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Company of Heroes 2 Benchmarked

War is taxing. With their new title Company of Heroes, the Canadian developer Relic wants to reach the top of the real-time strategy game charts. Alongside the pure gameplay, the title's visuals are also supposed to enchant the senses. Has the developer stepped up the hardware demands too?
Florian Glaser, Sabine Kückemanns (translated by Ariana Brodsky), 🇩🇪 🇫🇷
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Company of Heroes 2 Logo

Description

For the original German article, see here.

It's been just under seven years now since the real-time strategy experts at Relic (Warhammer 40k) released their first installment of Company of Heroes, highly praised by the press and gamers alike. Now at long last the wait for the next title is over. While the first part took place in the west (France, etc.), part two is set in the east, in the land of the Soviets.

As soon as you see the main menu, you know Company of Heroes 2 offers a whole lot of variety. Campaign, Multiplayer, Skirmish, Challenges, Co-op, Army Customizer, Broadcasting: It seems like an inexhaustible range of possibilities. Due to time constraints, we're going to stick to the single-player mode in this article. In this mode we tested four missions.

For an RTS game, Company of Heroes 2 is very heavy on the narrative. Unlike some of their rivals, the developers try to tell a genuine story. The initial situation can be easily summarized - Company of Heroes 2 revolves around a Soviet army lieutenant named Isakovich, who is being held captive and interrogated by some of his fellow countrymen in a Siberian internment camp (did someone say Black Ops?). Through flashbacks the player can take part in past deployments.

Though the story isn't mind-blowing, you always feel motivated to fight the next battle. Based on our experience, the narrative quality falls somewhere between Command & Conquer and a Blizzard production (StarCraft, Warcraft). Unfortunately, the figures in the video sequences are somewhat stiff and long-legged.

The short intro video is skillfully staged.
The short intro video is skillfully staged.
The missions are introduced through film sequences.
The missions are introduced through film sequences.
The game doesn't reach the level of StarCraft II in that area.
The game doesn't reach the level of StarCraft II in that area.
The main character remembers his past.
The main character remembers his past.
The engine isn't optimal for close-ups.
The engine isn't optimal for close-ups.
All the briefings are set to music.
All the briefings are set to music.

On the battlefield, Company of Heroes makes a very good impression. The first mission already scores points for its high "ka-boom" factor, which sets the stage for the rest of the production. Everywhere you look things are booming and banging, much like in Call of Duty.

Still, anyone dreading a brainless brouhaha of an action game can breathe freely. At its core, Company of Heroes 2 is surprisingly tactical and challenging. While many competing titles just bring out one tank after another, eventually enabling the gamer to simply roll over opponents, in Company of Heroes 2 you'll have to pay attention to every little detail. Of course the Russians are notorious for their cannon fodder tactics (quantity before quality), but blindly storming forward often turns out to be a mistake.

As is fitting for a good RTS title, a brutal rock-paper-scissors principle permeates the game. For example: 08/15 soldiers, who aren't within range of grenades or Molotov cocktails, are torn to pieces by an MG nest in the blink of an eye. Fortified units have to protect themselves from engineers, who are equipped with flame-throwers. The cover system, which is useful for flanking purposes, plays an especially important roll. The quality of a cover is represented by points and indicators in various colors.

The game often revolves around capturing points.
The game often revolves around capturing points.
The explosion effects are terrific.
The explosion effects are terrific.
There are several night-time operations.
There are several night-time operations.
Bonfires serve as sources of warmth for the soldiers.
Bonfires serve as sources of warmth for the soldiers.
The graphics are great across the board.
The graphics are great across the board.
At high settings you see real tracks in the snow.
At high settings you see real tracks in the snow.

Combined with the nerve-wracking mission design, all of this makes for an intense gaming experience. Relic obviously put effort into designing the missions to move at a good speed. Thanks to the changing and/or secondary mission goals (sometimes with time constraints and on various fronts), the player is never allowed the opportunity to take a breather. Nice details like freezing soldiers who have to warm up by a campfire, or tanks that break through ice, enrich the game even more.

The sound is also incontestably magnificent. Such a powerful, realistic and complex sound is a rare find (ex. in Battlefield 3). The explosions and gunshots sound extremely realistic. Add to that decent AI and well thought out controls.

The main menu offers dozens of options.
The main menu offers dozens of options.
Beginners will be pleased to find a number of video tutorials.
Beginners will be pleased to find a number of video tutorials.
You can theoretically spend hours training yourself in the mechanics of the game.
You can theoretically spend hours training yourself in the mechanics of the game.
Each commander has special abilities.
Each commander has special abilities.
Relic has definitely seen to it that players are motivated for the long-term.
Relic has definitely seen to it that players are motivated for the long-term.
You can even change the camouflage colors.
You can even change the camouflage colors.

Benchmark

Company of Heroes 2 has its own integrated benchmark. Although the sequence only lasts a little under 40 seconds, the benchmark is highly suitable for determining the game's performance demands. Since we're talking about a title played from an aerial perspective, unlike ego-shooter games, Company of Heroes 2 doesn't necessarily need to run at more than 30-35 fps. At an average refresh rate of 25 fps the game should be reasonably playable. Relic included in their benchmark an extra pair of computationally intensive scenes that demand a lot from the hardware.

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Graphics

In terms of graphics, there's little to complain about. Aside from the ground textures, Company of Heroes 2 performs very well. Thanks to modern DirectX 11 features like tessellation, depending on the quality level, you get a banquet of options to control the game's visuals. Included in that list is the option to show deep tracks that sink into the surface of the white snow. The developers also deserve respect for their excellent effects. Whether snow, ice, water, fire, smoke or any other particle: Company of Heroes 2 definitely meets our expectations for graphics quality in 2013.

It should be noted that you'll need a DirectX 11 GPU to get the most out of the game's visual atmosphere. Not all graphics improvements can be implemented with an antiquated DirectX 10 GPU. We should also mention the good physics simulation (Havok), which does a spectacular job of showing houses collapse and soldiers skidding around.

 

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

A disadvantage of the great visuals is the huge hardware demands. Even powerful gaming machines (whether notebook or PC) can buckle under the pressure. As our benchmarks show, in some places Company of Heroes 2 requires more hardware performance than Crysis 3.

We also consider it a bit of a shame that you can only change the settings in the main menu. The "Graphics" tab only offers a handful of settings options. There Relic permits the player to tweak the brightness, resolution, image quality, anti-aliasing, vertical synchronization (prevents unpleasant staircase effects), physics and snow/texture details. Provided the system isn't too slow, the ominous "Gameplay Resolution" should always be set to 100%, otherwise the picture will be visibly distorted.

Nice: All changes are adopted without needing to restart the game. At the medium detail setting, Company of Heroes 2 looks quite respectable, though the graphics only reach their full potential at the highest settings. The image quality is far worse at low or minimum details (no shadows, weak textures, dropped frames, etc.)

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

Results

As we've already indicated, Company of Heroes 2 demands a lot from a computer's hardware. While the processor is sometimes the limiting factor in desktop systems, the performance in notebooks is primarily dependent on the graphics card. Intel's processor chips hit their ceiling even at low settings. Even the brand new Haswell HD Graphics 4600 doesn't exceed an average of 15 fps in the integrated benchmark. Users of older mid-range GPUs like the GeForce GT 630M are likely to be unhappy with Company of Heroes 2 (unless they reduce the "Gameplay Resolution").

To play the title somewhat fluidly, you'll need to have at least a GeForce GT 650M installed in your notebook. For normal details and 1366x768 pixels, we recommend a graphics card that crosses the border into the high-end arena (GeForce GTX 660M). For high details and activated anti-aliasing, you'll need a full-blown top-class card like the GeForce GTX 675MX.

A mixture of maximum details, high anti-aliasing and 1920x1080 pixels overtaxes all current notebook GPUs. Only today's top models from AMD and Nvidia (Radeon HD 7970M and GeForce GTX 780M) approach the 25 fps mark. Speaking of manufacturers: Overall, AMD is in the lead.

Benchmark-Tabelle: Company of Heroes 2

Verdict

Real-time strategists will have difficulty keeping themselves away from Company of Heroes 2 this year. Despite minor weaknesses, like the unimpressive story presentation and general lack of innovation, CoH 2 is a high-class RTS game that deserves to be played. Provided you have a potent gaming system, of course, as the hardware demands are rather steep.

 

The water effects are also great.
The water effects are also great.
Things are a lot easier with tanks.
Things are a lot easier with tanks.
The size of the troops varies greatly.
The size of the troops varies greatly.

Test Systems

A big thanks to Schenker Technologies (mysn.de) for the following test devices:

  • XMG P502 (Core i7-3610QM, GeForce GTX 660M, GTX 670M(X), GTX 675M(X), GTX 680M, Radeon HD 7970M & HD Graphics 4000)
  • XMG A502 (Core i5-3360M, GeForce GT 650M)
  • Xesia M501 (Core i7-2630QM, GeForce GT 630M & HD Graphics 3000)
  • Each with 8 GB DDR3-RAM (2x 4096 MB @ 1.600 MHz), 160 GB SSD (Intel 320 Series)  & Windows 7 Professional 64-bit

GPU drivers: Nvidia 320.18, AMD 13.6 Beta 2 & Intel 9.17.10.3062 and 9.18.10.3165. The Beta-ForceWare 320.49 unfortunately arrived a few hours too late (besides the GT 640M and GTX 680).

From left to right: Schenker XMG A502, Xesia M501 & XMG P502
From left to right: Schenker XMG A502, Xesia M501 & XMG P502

Overview

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AMD Radeon RX 490M
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42.7
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35.2
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39.2
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29.67
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NVIDIA GeForce 910M
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19.7n2
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4.1
NVIDIA GeForce 8800M GTS
AMD Radeon R5 M240
16.4
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AMD Radeon R5 M320
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Intel HD Graphics 6000
23
AMD Radeon HD 8550M
Intel Iris Graphics 5100
19.45n2
15.8n2
9.4
4.6
NVIDIA GeForce GT 540M
AMD Radeon HD 6650M
Intel HD Graphics 4600
14.85n2
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2.9
ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5730
Intel HD Graphics 5500
19.45n4
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Qualcomm Adreno 630
Intel UHD Graphics (Jasper Lake 32 EU)
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18.7
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NVIDIA GeForce GT 435M
Intel HD Graphics 5000
13.3
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6
AMD Radeon HD 6550M
AMD Radeon HD 7590M
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AMD Radeon HD 8510G
AMD Radeon HD 6530M
AMD Radeon HD 8550G
17.1
NVIDIA GeForce GT 625M
NVIDIA GeForce GT 620M
NVIDIA GeForce GT 525M
AMD Radeon HD 7610M
15
12
7
3
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AMD Radeon HD 7620G
AMD Radeon HD 7640G
Intel HD Graphics 515
Intel UHD Graphics 610
Intel HD Graphics 610
Intel HD Graphics 4400
12.61n6
9.6n5
5.5n2
2.5n2
AMD Radeon HD 8610G
Intel HD Graphics 510
ATI Mobility Radeon HD 565v
AMD Radeon HD 7550M
ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4670
NVIDIA GeForce GT 425M
NVIDIA GeForce 9700M GTS
NVIDIA GeForce GT 335M
AMD Radeon HD 7600G
ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3870
ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5165
ATI Mobility Radeon HD 560v
ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4650
NVIDIA GeForce GT 420M
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AMD Radeon HD 7530M
ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3850
NVIDIA GeForce GT 330M
NVIDIA GeForce GT 240M
AMD Radeon HD 7490M
Intel UHD Graphics 605
Intel UHD Graphics (Jasper Lake 16 EU)
Intel HD Graphics 505
Intel HD Graphics 5300
8.3
AMD Radeon HD 7510M
NVIDIA GeForce Go 7950 GTX
NVIDIA GeForce 9700M GT
NVIDIA GeForce GT 230M
ATI Mobility Radeon HD 550v
Intel HD Graphics 4000
9.95n4
11.5n3
6.25n2
2.9n2
AMD Radeon HD 6620G
AMD Radeon R4 (Stoney Ridge)
AMD Radeon R5 (Beema/Carrizo-L)
11
8.5
4.2
1
AMD Radeon R4 (Beema)
9.8
6.7
4.2
1.8
AMD Radeon R4 (Kaveri)
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AMD Radeon R3 (Mullins/Beema)
9.7
7.3
AMD Radeon R2 (Stoney Ridge)
Intel HD Graphics (Broadwell)
Intel HD Graphics 4200
8.3
7
4.3
Intel HD Graphics (Skylake)
AMD Radeon HD 7500G
AMD Radeon HD 8450G
10.72n2
11.6
AMD Radeon HD 7470M
AMD Radeon HD 6490M
AMD Radeon HD 8410G
AMD Radeon HD 8400
7.4
NVIDIA GeForce GT 520MX
AMD Radeon HD 7520G
NVIDIA GeForce GT 325M
NVIDIA GeForce GT 130M
NVIDIA GeForce Go 7900 GTX
AMD Radeon HD 8350G
10.7
9
AMD Radeon HD 8330
8.4
5.7
2.8
Intel UHD Graphics 600
Intel HD Graphics 500
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NVIDIA GeForce 9650M GS
NVIDIA GeForce 9650M GT
NVIDIA GeForce 8700M GT
NVIDIA GeForce Go 7800 GTX
NVIDIA GeForce Go 7900 GS
NVIDIA Quadro NVS 320M
NVIDIA GeForce 9600M GT
NVIDIA GeForce GT 220M
NVIDIA GeForce GT 120M
AMD Radeon HD 7450M
NVIDIA GeForce 610M
NVIDIA GeForce 705M
Intel HD Graphics 405 (Braswell)
Intel HD Graphics (Braswell)
Intel HD Graphics 400 (Braswell)
AMD Radeon HD 6470M
NVIDIA GeForce GT 520M
AMD Radeon HD 7420G
8.2
ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3670
Intel HD Graphics (Haswell)
7.2
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AMD Radeon HD 6520G
AMD Radeon HD 8310G
NVIDIA GeForce 320M
NVIDIA GeForce GT 320M
ATI Mobility Radeon HD 2600 XT
ATI Mobility Radeon X1900
ATI Mobility Radeon X1800XT
ATI Mobility Radeon X1800
NVIDIA GeForce Go 6800 Ultra
NVIDIA GeForce Go 7800
NVIDIA GeForce 9600M GS
NVIDIA GeForce 9500M GS
AMD Radeon HD 7400G
AMD Radeon HD 6480G
ATI Mobility Radeon HD 2700
NVIDIA GeForce GT 415M
NVIDIA GeForce 410M
AMD Radeon HD 7370M
AMD Radeon R2 (Mullins/Beema/Carrizo-L)
AMD Radeon HD 6370M
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AMD Radeon HD 8280
7.3
ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5470
AMD Radeon HD 6450M
AMD Radeon HD 7430M
ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3650
ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5145
ATI Mobility Radeon HD 545v
AMD Radeon HD 8240
5
AMD Radeon R6 (Mullins)
AMD Radeon HD 8250
Intel HD Graphics (Cherry Trail)
ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4570
ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5450
NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT
ATI Mobility Radeon HD 2600
Intel HD Graphics 3000
8.9
6.6
3.9
NVIDIA GeForce 310M
NVIDIA GeForce G210M
NVIDIA GeForce 405M
NVIDIA GeForce 315M
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NVIDIA GeForce Go 7600 GT
NVIDIA GeForce 9500M G
NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GS
NVIDIA GeForce Go 7700
NVIDIA GeForce Go 6800
ATI Mobility Radeon X800XT
AMD Radeon HD 6430M
AMD Radeon HD 6380G
ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5430
AMD Radeon HD 8210
3.28n2
2.7
1.8
ATI Mobility Radeon HD 540v
ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4550
Intel HD Graphics 2500
Intel HD Graphics (Ivy Bridge)
AMD Radeon HD 7350M
AMD Radeon HD 6350M
ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4530
ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4350
ATI Mobility Radeon HD 530v
NVIDIA GeForce 305M
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ATI Mobility Radeon X1700
ATI Mobility Radeon X2500
NVIDIA GeForce Go 7600
ATI Mobility Radeon X800
ATI Mobility Radeon X1600
ATI Mobility Radeon 9800
NVIDIA GeForce Go 6600
ATI Mobility Radeon X1450
ATI Mobility Radeon X700
NVIDIA GeForce G 110M
AMD Radeon HD 6330M
ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4330
NVIDIA GeForce 8400M GT
Intel HD Graphics 2000
NVIDIA GeForce G 107M
NVIDIA GeForce G 105M
NVIDIA GeForce G 103M
NVIDIA GeForce 9500M GE
NVIDIA GeForce G 102M
NVIDIA GeForce G 205M
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NVIDIA GeForce 9400M (G) / ION (LE)
Intel HD Graphics (Sandy Bridge)
Intel HD Graphics (Bay Trail)
4.4
VIA Chrome9HD
AMD Radeon HD 7340
AMD Radeon HD 6320
AMD Radeon HD 7310
AMD Radeon HD 6310
AMD Radeon HD 8180
ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3470 Hybrid X2
NVIDIA GeForce 9400M GeForceBoost
ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3470
NVIDIA GeForce 9300M G
NVIDIA ION 2
NVIDIA GeForce 9300M GS
NVIDIA GeForce 9200M GS
AMD Radeon HD 7290
AMD Radeon HD 6290
ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3450
ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3430
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ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3410
ATI Mobility Radeon HD 2400 XT
ATI Radeon HD 4270
ATI Radeon HD 4250
ATI Radeon HD 4200
Intel Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) HD Graphics
AMD Radeon HD 6250
ATI Mobility Radeon X1350
ATI Mobility Radeon X1400
NVIDIA GeForce 9100M G
NVIDIA GeForce 8400M GS
ATI Mobility Radeon HD 2400
ATI Radeon HD 3200
ATI Radeon HD 4225
ATI Radeon HD 4100
ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3400
ATI Radeon HD 3100
NVIDIA GeForce 8400M G
NVIDIA GeForce 8200M G
Intel Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) 4700MHD
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Intel Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) 4500MHD
Intel Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) 4500M
NVIDIA GeForce Go 7400
NVIDIA GeForce Go 7300
ATI Mobility Radeon X600
ATI Mobility Radeon X2300
ATI Mobility Radeon HD 2300
ATI Mobility Radeon 9700
ATI Mobility Radeon X1300
NVIDIA GeForce4 4200 Go
ATI Mobility Radeon 9600
ATI Mobility Radeon 9550
NVIDIA GeForce Go 7200
NVIDIA GeForce Go 6400
ATI Mobility Radeon X300
NVIDIA GeForce Go 6250
NVIDIA GeForce Go 6200
NVIDIA GeForce FX Go 5700
NVIDIA GeForce FX Go 5600 / 5650
ATI Radeon Xpress X1270
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ATI Radeon Xpress X1250
ATI Radeon Xpress 1250
ATI Radeon Xpress X1200
Intel Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) X3100
Intel Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) 3650
NVIDIA GeForce 7190M
NVIDIA GeForce 7150M
ATI Radeon Xpress 1150
NVIDIA GeForce Go 6150
NVIDIA GeForce Go 6100
NVIDIA GeForce 7000M
Intel Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) 3600
ATI Mobility Radeon 9200
NVIDIA GeForce FX Go 5200
ATI Mobility Radeon 9000
NVIDIA GeForce 4 488 Go
NVIDIA GeForce 4 460 Go
NVIDIA GeForce 4 440 Go
NVIDIA GeForce 4 420 Go
Intel Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) 3150
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Intel Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) 950
ATI Mobility Radeon 7500
Intel Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) 900
ATI Radeon Xpress 200M
ATI Radeon Xpress 1100
SIS Mirage 3+ 672MX
SIS Mirage 3 671MX
Intel Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) 600
Intel Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) 500
NVIDIA GeForce 3 Go
NVIDIA GeForce 2 Go (200 / 100)
ATI Mobility Radeon 9100 IGP
ATI Mobility Radeon 9000 IGP
ATI Mobility Radeon M7
ATI Mobility Radeon M6
VIA Chrome9 HC
Intel Extreme Graphics 2
ATI Mobility Radeon 7000 IGP
ATI Radeon IGP 340M
ATI Radeon IGP 320M
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VIA S3G UniChrome Pro II
VIA S3G UniChrome Pro
VIA Castle Rock
SIS Mirage 2 M760
SIS Mirage M661FX
VIA S3 Graphics ProSavage8
ATI Mobility 128 M3
Silicon Motion SM502
unknown
(-) * 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.
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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Archive of our own reviews > Company of Heroes 2 Benchmarked
Florian Glaser, 2013-07-11 (Update: 2021-05-18)