Notebookcheck

Assassin's Creed Unity Benchmarked

Florian Glaser (translated by Bernie Pechlaner), 11/23/2014

Fun or an imposition? Assassin's Creed Unity is yet another entry in the never-ending list of unfinished games. High demands on the hardware combined with technical bugs are a constant source of aggravation. We'll try to determine just how powerful a notebook has to be to handle this game.

Working For Notebookcheck

Are you a techie who knows how to write? Then join our Team!

Currently wanted: 
News Editor - Details here
Italian Translator
 - Details here

Assassin's Creed Unity Logo

Visually, Assassin's Creed Unity is definitely one of the best-looking titles for PCs we have come across in recent years. While some FPS games like Crysis 3, Battlefield 4 or Metro: Last Light have textures that are sharper still, Unity does look impressive for a third-person shooter game. One of the positive aspects is the richness of the details, as hardly any other current game is based on such an affectionately constructed and believable world. In almost any corner, there are nice decorative items (plants, furniture, etc.). Really impressive, for example, is the population density of virtual Paris. Because of all the fellow citizens, it never feels like you are stuck in a sterile "quarantine zone", which is an issue with some games. The visibility range of the new offshoot, combined with the freedom of movement inherent to the series, makes for a very satisfying ambiance.

Assassin's Creed Unity
Assassin's Creed Unity
Assassin's Creed Unity
Assassin's Creed Unity
Assassin's Creed Unity
Assassin's Creed Unity

Unfortunately, the game is still plagued by technical issues which mar the overall experience. One of the main problems, in our opinion, are the demands on the hardware. Even the official requirements allude to the fact that Assassin's Creed Unity needs plenty of CPU and GPU power:  according to Ubisoft, it should be a potent quad-core CPU and a high-end GPU alongside 6-8 GB of RAM, 40 GB of hard drive space and 64-bit Windows with DirectX 11 support.

From a technical standpoint, it's an "all clear" for Intel CPUs: as long as the notebook in question contains at least a dual-core or quad-core processor with Turbo Boost and Hyper-Threading, the GPU and not the CPU is the limiting factor. A main point of criticism: Unity just doesn't seem like it's been optimized well. Even with a top-of-the-line GPU, the frame rates sometimes unexpectedly (and inexplicably) drop and game play stutters as a result. The performance, of course, depends on many factors: depending on the time of day (light and shadows), the toll on the GPU varies greatly. We were unable to achieve more than 100 fps, no matter which graphics card we tried.

At this time, AMD-equipped notebooks - see Assassin's Creed III – are heavily disadvantaged. Even in version 1.2.0 of the game, equivalent Nvidia GPUs are simply faster, especially at moderate settings (example: R9 M290X vs. GTX 870M). Not really surprising, given the fact that Unity was co-developed by Nvidia. The game does have a few interesting features like HBAO+ (ambient occlusion), PCSS+ (soft shadows) and TXAA (anti-aliasing), which also partially work with "foreign" hardware.

Assassin's Creed Unity
Assassin's Creed Unity
Assassin's Creed Unity
Assassin's Creed Unity
Assassin's Creed Unity
Assassin's Creed Unity

Let's revisit the performance one more time: Ubisoft is supposedly working on patches which will address the hardware requirements. This of course would mean that future benchmark results are not going to be comparable to our results here. We hope that Ubisoft will also fix the stability issues at the same time, since Unity crashed every once in a while on a few of our test systems.

The graphics menu, on the other hand, is without faults. Even though there are only a handful of options in the »Advanced« section, these options do have a profound effect on the quality. For our benchmarks we use the presets »Low«, »Medium«, »High« and »Ultra High«, which all require a restart of the game. A tip for those who don't like to play at the native resolution, but find that the game won't use the entire desktop: in this case, switching to windowed mode and then back to full screen rectifies the situation. Game load times are a mixed bag: the main menu takes a while to appear, but during the game play itself  we didn't experience any significant delays.

Assassin's Creed Unity
Assassin's Creed Unity
Assassin's Creed Unity
Assassin's Creed Unity
Assassin's Creed Unity
Assassin's Creed Unity

Benchmark

To determine the frame rate, we use our own benchmark sequence. After the main character gets his watch back following a chase conducted at breakneck speeds, we are able to freely wander around Paris for the first time. Not just because of the sheer number of characters, the 50-second run through the city (see the video) is pretty demanding, although some scenes require even more processing power.

Results

To get the most out of Assassin's Creed Unity, an absolute high-end system is required. None of the notebook systems we tested with allowed for a stutter-free game play when we used a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels, ultra-high details and 4x MSAA. It will probably take a GeForce GTX 970M or GTX 980M to achieve frame rates above 25 fps. A resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels with the settings on »High« (2x MSAA) is still quite demanding - we would recommend at least a GeForce GTX 870M or the GTX 780M.NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M

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

A true gaming notebook is required even for medium details and a resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels, as it takes at least a GeForce GTX 850M or GTX 765M to approach 30 fps. Owners of less powerful multimeda notebooks have to choose the preset »Low«. Graphics cards under the level of a GT 750M are simply not usable at all at any of the settings. Once Ubisoft has done some work optimizing the game, we expect Unity to run even on more entry-level notebooks.

Quality journalism is made possible by advertising. We show the least amount of ads whenever possible. We intentionally show more ads when an adblocker is used. Please, switch off ad blockers.

Assassin's Creed Unity
    1920x1080 Ultra High Graphics Quality AA:4x MS     1920x1080 High Graphics Quality AA:2x MS     1366x768 Medium Graphics Quality AA:FX     1024x768 Low Graphics Quality
GeForce GTX 980, 3770K
Desktop-PC
43.6 (min: 39) fps ∼79%
52.8 (min: 46) fps ∼63%
70 (min: 60) fps ∼60%
78.4 (min: 67) fps ∼55%
Radeon R9 290X, 4790K, Intel SSD 530 Series SSDSC2BW240A
Sapphire Radeon R9 290X Tri-X OC
31.9 (min: 28) fps ∼58%
46 (min: 40) fps ∼55%
67 (min: 53) fps ∼58%
68 (min: 55) fps ∼48%
GeForce GTX 880M, 4700MQ
Schenker W504
23.9 (min: 21) fps ∼43%
32.2 (min: 28) fps ∼39%
58.3 (min: 51) fps ∼50%
70.3 (min: 60) fps ∼50%
Radeon R9 280X, 3770K
Desktop-PC
23.8 (min: 18) fps ∼43%
31.3 (min: 23) fps ∼37%
43.6 (min: 32) fps ∼38%
49.3 (min: 36) fps ∼35%
GeForce GTX 780M, 4700MQ
Schenker W503
21.1 (min: 18) fps ∼38%
28.4 (min: 24) fps ∼34%
52.5 (min: 44) fps ∼45%
65.7 (min: 54) fps ∼46%
GeForce GTX 870M, 4700MQ
Schenker W504
18.8 (min: 16) fps ∼34%
26.2 (min: 23) fps ∼31%
51.3 (min: 46) fps ∼44%
64.4 (min: 56) fps ∼45%
Radeon R9 M290X, 4700MQ
Schenker W504
18.1 (min: 15) fps ∼33%
24.4 (min: 20) fps ∼29%
39 (min: 32) fps ∼34%
44.7 (min: 35) fps ∼31%
GeForce GTX 770M, 4700MQ
Schenker W503
14.3 (min: 9) fps ∼26%
19.1 (min: 16) fps ∼23%
36.1 (min: 31) fps ∼31%
48.8 (min: 42) fps ∼34%
GeForce GTX 860M, 4700MQ
Schenker W504
13.1 (min: 11) fps ∼24%
18.3 (min: 15) fps ∼22%
36.2 (min: 32) fps ∼31%
50.1 (min: 42) fps ∼35%
GeForce GTX 850M, 4340M
Schenker M504
9.6 (min: 7) fps ∼17%
15 (min: 11) fps ∼18%
31.1 (min: 28) fps ∼27%
44.7 (min: 39) fps ∼31%
GeForce GTX 765M, 4700MQ
Schenker W503
8.8 (min: 4) fps ∼16%
14.4 (min: 12) fps ∼17%
28.8 (min: 24) fps ∼25%
41.8 (min: 36) fps ∼29%
GeForce GT 750M, 4702MQ
Schenker M503
5.7 (min: 4) fps ∼10%
8.7 (min: 7) fps ∼10%
19.4 (min: 17) fps ∼17%
27.4 (min: 23) fps ∼19%
Radeon R7 512 Cores (Kaveri Desktop), A10-7850K, Samsung SSD 470 Series MZ-5PA256/EU
A10-7850K Asus A88-XM-PLUS
16.9 (min: 14) fps ∼15%
24.3 (min: 19) fps ∼17%
GeForce GT 740M, 4200M
HP Envy 15-j011sg
3.9 (min: 2) fps ∼7%
5.8 (min: 4) fps ∼7%
13.4 (min: 12) fps ∼12%
20.1 (min: 17) fps ∼14%
GeForce GT 640M, 2637M, Lite-On LMT-256M3M
Acer Aspire M3-581TG
9.1 (min: 4) fps ∼6%
GeForce GT 720M, 4200M, WDC Scorpio Blue WD10JPVX-22JC3T0
MSI CX61-i572M
10.1 fps ∼9%
14.3 fps ∼10%
HD Graphics 4600, 4700MQ
Schenker W503
5.4 (min: 2) fps ∼5%
8.5 (min: 6) fps ∼6%
Iris Pro Graphics 5200, 4750HQ, Intel SSD 525 Series SSDMCEAC180B3
Schenker S413
8 (min: 4) fps ∼6%
Radeon HD 8650G, A10-5750M, Samsung SSD 470 Series MZ-5PA256/EU
Pumori Test Platform (A10-5750M)
14.2 (min: 10) fps ∼10%
GeForce GT 630M, 3720QM, Seagate Momentus 7200.5 ST9750420AS
Asus N56VM
11.6 (min: 3) fps ∼8%

Test Systems

Four of our review notebooks are courtesy of Schenker Technologies:

  • W504 (Core i7-4700MQ, 8 GB DDR3, GeForce GTX 860M, GTX 870M, GTX 880M, Radeon R9 M290X)
  • W503 (Core i7-4700MQ, 8 GB DDR3, GeForce GTX 765M, GTX 770M, GTX 780M)
  • M504 (Core i5-4340M, 8 GB DDR3, GeForce GTX 850M)
  • M503 (Core i7-4702MQ, 8 GB DDR3, GeForce GT 750M)

All these notebooks feature Windows 7 64-bit.

Nvidia supplied the following systems:

One notebook is courtesy of Intel:

  • Schenker S413 (Core i7-4750HQ, 8 GB DDR3, Iris Pro Graphics 5200)

The desktop systems come with CPUs/APUs from Intel and AMD,  Micron, Intel, and Samsung SSDs, motherboards from Intel and Asus, as well as GPUs from Nvidia and AMD.

GPU drivers: Nvidia 344.65, AMD 14.11.1 Beta, Intel 10.18.10.3960

Overview

Show Restrictions
</
Pos      Model                                     Assassin's Creed Unity
 Assassin's Creed Unity (2014)
low
1024x768
Low Graphics Quality
med.
1366x768
Medium Graphics Quality
FXAA
high
1920x1080
High Graphics Quality
2x MSAA
ultra
1920x1080
Ultra High Graphics Quality
4x MSAA
 
 
 26NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 (Laptop)
140.72
115.552
792
43.052
 
 
 58NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M
773
63.33
42.13
30.854
 85NVIDIA GeForce GTX 880M
70.3
58.3
32.2
23.9
 
 67NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M
67.12
55.52
38.44
22.84
 
 92NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M
65.7
52.5
28.4
21.1
 
 100NVIDIA GeForce GTX 870M
64.4
51.3
26.2
18.8
 101AMD Radeon R9 M290X
44.7
39
24.4
18.1
 
 
 75AMD Radeon R9 M295X
35.1
32.7
26.6
15.6
 132NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770M
48.8
36.1
19.1
14.3
 98NVIDIA GeForce GTX 965M
27.452
21.22
14.752
13.73
Pos      Model                                     Assassin's Creed Unity
lowmed.highultra
 156NVIDIA GeForce 945M
44.8
30.1
18.1
12.4
 116NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M
50.83
39.23
26.13
11.33
 135NVIDIA GeForce GTX 860M
40.952
32.62
19.752
10.252
 
 147NVIDIA GeForce GTX 850M
41.83
31.13
17.23
9.63
 157NVIDIA GeForce GTX 765M
41.8
28.8
14.4
8.8
 143NVIDIA GeForce GTX 950M
44.052
30.62
16.052
8.4
 224NVIDIA GeForce 940MX
29.4
17.9
12.1
8.3
 227NVIDIA GeForce 940M
28.33
17.33
11
7.8
 220NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M
27.4
19.4
8.7
5.7
 238NVIDIA GeForce 840M
26.92
182
9.32
5.7
 294AMD Radeon R7 M360
20
13.3
8.1
5.4
 
 247NVIDIA GeForce GT 740M
20.1
13.4
5.8
3.9
 296NVIDIA GeForce 920M
19.5
12.6
6.1
3.9
 252NVIDIA GeForce 830M
24.7
15.9
9.6
3.1
 417Intel HD Graphics 5500
8.42
6.052
3.052
1.1
 
 
 
Pos      Model                                     Assassin's Creed Unity
lowmed.highultra
 
 
 
 
 8NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 (Laptop)
 
 
 
 14NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Max-Q
 15NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 (Laptop)
 
 
 19NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Pos      Model                                     Assassin's Creed Unity
lowmed.highultra
 33NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 (Laptop)
 
 36AMD Radeon RX 580 (Laptop)
 
 39*AMD Radeon RX Vega M GH
 
 
 42NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 Max-Q
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 60*AMD Radeon RX Vega M GL / 870
 
 64NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti (Notebook)
Pos      Model                                     Assassin's Creed Unity
lowmed.highultra
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 79NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 (Notebook)
 
 
 88*AMD Radeon RX 560 (Laptop)
 
 
 94NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680MX
 
 
 
 102AMD Radeon HD 8970M
 
 
Pos      Model                                     Assassin's Creed Unity
lowmed.highultra
 107AMD Radeon RX 460 (Laptop)
 108NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680M
 110AMD Radeon R9 M390
 
 112AMD Radeon HD 7970M
 114AMD Radeon Pro 460
 
 118AMD Radeon RX 550 (Laptop)
 
 
 
 123AMD Radeon Pro 555
 124AMD Radeon Pro 455
 
 126NVIDIA GeForce MX150
 
 
 
 134*AMD Radeon Pro WX 3100 Mobile
 
Pos      Model                                     Assassin's Creed Unity
lowmed.highultra
 
 
 
 
 141NVIDIA GeForce GTX 675MX
 
 144AMD Radeon Pro 450
 146AMD Radeon R9 M385X
 
 
 150AMD Radeon R9 M280X
22.7
20.6
14.7
 151*AMD Radeon RX Vega 11
 
 
 
 
 
 
 162*AMD Radeon RX Vega 10
 164Intel Iris Pro Graphics 580
Pos      Model                                     Assassin's Creed Unity
lowmed.highultra
 
 166NVIDIA GeForce GTX 675M
 167NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580M
 168AMD Radeon HD 6990M
 
 173NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M SLI
 
 
 176NVIDIA GeForce GTX 485M
 
 
 
 
 182AMD Radeon R9 M370X
 183NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670MX
 
 185NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760M
 186AMD Radeon R9 M275
 187NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670M
 188NVIDIA Maxwell GPU Surface Book (940M, GDDR5)
Pos      Model                                     Assassin's Creed Unity
lowmed.highultra
 
 191AMD Radeon HD 6970M
 193AMD Radeon HD 8870M
 
 196NVIDIA GeForce GTX 570M
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 205NVIDIA GeForce GT 755M
 206NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660M
 207NVIDIA GeForce 845M
 208AMD Radeon HD 8850M
 210AMD Radeon R9 M265X
30.1
21
11.4
 213AMD Radeon HD 8790M
 
 
Pos      Model                                     Assassin's Creed Unity
lowmed.highultra
 
 
 218NVIDIA GeForce GTX 470M
 219NVIDIA GeForce GTX 480M
 
 223NVIDIA GeForce MX130
 226*AMD Radeon RX Vega 8
 228NVIDIA GeForce 930MX
 
 
 231AMD Radeon R9 M375