Notebookcheck

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

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

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

Discussion
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
 3NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 SLI (Laptop)
105.3
 8NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 (Laptop)
75.5
 10NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M SLI
261.4
94.2
 19*NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 (Laptop)
169.22
63.23
 26NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M SLI
170.7
131.4
31.6
 27AMD Radeon R9 290X
217
172
139
56.32
 34NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M
191.43
593
 35NVIDIA Quadro M5000M
373
299
235
57
 41NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M
259.8
205.52
164.36
46.256
 44NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680
249
168
125.6
38.4
 45AMD Radeon HD 7970
201.1
155.2
111.3
36
 52NVIDIA Quadro M3000M
349
271
217
40
 53AMD FirePro W7170M
185
162
153
36
 57NVIDIA GeForce GTX 880M
245
175.5
149.22
36.72
 60NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 Ti
266
194.8
141.4
33.8
 62NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M
257.2
184.4
138.8
33.9
 67NVIDIA GeForce GTX 965M
274.6
197.42
161.352
34.352
 68NVIDIA GeForce GTX 870M
217.5
161.2
129.5
31.6
 70AMD Radeon HD 8970M
25.4
Pos      Model                                     Total War: Rome II
lowmed.highultra
 78NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680M
219.6
160.3
121
27
 80AMD FirePro M6100
182
152
118
23
 87NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M
216.95
163.15
133.258
25.558
 89NVIDIA Quadro M2000M
221.252
174.63
138.84
25.54
 91NVIDIA Quadro K4100M
191
146
121
22
 93NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770M
190.32
154.852
118.12
20.22
 94NVIDIA GeForce GTX 860M
113.52
21.22
 100NVIDIA GeForce GTX 675MX
186.8
138.2
106.7
18.5
 106NVIDIA GeForce GTX 850M
84.1
87.352
72.552
182
 107NVIDIA Quadro M1000M
166
126
107
20
 113NVIDIA GeForce 945M
133
101
73
17
 114NVIDIA GeForce GTX 765M
163.22
121.252
91.44
15.954
 128AMD Radeon HD 7770
121.6
100.6
72
25.3
 139NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670MX
156.8
116.4
91.3
16.6
 141NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760M
162.6
117.9
93.9
14.4
 145AMD FirePro W5130M
106
78.052
65.152
16.752
 149AMD Radeon HD 8870M
96.5
78.2
 154AMD FirePro M5100
118
90
76
12
 155NVIDIA Quadro K2100M
88.352
66.652
52.62
9.32
 162NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660M
118.8
86.3
67.7
16.1
Pos      Model                                     Total War: Rome II
lowmed.highultra
 164AMD Radeon HD 8850M
62.6
51
16.8
 166AMD Radeon R9 M265X
79.1
65.4
10.4
 169AMD FirePro W4170M
86
67
55.2
9
 175NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M
93.12
69.452
53.32
9.852
 177NVIDIA GeForce 940MX
82.72
64.452
55.452
14.1
 178NVIDIA Quadro K1100M
83.8
62.5
49.1
9.42
 179NVIDIA GeForce 940M
572
47.652
40.62
11
 184AMD Radeon R7 M370
81.952
632
53.82
8.452
 187NVIDIA Quadro K620M
61
48
40
10.5
 188NVIDIA GeForce 840M
59.33
46.33
39.73
10.23
 189AMD Radeon R7 M275DX
74.2
57.3
47.4
16.7
 190NVIDIA GeForce GT 745M
66.3
53.4
7.9
 194AMD Radeon R7 512 Cores (Kaveri Desktop)
70
54.5
48.1
13
 195Intel Iris Pro Graphics 5200
87
64
44
13.1
 197NVIDIA GeForce GT 740M
67
49
39
7
 200NVIDIA GeForce 830M
55
42.3
35
8.1
 203*NVIDIA Quadro M500M
62.6
48.1
42.3
10.5
 207NVIDIA GeForce GT 735M
60.1
41.5
33.6
10.1
 209NVIDIA GeForce 825M
61.9
 220AMD Radeon HD 8550G + HD 8750M Dual Graphics
34.7
27.7
23.8
Pos      Model                                     Total War: Rome II
lowmed.highultra
 222NVIDIA GeForce GT 730M
55.12
42.82
34.42
10.22
 225AMD FirePro M4100
45
6
 226AMD Radeon HD 8750M
62.33
503
31.72
7.452
 228AMD Radeon R7 M270
63.4
47.2
38.3
7.3
 229AMD Radeon R7 M265
64.7
51.1
42.4
7.5
 233NVIDIA GeForce GT 640M
71
48
40.2
11.5
 234AMD Radeon R7 (Kaveri)
36.5
29.1
25.7
 251AMD Radeon R7 M340
62.652
47.82
41.62
7.452
 252NVIDIA GeForce 920M
47.6
36.9
31.2
 257AMD Radeon R7 M260
55.92
43.22
36.252
7.22
 268AMD Radeon HD 8670D
65
48.7
39
7.3
 272AMD Radeon R6 (Kaveri)
35.5
26.8
22.7
6.3
 292AMD Radeon HD 8570D
55
43
32.8
6.4
 293AMD Radeon HD 8650G + HD 8670M Dual Graphics
44.2
31.7
25.7
 294AMD Radeon HD 8650G + HD 8570M Dual Graphics
25.8
18
14.4
3.1
 296AMD Radeon HD 8550G + HD 8670M Dual Graphics
45.7
33.7
27.9
 297AMD Radeon HD 8670M
40.6
30.5
26.2
 298AMD Radeon R6 M255DX
50.3
39.5
30.6
6.4
 299AMD Radeon HD 7660D
61
47
37
6.7
 317AMD Radeon HD 8650G
41.252
33.82
23.12
8.7
Pos      Model                                     Total War: Rome II
lowmed.highultra
 322NVIDIA GeForce GT 630M
52.652
38.852
30.252
6.352
 327AMD Radeon R5 M330
41
31
26.6
5
 328AMD Radeon R5 M255
59.52
47.32
39.152
6.552
 331NVIDIA GeForce 820M
50.7
38.6
30.5
 332Intel HD Graphics 520
43.515
30.915
26.3514
4.711
 334NVIDIA GeForce GT 720M
47.7
32.4
24.7
 336AMD Radeon R5 M240
40.5
31.9
28.2
 338AMD Radeon R5 M230
42.9
32.2
27.1
 345Intel HD Graphics 6000
48
36
28
 348Intel Iris Graphics 5100
47.752
35.552
25.952
8.752
 353Intel HD Graphics 4600
35.654
25.354
18.83
7.052
 355Intel HD Graphics 5500
35.95
26.356
20.96
74
 359AMD Radeon R5 (Kaveri)
27
20.3
17.1
 363AMD Radeon HD 7660G
40
31
22.5
11.3
 366Intel HD Graphics 5000
39.8
29.4
21.6
6.6
 382AMD Radeon HD 8550G
47.7
34.8
27.5
7
 389AMD Radeon HD 7610M
43
35
27
7
 391AMD Radeon HD 8470D
36.6
29
20.8
4.1
 399Intel HD Graphics 4400
31.815
2615
17.515
5.86
 429Intel HD Graphics 5300
24.9
17.4
13
3.6
Pos      Model                                     Total War: Rome II
lowmed.highultra
 438AMD Radeon HD 7480D
27.9
22
16.7
2.8
 439Intel HD Graphics 4000
27.754
20.54
 447AMD Radeon R5 (Beema/Carrizo-L)
22.3
18.2
15.5
 448AMD Radeon R4 (Beema)
24.72
19.12
15.652
 450Intel HD Graphics 4200
27.7
18.4
13.3
4.7
 459AMD Radeon HD 8450G
29.4
21.6
17.6
 463AMD Radeon HD 8400
23.7
17.8
 475AMD Radeon HD 8350G
32.5
24.8
19.7
 476AMD Radeon HD 8330
19.8
15.2
 479AMD Radeon R3 (Mullins/Beema)
26.5
19.2
15.3
 502AMD Radeon HD 7420G
23.3
16.6
 507Intel HD Graphics (Haswell)
22.4
16.9
 529AMD Radeon HD 8280
19.2
14.3
 546Intel HD Graphics 3000
18.82
14.12
 564AMD Radeon HD 8210
9.72
7.2
 608Intel HD Graphics (Bay Trail)
7.7
* Smaller values are better. / * Approximate position