Counter-Strike Global Offensive Benchmarked
CS reloaded. Over 10 years after the original, Global Offensive is a reboot of the successful multiplayer tactical shooter. Despite its age, the basic game idea is still very popular. The dusty Source Engine is both a curse and a blessing.
The Counter-Strike series spin-off will surely be discussed in great detail by its fan base. Is the visual update and the addition of a ton of features and game modes make Global Offensive the next step in evolution or is it just Valve trying to line their pockets? Certainly looks like we are talking about a rip-off as CS: GO costs 14 Euro (~$17) on Steam. This article focuses primarily on the technology and performance of different notebook graphics cards.
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Counter-Strike has conquered the hearts of so many gamers, not only because of its low hardware requirements, but also because of its team aspect and the tactical components. Thousands of players battle on the servers every day and some LAN parties are unthinkable without CS. Since the last part (CS: Source) has been out for a while, Valve saw that the time was right for a successor. Global Offensive is largely based on the same gaming principles and expands the multiplayer with a couple of new feature like the game modes ’Arms Race’ and ’Demolition’ (you automatically get a better weapon after a kill).
In order not to fall easily in the heated online battles, beginners should first complete the ’Training camp’. The weapons handling, grenade use, and bomb placement are explained here. The ‘Single Player’ mode is right for those who want to try what they've learned. Global Offensive offers playing against bots whose level of difficulty can be adjusted in several steps. Those who feel ready to face a human player after the dry runs can enter a ’real’ server through the intuitive menus.
We had numerous reasons against an online benchmark. Since the threat of virtual death hangs on every second, the choice of an appropriate sequence would be quite hard and we did not want to ruin the round for other players. Due to the typical multi-player problems (lag influences the subjective game quality), we therefore preferred an offline skirmish with bots. At ’Harmless’ level, the AI hardy fights back.
We tested one of the most played maps ’Dust II’. We begin the round as terrorists and more or less circle once around bomb sites A and B (see the screenshot and the video). The entire sequence takes about a minute and is recorded with the help of Fraps. During the run we wanted to ensure high comparability. Because of the less demanding technology, some fluctuations are inevitable.
The graphics options are typical for a PC game. In the video options one finds basic parameters such as resolution, aspect ratio, brightness and the size of the HUD (Head Up Display). The real thing is under the tab ’Advanced’. Not every title out there offers more than 10 different settings. Some options can ’only’ be turned on or off (Multicore-Rendering, FXAA, VSync & Motion Blur), while others can be adjusted at steps Very Low, Low, Medium, High and Very High. Among these are the shadow quality, the model, texture, effects and shader details as well as the ominous ’Paged Pool Memory’. The MSAA anti-aliasing reaches 8x and the anisotropic filtering about 16x which is something exemplary.
From a technical point of view, Global Offensive is unfortunately not outstanding. Despite the various improvements, the Source Engine seems rather outdated. In terms of polygon count and texture sharpness, the tactical shooter cannot compete with other FPSs like Max Payne 3, Battlefield 3 and Crysis 2. Upon closer inspection, most wallpaper objects seem vague.
In comparison to CS: Source, this version is certainly an evident progress. Especially when it comes to atmosphere, Global Offensive takes a step forward. Thanks to the rich decorative objects, the levels now seem less dull. The successful lights and shadows help the ’Look and Feel’. Typical of Valve, there is attention for consistency of the look of the game. For next year though, we wish for a modern engine.
The moderate hardware requirement is one of the strong points of CS: GO. Even with Intel's older HD Graphics 3000, multiplayer mode is possible depending on the resolution at lower or normal settings. Midrange GPUs such as the GeForce GT 630M manage higher details and 2x anti-aliasing without problems. For 1920x1080 pixels, 4x anti-aliasing and maximum details (incl. FXAA), you do not need a high-end GPU at all. These settings are possible with the GeForce GT 640M. For the latest enthusiast-level GPUs like the Radeon HD 7970M and the GeForce GTX 680M, Counter Strike does not seem to pose a challenge.
Valve seems to have optimized the technical framework perfectly. Global Offensive may not be visually exciting, but it scores points with its surprisingly low hardware requirements which come in handy mainly for weaker systems. The low price of 14 Euro is extremely fair and deserves some praise.
Most of the devices come from Schenker Notebooks (mysn.de):
- XMG P502 (Core i7-3610QM, GeForce GTX 660M, GTX 670M, GTX 675M, GTX 680M & Radeon HD 7970M, 8 GB RAM)
- XMG A502 (Core i5-3360M, GeForce GT 650M & HD Graphics 4000, 8 GB RAM)
- Xesia M501 (Core i7-2630QM, GeForce GT 630M & HD Graphics 3000, 8 GB RAM)
The drivers used were versions: 304.79 Beta (Nvidia), 8.951.6.0 (AMD) and 126.96.36.19961 (Intel).
The Guild Wars 2 benchmark is planned for the end of August.
The chart below contains all previous benchmarks and will be expanded in the future.