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Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag Benchmarked

A paradise for pirates. Ubisoft offers a new scenario for the holiday season with Assassin's Creed IV. We analyzed the performance and show you what GPU you need to raise the black flag.
Florian Glaser, Sabine Kückemanns (translated by Andreas Osthoff), 🇩🇪
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Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag

For the original German article, see here.

Graphics

Assassin's Creed IV is a very good title in regard to the graphics. Compared to other action titles Black Flag has a very high texture quality and both the water and light effects fulfill the expectations of a title from 2013. We are especially impressed by the high level of detail, which has been noticeably raised for Black Flag. The in-house AnvilNext engine, which - in a different form - was also used for Assassin's Creed III, creates a rich flora on the screen. The first level takes place on an idyllic island and is a tutorial at the same time. It reminds us of the current Tomb Raider in terms of graphics and level of detail. 

Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag

But there is also criticism with Black Flag. Some objects just pop up without a soft transition. It is rather absurd when other characters just appear out of nothing and suddenly disappear again. Ubisoft should put some work into this and the somewhat awkward (facial) animations. Some more pixels here and there would have been nice as well.

We want to praise the clear layout of the graphics settings that are always accessible; you can even change all the settings without a restart. There are numerous technical features like volumetric fog, ambient occlusion (SSAO or HBAO+) and the so-called god rays. While you can just activate or deactivate some options, you can choose between (Very) Low up to (Very) High when it comes to the quality settings. The developer deserves credit for the high number of anti-aliasing modes. Besides the less complex post-FX versions SMAA and FXAA you can also use the more demanding MSAA, EQAA (AMD) and CSAA or TXAA (Nvidia) respectively. 

Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag

One reason for AMD's slight disadvantage compared to its main rival is that Black Flag is a member of Nvidia's TWIMTBP program. We can also see a negative impact on the performance from the Enduro technology with AMD notebooks (compare HD 8970M and GTX 680M, for instance). We did not determine any serious technical issues during the benchmarks; we only encountered graphical issues with Intel GPUs in some settings (probably a problem with the driver).

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

Benchmark

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Looking at the hardware requirements we can see that the benchmark is on an average level. There are certainly less demanding and also more complex levels in the game. We use the tool Fraps to record a one minute run through Havana (from the docks to the center of the town and back, see video). An average result of 30 fps or more indicates playable settings.

Results

Black Flag is hardly playable with Intel GPUs like the 4000 or 4600. The frame rate does not reach 25 fps, even with the lowest settings and 1024x768 pixels. The AMD Radeon HD 7660G and slow low-end GPUs like the GeForce GT 630M are basically insufficient for Assassin's Creed IV as well. Normal details and 1366x768 pixels require at least a mainstream GPU like the GeForce GT 640M.

Are high settings and anti-aliasing important to you? Then you should at least have a notebook with a high-end GPU like the GeForce GTX 670MX or GTX 765M. Only the GeForce GTX 780M is currently powerful enough for a combination of 1920x1080 pixels, maximum details, HBAO+ and 4x MSAA (we do not look at dual GPU solutions at this point).

The hardware requirements are quite high, but still reasonable when you consider the visual quality. By the way, more than 60 fps are not displayed, even with deactivated VSync.

Assassin´s Creed IV: Black Flag
    1920x1080 (Very) High / On / HBAO+ (PhysX off) AA:4x MS     1366x768 High / On / SSAO (PhysX Off) AA:2x MS     1366x768 Normal / Off     1024x768 (Very) Low / Off
HD Graphics 4000, 3610QM
Schenker XMG P502
3.6 (0min) fps ∼6%
7.4 (0min) fps ∼12%
17.4 (0min) fps ∼28%
23.6 (0min) fps ∼29%
Radeon HD 7660G, A10-4600M, Samsung SSD 830 Series MZ-7PC0128D/EU
AMD Pumori Platform A10-4600M
4.4 (1min) fps ∼7%
10.7 (8min) fps ∼17%
20.5 (14min) fps ∼33%
25 (16min) fps ∼31%
HD Graphics 4600, 4702MQ
Schenker M503
4.7 (0min) fps ∼8%
8.9 (0min) fps ∼14%
18.4 (0min) fps ∼29%
24.8 (0min) fps ∼31%
GeForce GT 630M, 3720QM
Asus N56VM
5.2 (4min) fps ∼9%
10.6 (8min) fps ∼17%
18.1 (13min) fps ∼29%
23.8 (17min) fps ∼29%
Iris Pro Graphics 5200, 4750HQ, Intel SSD 525 Series SSDMCEAC180B3
Schenker S413
7.5 (6min) fps ∼13%
14.8 (12min) fps ∼23%
28.5 (21min) fps ∼45%
35.8 (25min) fps ∼44%
GeForce GT 640M, 2637M, Lite-On LMT-256M3M
Acer Aspire M3-581TG
9.5 (6min) fps ∼16%
18.5 (16min) fps ∼29%
32.1 (26min) fps ∼51%
40.3 (26min) fps ∼50%
GeForce GT 750M, 4702MQ
Schenker M503
10.8 (0min) fps ∼18%
23.4 (0min) fps ∼37%
38.1 (0min) fps ∼60%
51.9 (0min) fps ∼64%
GeForce GTX 660M, 3610QM
Schenker XMG P502
13.6 (0min) fps ∼23%
26.4 (0min) fps ∼42%
45.3 (0min) fps ∼72%
57.2 (0min) fps ∼70%
GeForce GTX 670MX, 3610QM
Schenker XMG P502
16.3 (0min) fps ∼27%
31.8 (0min) fps ∼50%
50.2 (0min) fps ∼80%
61 (0min) fps ∼75%
GeForce GTX 765M, 4700MQ
Schenker W503
18.4 (0min) fps ∼31%
35.4 (0min) fps ∼56%
58.8 (0min) fps ∼93%
61.7 (0min) fps ∼76%
GeForce GTX 675MX, 3610QM
Schenker XMG P502
21 (0min) fps ∼35%
39.8 (0min) fps ∼63%
59.4 (0min) fps ∼94%
61.4 (0min) fps ∼76%
GeForce GTX 770M, 4700MQ
Schenker W503
24.9 (0min) fps ∼42%
44 (0min) fps ∼70%
61.4 (0min) fps ∼97%
61.7 (0min) fps ∼76%
GeForce GTX 680M, 3610QM
Schenker XMG P502
26.2 (0min) fps ∼44%
47.2 (0min) fps ∼75%
60.6 (0min) fps ∼96%
61.5 (0min) fps ∼76%
Radeon HD 7970M, 3610QM
Schenker XMG P502
26.7 (0min) fps ∼45%
40.9 (0min) fps ∼65%
42.4 (0min) fps ∼67%
44.6 (0min) fps ∼55%
Radeon HD 8970M, 4700MQ
Schenker W503
27.7 (0min) fps ∼46%
45 (0min) fps ∼71%
46.8 (0min) fps ∼74%
49.7 (0min) fps ∼61%
GeForce GTX 780M, 4700MQ
Schenker W503
35.6 (0min) fps ∼59%
58.3 (0min) fps ∼93%
61.6 (0min) fps ∼98%
62 (0min) fps ∼76%
GeForce GTX 660 Ti, 3770K
Desktop-PC
37.3 (0min) fps ∼62%
61.2 (0min) fps ∼97%
61.8 (0min) fps ∼98%
62.1 (0min) fps ∼76%
Radeon R9 280X, 3770K
Desktop-PC
42.8 (0min) fps ∼71%
61.7 (0min) fps ∼98%
61.7 (0min) fps ∼98%
61.7 (0min) fps ∼76%
GeForce GTX 680, 2600K, Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256GB MZ7PD256HAFV-0Z000
Desktop GTX 680, Intel Core i7-2600K
43.1 (34min) fps ∼72%
58.9 (44min) fps ∼93%
59.8 (46min) fps ∼95%
61 (48min) fps ∼75%

Verdict

Assassin's Creed IV is perfect for cold winter evenings. Thanks to the good graphics you will quickly feel at home in the virtual Caribbean. You do, however, need powerful hardware; many options cannot be used without a good GPU and you will have to live with many dropped frames. 

Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag

Test Systems

Our three 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 & 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)

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

GPU drivers used: Nvidia 331.82 WHQL, AMD 13.11 Beta 9.2, Intel 10.18.10.3345

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

Overview

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AMD Radeon Pro WX 3200
AMD Radeon HD 6990M Crossfire
AMD Radeon HD 6990M
AMD Radeon HD 6450M
AMD Radeon HD 6470M
AMD Radeon HD 6350M
AMD Radeon HD 6320
AMD Radeon HD 6970M
NVIDIA Quadro K1000M
AMD Radeon Pro 560X
AMD Radeon Pro WX 3100
AMD Radeon HD 6760G2
AMD Radeon Pro Vega 56
AMD Radeon Pro Vega 20
AMD Radeon HD 6770M
AMD Radeon HD 6775G2
AMD Radeon HD 6545G2
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AMD Radeon HD 6430M
AMD FirePro W5170M
AMD Radeon HD 7520G
AMD Radeon HD 7490M
AMD Radeon HD 7500G
AMD Radeon HD 7480D
19.4
15.5
AMD Radeon HD 7450M
NVIDIA GeForce G 107M
NVIDIA Quadro K3000M
NVIDIA GeForce Go 7400
NVIDIA GeForce GT 420M
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 SLI (Desktop)
NVIDIA GeForce GT 415M
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 SLI (Laptop)
NVIDIA GeForce 8800M GTS
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NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 (Desktop)
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AMD Radeon HD 6540G2
AMD Radeon HD 6380G
AMD Radeon HD 6370M
AMD Radeon HD 6290
AMD Radeon HD 6250
AMD FirePro W2100
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AMD Radeon 530
AMD Radeon HD 6740G2
AMD Radeon HD 7570M
AMD Radeon HD 6520G + HD 7450M Dual Graphics
AMD Radeon HD 6450 GDDR5
AMD Radeon HD 6330M
AMD FirePro W5130M
AMD Radeon 610
NVIDIA Quadro FX 350M
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680M
61.5
60.6
47.2
26.2
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AMD Radeon Pro Vega 16
AMD Radeon HD 6630M
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AMD Radeon HD 7690M
AMD Radeon HD 7340
AMD Radeon HD 7690M XT
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AMD Radeon HD 6620G + HD 7450M Dual Graphics
AMD Radeon HD 6645G2
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AMD Radeon Pro WX 4130
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14.1
10.8
5.1
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15.2
11.8
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61
59.8
58.9
43.1
AMD Radeon HD 7430M
AMD Radeon HD 7420G
AMD Radeon HD 7370M
AMD Radeon HD 7350M
AMD Radeon HD 7400G
Intel HD Graphics 4200
13
9.8
AMD Radeon HD 7850M
Intel HD Graphics (Cherry Trail)
Intel HD Graphics 505
Intel HD Graphics (Broadwell)
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NVIDIA GeForce GTX 675MX
61.4
59.4
39.8
21
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NVIDIA GeForce GTX 675M
NVIDIA GeForce GTS 250M
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670MX SLI
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61
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59.6
58.5
53.5
31.1
NVIDIA Quadro FX Go 1000
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 880M
62
59
57
35
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 860M SLI
AMD Radeon HD 6790
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AMD Radeon HD 6550M
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(-) * Smaller values are better. / n123 Number of benchmarks for this median value / * 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
60Fluent – Based on all known benchmarks using the specified graphical settings, this game should run at or above 58fps
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.
?Uncertain – 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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Florian Glaser
Editor of the original article: Florian Glaser - Managing Editor Gaming Laptops - 634 articles published on Notebookcheck since 2009
I discovered my interest in computers in my childhood, growing up with MS-DOS and Windows 3.1 in the early 1990s. I was especially fascinated with computer games, even from an early age. From Monkey Island through Lands of Lore to Doom, I tried every game I could get my hands on. I have been working for Notebookcheck since 2009 with my focus mostly being on high-performance gaming laptops.
Andreas Osthoff
Translator: Andreas Osthoff - Managing Editor Business Laptops - 1266 articles published on Notebookcheck since 2013
I grew up with modern consumer electronics and my first computer was a Commodore C64, which encouraged my interest in building my own systems. I started working as a review editor for Notebookcheck during my dual studies at Siemens. Currently, I am mainly responsible for dealing with business laptops and mobile workstations. It’s a great experience to be able to review the latest devices and technologies and then compare them with each other.
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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Archive of our own reviews > Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag Benchmarked
Florian Glaser, 2013-11-27 (Update: 2021-05-18)