Total War: Rome II Benchmarked

Florian Glaser (translated by Ariana Brodsky), 09/13/2013

Fun or just frustrating? Following the current trend, Creative Assembly and SEGA released their new epic strategy game before it was quite ready. Gamers are registering complaints about performance issues, texture problems and other sorts of bugs. You can find out here how well various notebook GPUs get along with Rome II.

Total War: Rome II Logo

For the original German article, see here.

Graphics

We tested the "original version" of Total War: Rome II and were left with mixed feelings. The new Total War narrative is one of the most appealing strategy games we've ever seen, but on closer look there certainly are a lot of bugs.

While Rome II makes a striking impression at low zoom levels, close-ups definitely reveal flaws. Experienced gamers are bound to criticize not only the weak textures and frequent clipping errors, but even the periodically low polygon count.

It should be noted, however, that such high zoom-levels aren't all that common in the strategy genre, so it's not quite fair to expect the graphics quality typical of action or shooter games.

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The developers deserve to be praised for the comprehensive settings options. Let's begin with the basic graphics menu, which offers a variety of resolutions and a whole six presets. You can control the individual settings in the advanced options. Here we have about 20 menu items that span from "A" as in "anti-aliasing" to "W" as in "water". Depending on the level and graphics card, the game uses the Shader Model 3, 4 or 5. Although Intel's HD Graphics 3000 and HD Graphics 4000 chips have a compatible feature set, we could only use the "low" and "medium" quality settings.

It's also a shame that Creative Assembly only built-in an anti-aliasing mode and didn't think the presets through as far as they should have (the highest setting only activates 2x AF, which takes hardly any computational power). Like we've seen with the Call of Duty series, the game's graphics quality degrades very quickly as you select lower settings. At low or medium details, Rome II looks quite ugly (muddy textures, missing vegetation, reduced object count, etc.).

Even on the "High Quality" setting, epic battles don't quite reach their full potential. Only at high or ultrahigh details can we speak of first-class visuals. No current notebook graphics card can handle the top level, "Extreme". According to the developers, several patches should be released in the next few weeks. The patches are supposed to help with the game's performance, but whether the developers' intentions come to fruition remains to be seen.

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In general, we can say that the frame-rates fluctuate enormously. Even high-end GPUs' frame-rates plummet in some situations, despite the fact that the average display refresh rates suggest that the game should run fluidly enough for normal gameplay (see the screenshots below the Verdict section).

We also frequently had to fight with incorrectly loaded textures. Despite the fact that we selected the correct settings and installed the current drivers, on many systems the resolution of the character models was too low. As a result, some graphics cards ranked above models that are actually stronger (for example, the GT 640M ranked above the GT 750M).

Additionally, often textures "pop up" relatively late, which makes for a somewhat unstable image. All in all, the graphics don't seem to be fully developed. As was true of Splinter Cell: Blacklist, the number of errors a gamer will encounter is (still) very high.

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Benchmark

Following Shogun II's example, Rome II also has an integrated benchmark. This benchmark is located in the advanced graphics menu and lasts about two minutes. Since the benchmark only reaches up to 66 fps (that is the maximum number of images recorded), we used the Fraps tool for our speed measurements -- here there is no limitation.

Results

Due to the fluctuating performance, it's not easy to reach a universally applicable conclusion about the game's system requirements. Even users of high-end systems have complained of jerky graphics. If you only take the benchmark into account and observe the recorded performance drops, you'll need an average of at least 40 fps to run the game fluidly. 

On the basis of this assertion, for low details and 1024x768 pixels, we recommend an entry-level chip on the level of the GeForce GT 720M or HD Graphics 4000. You'll need at least a mid-range GPU, like the GeForce GT 630M, to play the game at normal details and 1366x768 pixels. For the "High" preset, depending on the resolution, you'll require a model from the upper middle class or lower high-end sector (from the GeForce GT 640M up).

As previously mentioned our highest quality setting, comprised of the combination of 1920x1080 pixels and the "Extreme" preset, overtaxes every notebook graphics card on the market. Even mighty desktop GPUs, like the Radeon HD 7970 or the GeForce GTX 680, don't manage more than 40 fps (on average) in the benchmark. If you're willing to settle for the ultra setting, which runs about 40% more fluidly, for 1920x1080 pixels you'll need at least a GeForce GTX 680M.

A look at the Radeon HD 7660G reveals that the strategy title can also be limited by the CPU. It's hard to reach more than 40 fps with the A10-4600M. Speaking of AMD: While the Radeon HD 8970M ran suspiciously slowly at moderate settings (beneath the level of the GTX 660M), we couldn't even test the HD 7970M, because Rome II only recognized the integrated GPU. This problem must be tied to the game, the driver (we tried version 13.4 and 13.8 Beta2) or the Enduro graphics switching.

Benchmark Table: Total War: Rome II
Benchmark Table: Total War: Rome II

Verdict

Creative Assembly still has a lot of work ahead of them before anyone will speak of "flawless graphics" when they talk about Total War: Rome II. The original, that is to say, the unpatched version, leaves us asking whether the title might have been released prematurely. Without powerful hardware, the image jerks chaotically at high settings. As of right now, owners of weaker notebooks will have to make do with mediocre graphics quality.

Benchmark Graph GTX 680M
Benchmark Graph GTX 680M (Ultra)
Benchmark Graph GTX 780M
Benchmark Graph GTX 780M (Extreme)
Benchmark Graph HD 7970
Benchmark Graph HD 7970 (Extreme)

Test Systems

Our four most important test devices 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)
  • XMG P502 (Core i7-3610QM, 8 GB DDR3, GeForce GTX 660M, GTX 670MX, GTX 675MX, GTX 680M, Radeon HD 7970M & HD Graphics 4000)
  • Xesia M501 (Core i7-2630QM, 8 GB DDR3, GeForce GT 630M & HD Graphics 3000)

A further thank you goes to Crucial for providing the 480 GB M500 on which Windows 7 Professional 64-bit is installed.

GPU drivers used: Nvidia 326.80 Beta, AMD 13.8 Beta2, Intel 9.17.10.3223 and 9.18.10.3165.

From left to right: Schenker Xesia M501, M503, XMG P502 & W503
From left to right: Schenker Xesia M501, M503, XMG P502 & W503

Overview

Show Restrictions
Pos      Model                                     Total War: Rome II
 Total War: Rome II (2013)
low
1024x768
Low Preset
med.
1366x768
Medium Preset
high
1366x768
High Preset
ultra
1920x1080
Extreme Preset
 2NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M SLI
170.7
131.4
31.6
 9NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680
249
168
125.6
38.4
 10AMD Radeon HD 7970
201.1
155.2
111.3
36
 13NVIDIA GeForce GTX 880M
245
175.5
152
37
 14NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 Ti
266
194.8
141.4
33.8
 16NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M
257.2
184.4
138.8
33.9
 21AMD Radeon HD 8970M
25.4
 26NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680M
219.6
160.3
121
27
 35NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770M
190.32
154.852
118.12
20.22
 44NVIDIA GeForce GTX 675MX
186.8
138.2
106.7
18.5
 50NVIDIA GeForce GTX 765M
163.22
121.252
91.44
15.954
 59AMD Radeon HD 7770
121.6
100.6
72
25.3
 69NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670MX
156.8
116.4
91.3
16.6
 71NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760M
162.6
117.9
93.9
14.4
 74AMD Radeon HD 8870M
96.5
78.2
 80NVIDIA Quadro K2100M
88.352
66.652
52.62
9.32
 87NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660M
118.8
86.3
67.7
16.1
 89AMD Radeon HD 8850M
62.6
51
16.8
 97NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M
93.12
69.452
53.32
9.852
Pos      Model                                     Total War: Rome II
lowmed.highultra
 100*NVIDIA GeForce 840M
59.3
47
39.7
 101NVIDIA Quadro K1100M
83.8
62.5
49.1
9.42
 102NVIDIA GeForce GT 745M
66.3
53.4
7.9
 105AMD Radeon R7 in A10-7850K APU (Kaveri)
70
54.5
48.1
13
 106Intel Iris Pro Graphics 5200
87
64
44
13.1
 109NVIDIA GeForce GT 740M
67
49
39
7
 114NVIDIA GeForce 825M
61.9
 124AMD Radeon HD 8550G + HD 8750M Dual Graphics
34.7
27.7
23.8
 125AMD Radeon HD 8750M
64.62
52.42
40.4
7.9
 126NVIDIA GeForce GT 730M
61.2
47.1
37.7
11
 129*AMD FirePro M4100
45
6
 135NVIDIA GeForce GT 640M
71
48
40.2
11.5
 137NVIDIA GeForce GT 735M
60.1
41.5
33.6
10.1
 153AMD Radeon HD 8670D
65
48.7
39
7.3
 174AMD Radeon HD 8570D
55
43
32.8
6.4
 175AMD Radeon HD 8650G + HD 8670M Dual Graphics
44.2
31.7
25.7
 176*AMD Radeon HD 8650G + HD 8570M Dual Graphics
25.8
18
14.4
3.1
 178AMD Radeon HD 8550G + HD 8670M Dual Graphics
45.7
33.7
27.9
 179AMD Radeon HD 8670M
40.6
30.5
26.2
 180AMD Radeon HD 7660D
61
47
37
6.7
Pos      Model                                     Total War: Rome II
lowmed.highultra
 198AMD Radeon HD 8650G
28.5
27.6
14.2
 203NVIDIA GeForce GT 630M
52.652
38.852
30.252
6.352
 207NVIDIA GeForce 820M
50.7
38.6
30.5
 208NVIDIA GeForce GT 720M
47.7
32.4
24.7
 210Intel Iris Graphics 5100
47.752
35.552
25.952
8.752
 222Intel HD Graphics 4600
35.654
25.354
18.83
7.052
 227AMD Radeon HD 7660G
40
31
22.5
11.3
 230Intel HD Graphics 5000
39.8
29.4
21.6
6.6
 246*AMD Radeon HD 8550G
55.7
46.4
40.3
 253AMD Radeon HD 7610M
43
35
27
7
 255AMD Radeon HD 8470D
36.6
29
20.8
4.1
 258Intel HD Graphics 4400
32.8510
24.610
18.210
5.44
 294AMD Radeon HD 7480D
27.9
22
16.7
2.8
 295Intel HD Graphics 4000
27.754
20.54
 297Intel HD Graphics 4200
27.7
18.4
13.3
4.7
 305AMD Radeon HD 8450G
29.4
21.6
17.6
 309AMD Radeon HD 8400
23.7
17.8
 320*AMD Radeon HD 8350G
32.5
24.8
19.7
 321AMD Radeon HD 8330
19.8
15.2
 342AMD Radeon HD 7420G
23.3
16.6
Pos      Model                                     Total War: Rome II
lowmed.highultra
 364AMD Radeon HD 8280
19.2
14.3
 370Intel HD Graphics (Haswell)
22.4
16.9
 380Intel HD Graphics 3000
18.82
14.12
 398AMD Radeon HD 8210
9.72
7.2
 446Intel HD Graphics (Bay Trail)
7.7
* 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 > Total War: Rome II Benchmarked
Author: Florian Glaser, 2013-09-13 (Update: 2013-09-13)