HD Graphics (Haswell)
30.254
14.254
8.23
 391AMD Radeon HD 7400G
27
14
8.6
 398AMD Radeon HD 8280
25.1
12.4
8.7
Pos      Model                                     Tomb Raider
lowmed.highultra
 407AMD Radeon HD 8240
21.8
11
 408AMD Radeon HD 8250
20.352
10.352
7.152
 415Intel HD Graphics 3000
26
13.7
9.9
 433AMD Radeon HD 8210
15.83
8.83
6.1
 436Intel HD Graphics 2500
20.1
10.9
7.1
 437Intel HD Graphics (Ivy Bridge)
21.511
119
7.54
 471*Intel HD Graphics (Sandy Bridge)
14.6
7.9
 475Intel HD Graphics (Bay Trail)
13.7520
7.117
4.85
 478AMD Radeon HD 7340
19.252
10.452
7
 482AMD Radeon HD 8180
13.152
6.8
* 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 > Archive of our own reviews > Tomb Raider Benchmarked
Author: Florian Glaser, 2013-03-12 (Update: 2013-06- 6)