Notebookcheck

Watch Dogs Benchmarked

Florian Glaser (translated by Markus Doepfert), 06/01/2014

Hardware giant. The outburst of the community was big when Ubisoft announced the official system requirements for Watch Dogs. The open-world title not only requires a potent graphics chip but also a very fast processor. We have tested several notebooks and desktops with various settings.

Watch Dogs Logo

For the original German article, see here.

Graphics

It is currently greatly debated if the graphics quality touches the first presentation videos of the publisher. For a 2014 game Watch Dogs looks good without a doubt, but it is no real graphics stunner. On the one hand the third person title excels with neat reflections and superb light and shadow effects at night and during rain, on the other hand the light in the daytime is not very convincing. Outdoors, the environment seems somewhat too bright and too little graded.

Nonetheless, Watch Dogs is able to create a coherent atmosphere, partly due to the high amount of vegetation and people. The characters appear realistic thanks to the credible animations and good character models. Another advantage of the Disrupt engine, which was specifically built for Watch Dogs, turns out to be the excellent display of water, which is definitely first-grade.

Furthermore, the game offers quite sharp textures - when using high or ultra-high graphics settings. Another fact that deserves praise is that objects only rarely pop up and "jump into the picture" when driving. In addition to that, Havok's eponymous physics software guarantees harmonious physical behavior. We were particularly impressed by the simulation of fabric (clothes etc.).

Watch Dogs
Watch Dogs
Watch Dogs
Watch Dogs
Watch Dogs
Watch Dogs

But it is not all roses. After only a few minutes into the game it becomes apparent that Ubisoft somewhat neglected the PC version. Besides the bad drivability (the control of vehicles feels vague via mouse and keyboard) there are also the many performance drops. Watch Dogs likes to crash despite brand new (beta) drivers from time to time.

Ubisoft ought to have foreseen that its online platform Uplay, which is necessary for the installation of the game, would not be able to handle the run of customers and thus will work inadequately after release (login not possible, error messages regarding the cloud data, etc.).

Watch Dogs
Watch Dogs
Watch Dogs
Watch Dogs
Watch Dogs
Watch Dogs

Start issues aside: The graphics menu is, for a PC game, decent by all means. The display tab allows changing the resolution, the screen mode, the anti-aliasing and other standard options. The graphics quality tab offers four presets (overall quality) and eight individual options ranging from A for ambient occlusion to W for water.

Since Watch Dogs is part of Nvidia's TWIMTBP program it not only offers FXAA, SMAA and MSAA but also TXAA for anti-aliasing. All settings can be changed during the game apart from the texture quality (3 GB VRAM should suffice for ultra settings).

Low settings
Low settings
Medium settings
Medium settings
High settings
High settings
Ultra settings
Ultra settings

Benchmark

We tested the performance of the Triple A title with the help of a car race. As soon as the protagonist, Aiden, has fled the stadium and escaped the police after the prolog, there is a so-called fixer contract (= side mission) close to his hideout.

As can be seen in our video we raced from the first to the sixth checkpoint and recorded the average frame rate. The entire sequence is about 40 seconds long and is exemplary for the hardware demand. Due to the high speed of the game and the mentioned performance drops, we expected a benchmark result of at least 35 fps. Otherwise there would be annoying stutters once in a while.

Low settings
Low settings
Medium settings
Medium settings
High settings
High settings
Ultra settings
Ultra settings

Although the graphics card is the limiting factor for most systems, the processor is also of significance. At low or medium settings the performance follows the CPU (at least in high-end notebooks and/or devices based on AMD). Speaking of AMD: The graphics chips of the Nvidia competitor come off reproducibly worse at moderate settings (see R9 280X and HD 8970M). The minimum fps is also lower according to our experience.

Results

The hardware demand of Watch Dogs is quite high when adding up all benchmark scores. Entry-level GPUs, as known from inexpensive office notebooks, do not meet the requirements. Intel's popular processor chip HD Graphics 4600 struggles heavily even with 1024x768 pixels and low settings. It did not go any higher than 24 fps in the benchmark (Iris Pro 5200: ~33fps). A multimedia GPU like the GeForce GT 740M (~40 fps @1024x768, low settings) is at least necessary to play Watch Dogs fluently. For medium details and 1366x768 pixels we recommend a GeForce GT 750M or higher.

Those who want to play the game with high settings, 1920x1080 pixels and 2x MSAA anti-aliasing require a super-strong high-end model like the Radeon HD 8970M, the GeForce GTX 780M or the GeForce GTX 870M. The frame rate increases by almost 35% without anti-aliasing (+30% FXAA vs. 2x MSAA), allowing a GeForce GTX  770M or a GTX 860M to be used. There is currently no single-chip notebook able to display the game at maximum settings: 1920x1080 pixels and 4x MSAA without stuttering. Only the GeForce GTX 880M scratches 35 fps.

Watch Dogs
    1024x768 Low Overall Quality, Medium Textures     1366x768 Medium Overall Quality, Medium Textures     1920x1080 High Overall Quality, High Textures AA:2x MS     1920x1080 Ultra Overall Quality, Ultra Textures AA:4x MS
Radeon R9 280X, 3770K
Desktop-PC
73.6 (min: 58) fps ∼70%
60.6 (min: 47) fps ∼67%
46.4 (min: 32) fps ∼72%
34.6 (min: 25) fps ∼65%
GeForce GTX 880M, 4700MQ
Schenker W504
88.1 (min: 71) fps ∼84%
74.3 (min: 59) fps ∼82%
44.4 (min: 39) fps ∼69%
32.9 (min: 28) fps ∼61%
GeForce GTX 660 Ti, 3770K
Desktop-PC
87.3 (min: 70) fps ∼83%
76 (min: 61) fps ∼84%
43.4 (min: 38) fps ∼67%
31.7 (min: 26) fps ∼59%
GeForce GTX 780M, 4700MQ
Schenker W503
83 (min: 67) fps ∼79%
72.1 (min: 57) fps ∼80%
40.9 (min: 35) fps ∼63%
30.4 (min: 25) fps ∼57%
GeForce GTX 870M, 4700MQ
Schenker W504
85.7 (min: 65) fps ∼81%
73.8 (min: 60) fps ∼82%
37.4 (min: 33) fps ∼58%
26.8 (min: 22) fps ∼50%
Radeon HD 8970M, 4700MQ
Schenker W503
65.4 (min: 50) fps ∼62%
53.5 (min: 39) fps ∼59%
35 (min: 28) fps ∼54%
26.3 (min: 21) fps ∼49%
GeForce GTX 770M, 4700MQ
Schenker W503
80.7 (min: 64) fps ∼77%
66.1 (min: 58) fps ∼73%
27.7 (min: 23) fps ∼43%
19.8 (min: 14) fps ∼37%
GeForce GTX 860M, 4700MQ
Schenker W504
81.7 (min: 66) fps ∼78%
68.6 (min: 58) fps ∼76%
27 (min: 24) fps ∼42%
18.9 (min: 14) fps ∼35%
GeForce GTX 765M, 4700MQ
Schenker W503
81.3 (min: 67) fps ∼77%
56.9 (min: 51) fps ∼63%
21.1 (min: 19) fps ∼33%
GeForce GTX 850M, 4340M
Schenker M504
60.4 (min: 47) fps ∼57%
51.8 (min: 41) fps ∼57%
20.7 (min: 18) fps ∼32%
GeForce GT 750M, 4702MQ
Schenker M503
57.2 (min: 51) fps ∼54%
35.2 (min: 30) fps ∼39%
12.2 (min: 10) fps ∼19%
GeForce GT 740M, 4200M
HP Envy 15-j011sg
40.1 (min: 33) fps ∼38%
25 (min: 21) fps ∼28%
8.1 (min: 6) fps ∼13%
Radeon R7 in A10-7850K, A10-7850K, Samsung SSD 470 Series MZ-5PA256/EU
Kaveri Asus A88-XM-PLUS
36.6 (min: 28) fps ∼35%
25.8 (min: 22) fps ∼29%
8.1 (min: 5) fps ∼13%
GeForce GT 720M, 4200M, WDC Scorpio Blue WD10JPVX-22JC3T0
MSI CX61-i572M
33.5 fps ∼32%
19.7 fps ∼22%
6.2 fps ∼10%
Iris Pro Graphics 5200, 4750HQ, Intel SSD 525 Series SSDMCEAC180B3
Schenker S413
33.1 (min: 24) fps ∼31%
21.9 (min: 18) fps ∼24%
6.1 (min: 4) fps ∼9%
Radeon HD 8650G, A10-5750M, Samsung SSD 470 Series MZ-5PA256/EU
Pumori Test Platform (A10-5750M)
22.1 (min: 16) fps ∼21%
15.8 (min: 10) fps ∼17%
HD Graphics 4600, 4700MQ
Schenker W503
24.4 (min: 22) fps ∼23%
14.1 (min: 12) fps ∼16%
3.6 (min: 2) fps ∼6%

Processor Performance Benchmarks

We paired an Nvidia GeForce GTX 680 desktop graphics card with four different CPUs to evaluate the impact of differently powerful processors. Not even at minimum settings does the slow A4-5300 with a Piledriver module (2 integer, 1 FP core) reach smooth frame rates.

Furthermore, we concluded from the results of the octa-core FX-8650 (4 Piledriver modules) that the additional cores are used in comparison to the Kaveri quad-core. The Intel architecture, however, suits Watch Dogs best, as can be seen from the results of the older Sandy Bridge top model.

Benchmarks of a GeForce GTX 680 with different desktop CPUs.
Benchmarks of a GeForce GTX 680 with different desktop CPUs.

Test Systems

Four of our test devices are courtesy of Schenker Technologies (mysn.de):

  • W504 (Core i7-4700MQ, 8 GB DDR3, GeForce GTX 860M, GTX 870M, GTX 880M)
  • W503 (Core i7-4700MQ, 8 GB DDR3, GeForce GTX 765M, GTX 770M, GTX 780M, Radeon HD 8970M)
  • M504 (Core i5-4340M, 8 GB DDR3, GeForce GTX 850M)
  • M503 (Core i7-4702MQ, 8 GB DDR3, GeForce GT 750M)

The 64-bit edition of Windows 7 is installed on each of these notebooks. Thanks to 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)

GPU drivers used: Nvidia 337.88, AMD 14.6 Beta, Intel 15.33.18.64.3496

Furthermore, we used benchmarks of other notebooks with possibly different drivers.

Overview

Show Restrictions
Pos      Model                                     Watch Dogs
 Watch Dogs (2014)
low
1024x768
Low Overall Quality, Medium Textures
med.
1366x768
Medium Overall Quality, Medium Textures
high
1920x1080
High Overall Quality, High Textures
2x MSAA
ultra
1920x1080
Ultra Overall Quality, Ultra Textures
4x MSAA
 2NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980
94.9
82.3
64.6
53.6
 3NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M SLI
103.6
89.4
63.9
45.5
 4NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti
94.4
79.7
62.7
52.2
 11AMD Radeon R9 290X
45
35.4
 12NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M
86.82
74.052
54.52
43.652
 13AMD Radeon R9 280X
73.6
60.6
46.4
34.6
 14NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M
105.4
90.4
49.4
34.4
 15NVIDIA GeForce GTX 860M SLI
84.3
60
18.9
14.6
 16NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680
82
71
48
28.7
 21NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760
96.2
80.4
41.1
 22NVIDIA GeForce GTX 880M
75.32
63.72
40.93
30.93
 23NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 Ti
87.3
76
43.4
31.7
 25NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M
83
72.1
40.9
30.4
 29NVIDIA GeForce GTX 870M
82.352
71.42
34.72
25.42
 31AMD Radeon HD 8970M
65.4
53.5
35
26.3
 39NVIDIA GeForce GTX 750 Ti
85.7
72.4
29.4
 45NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770M
80.7
66.1
27.7
19.8
 46NVIDIA GeForce GTX 860M
61.64
53.24
26.84
18.9
 55NVIDIA GeForce GTX 850M
63.23
52.83
20.83
15.752
Pos      Model                                     Watch Dogs
lowmed.highultra
 60NVIDIA GeForce GTX 765M
81.3
56.9
21.1
 111NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M
57.2
35.2
12.2
 113NVIDIA GeForce 840M
37.43
27.93
14.13
6.052
 119AMD Radeon R7 in A10-7850K APU (Kaveri)
36.6
25.8
8.1
 120Intel Iris Pro Graphics 5200
33.1
21.9
6.1
 121AMD Radeon R7 in A10-7700K APU (Kaveri)
34.1
24.5
8
 122NVIDIA GeForce GT 740M
40.1
25
8.1
 123NVIDIA GeForce 830M
18.8
14.9
 141NVIDIA GeForce GT 730M
35.5
21.9
6.2
 147AMD Radeon R7 M265
30.2
21.6
3.2
2.1
 152NVIDIA GeForce GT 640M
33.8
25.4
5.9
 177AMD Radeon R6 (Kaveri)
17.5
 203AMD Radeon HD 7660D
32.3
22.3
6.2
 221AMD Radeon HD 8650G
22.1
15.8
 226NVIDIA GeForce GT 630M
28
16.8
 233NVIDIA GeForce GT 720M
33.5
19.7
6.2
 236AMD Radeon R5 M230
19.5
10.4
8.3
3.2
 247Intel HD Graphics 4600
24.4
14.1
3.6
 252AMD Radeon HD 7660G
18.7
 257Intel HD Graphics 5000
18.1
11.6
Pos      Model                                     Watch Dogs
lowmed.highultra
 273AMD Radeon HD 8550G
20.3
14.8
 286Intel HD Graphics 4400
13.72
10.752
2.352
 324Intel HD Graphics 4000
12.7
 327AMD Radeon R5 (Beema)
9.5
7.3
2.1
0.7
 337AMD Radeon HD 8450G
12.8
 352AMD Radeon HD 8350G
11.2
* 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.
Read all 9 comments / answer
static version load dynamic
Loading comments

Comment this article:

> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Watch Dogs Benchmarked
Author: Florian Glaser, 2014-06- 1 (Update: 2014-06- 3)