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Guild Wars 2 Benchmarked

A breath of fresh air. ArenaNet believes it can dethrone World of Warcraft with new - and sometimes unconventional - changes to the MMO genre. Can a company made of ex-Blizzard employees strike gold with a subscription-free MMO? We test the game with a range of notebooks and GPUs to determine what system a player will need to experience ArenaNet's unique title.
Florian Glaser, Tanja Hinum,
Guild Wars 2 (Artwork: ArenaNet / NCsoft)

No healers, no tanks, no DPS, no subscription fees. What sounds like a recipe for a massive failure is actually a recipe for massive success when in the hands of developers at ArenaNet. The original Guild Wars Prophecies in 2005 laid the foundation for a sequel with major features not found in any MMO currently in the market.

The biggest appeal of the franchise may be attributed to its low system requirements, casual learning curve and, of course, the lack of monthly payments. The developers unique take of charging only for optional expansions and in-game transactions mean that players can experience the entire world of Tyria without dropping a dime more than the retail price for the box.

Description

As usual for the MMO genre, players must first create and customize an avatar before plunging in on the fast-paced battles. Five races are available with four different starting locations and eight unique classes. Although some of the classes can sound somewhat generic (i.e., Warrior, Ranger, Thief, Elementalist), the Mesmer and Engineer standout with one-of-a-kind tactics and abilities that are uncommon in the MMO world.

The character editor contains a sufficient amount of options to create an individual avatar. In addition to body and head size, you can change the hair, nose and mouth. Even the color of the clothing can be modified and additional colors can be discovered and created in-game.

You can choose among five races.
You can choose among five races.
Six of the eight professions are fairly conventional.
Six of the eight professions are fairly conventional.
The editor bids numerous options..
The editor bids numerous options.

Guild Wars 2 doesn't waste time with lengthy introductions or CGI. Immediately after character creation, our Human Guardian was put directly in the middle of a contested village with the task to defend against encroaching invaders. After a few rounds, a massive boss fight ensues, but the creature was easily destroyed in spectacular fashion with the help of other nearby players with the same starting quest. The staging and environments are downright gorgeous in Guild Wars 2 due in large part to the art style and attention to detail. On the flip side, some of the conversations to advance the storyline can feel awkward at times. 

Unfortunately, Guild Wars 2 is not a genre revolution despite the brand new dynamic events system. Although you no longer have to address a few NPCs directly (optional quests simply pop up while exploring the world), the MMO still focuses on the generic "collect this, kill that" mentality that is prevalent in the genre. The wonderfully crafted world and environments, however, make the game incredibly fun to play regardless of the current quest at hand.

The game starts with a illustrated intro.
The game starts with a illustrated intro.
There are good-looking close-ups during important dialogs.
There are good-looking close-ups during important dialogs.
You don't have to wait long for the first boss battle.
You don't have to wait long for the first boss battle.

As previously mentioned, gameplay has been enhanced with the introduction of "World Events" - a fancy term for quests that occur spontaneously and periodically where any player in range can jump in and help out. Most of these events involve protecting a town from enemy waves, escorting an NPC across dangerous territory, destroying an enemy champion or a variation of the three. Every event is certainly lucrative because they offer large amounts of gold and experience upon completion, but they can devolve into a mindless frenzy if the player count is too large.

Generally, the game hits the mark with its flashy but dynamic combat system. The battles quickly become second nature as the controls are responsive and intuitive. The soundtrack, from composer Jeremy Soule of Elder Scrolls fame, also dynamically adapts to each area and situation. The environmental background noises and the high detail density (many pedestrians in the cities) also contribute to the atmosphere.

ArenaNet has managed to create an atmospheric world that will likely be entertaining for several weeks, months if not years due to its sheer vastness. We could only explore a small fraction of the landscapes in our short gaming period.

Some opponents are gigantic.
Some opponents are gigantic.
Battles are full of effects.
Battles are full of effects.
You partly meet over 30 players in world events.
You often meet over 30 players in world events.

Benchmark

Benchmark route
Benchmark route

We record an approximate 30 second sequence between the teleportation stones "Shaemoor Waypoint" and "Fields Waypoint" located near the retreat "Divinity's Reach" using FRAPS. Screenshots and video of our benchmark scene are provided below.

From experience, the sequence can be quite demanding, so average frame rates during explorations and small skirmishes should be a bit higher. As long as the player can maintain 30 FPS or higher, Guild Wars 2 is playable at its fullest.

Settings

MMOs generally cannot compete with dedicated single-player games in the graphics department, so titles like Witcher 2 can look more detailed with more technical effects. Still, for an MMO, the ArenaNet title looks above average and very stylish without requiring powerful hardware. Texture and objects are well-detailed, but expect some muddy and flat surfaces as are typical in an MMO world. The game will run rather easily on weaker systems and settings can be customized without needing to relaunch.

Low: 1024 x 768, Best Performance preset
Low
High: 1366 x 768, Best Appearance preset
High
Ultra: 1920 x 1080, all maximum
Ultra

We use the preset "Best Performance" (1024x768) for benchmarking. It represents the minimum settings and looks rather unsightly (blurry surfaces, faint shadows, etc.) as can be seen in the pictures. Most settings are on high in the preset "Best Appearance" setting (1366x768). The fairly resource-efficient anti-aliasing alternative "FXAA" gives the game a cleaner look.

Low: 1024 x 768, Best Performance preset
Low
High: 1366 x 768, Best Appearance preset
High
Ultra: 1920 x 1080, all maximum
Ultra

Our Ultra setting, which merges 1920x1080 pixels and maximum details (including supersampling), will be enough to test even the more expensive gaming notebooks. However, the engine provides a great overall presentation for the most part regardless of setting. In fact, playing on the lowest settings actually looks  a lot like the original Guild Wars.

Low: 1024 x 768, Best Performance preset
Low
High: 1366 x 768, Best Appearance preset
High
Ultra: 1920 x 1080, all maximum
Ultra

Results

We suggest playing at minimum details if integrated GPUs are the only choice. Intel's widely distributed HD Graphics 3000 managed an acceptable 38 FPS in our benchmark sequence. For normal settings or higher at appreciable frame rates, the notebook will require a mid-range GPU such as the GeForce GT 630M.

Going higher, a GeForce GT 650M performs adequately on high details and 1366x768 pixel resolution. For 1600x900, a high-end model on the level of a GeForce GTX 670M is preferred. Maximum details and 1920x1080 pixels are possible with current premium GPUs, such as the Radeon HD 7970M or GeForce GTX 680M. On these high settings, the title is a step above most MMOs in terms of visuals and detail.

Guild Wars 2 is one of the few games where the processor can have a fairly large impact on performance. As can be seen in our chart, stronger graphics cards can be found below their weaker counterparts depending on the CPU. For example, while a combination of an HD Graphics 4000 and Core i5-3360M (2.8 - 3.5 GHz) achieves 44 fps in minimum settings, a Radeon HD 7660G and A10-4600M (2.3 - 3.2 GHz) only manages 28 fps. The CPU sometimes is the limiting factor in high details. The CPU can be a limiting factor in higher settings, so be sure to pair the discrete GPU with a relatively strong dual- or quad-core CPU for best results.

Benchmark chart Guild Wars 2

Verdict

In a world inundated with WoW clones and cookie cutter gameplay, Guild Wars 2 has proven to be a fresh breath of air in the stale MMO genre. The standard "collect and kill" quests still exist and are at large, so the game is perhaps not the complete revolution that the developers have made it out to be. Nonetheless, the unique changes have been implemented well enough to attract both casuals and hardcore players, but only time will tell if the title can maintain an active player community for the next few years. For now, we can safely say that Guild Wars 2 is one of the easiest MMOs to jump on board and is absolutely worth a try. It is, after all, subscription-free.

The developer exhibits an eye for detail.
The developer exhibits an eye for detail.
Most showplaces are really atmospheric.
Most showplaces are really atmospheric.
You will discover many interesting places on your journey.
You will discover many interesting places on your journey.

Test systems

Many thanks to Schenker Notebooks who kindly provided us with the following laptops: (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 three laptops were powered by the driver versions: 304.79 beta (Nvidia), 8.951.6.0 (AMD) and 8.15.10.2761 (Intel).

We are planning to review Borderlands 2, F1 2012 and Fifa 13 in September.

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

Overview

Show Restrictions
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 Guild Wars 2 (2012)
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AMD Radeon Pro WX 4150
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 P4200
AMD Radeon Pro Vega 20
AMD Radeon Pro WX 4130
AMD Radeon HD 6760G2
AMD Radeon Pro WX 3100
AMD Radeon Pro WX 2100
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
18.5
10.2
AMD Radeon HD 7490M
AMD Radeon HD 7500G
AMD Radeon HD 7480D
AMD Radeon HD 7450M
NVIDIA GeForce GT 630M
55n2
20.3n2
7.5n2
NVIDIA Quadro P520
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Max-Q
NVIDIA GeForce GTS 160M
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 480
NVIDIA GeForce GTS 150M
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 480M
NVIDIA GeForce 9800M GTS SLI
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M
127.4n2
69n7
59.1n8
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 768MB
NVIDIA Quadro P5200
145.1
83.5
85.4
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NVIDIA Quadro NVS 140M
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AMD Radeon HD 6830M
AMD Radeon HD 6520G
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 FirePro W7170M
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 NVS 160M
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti
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AMD Radeon Pro Vega 56
AMD Radeon HD 6630M
AMD Radeon HD 6640G2
AMD Radeon HD 7310
AMD Radeon HD 6620G + HD 7670M Dual Graphics
AMD Radeon HD 7690M
AMD Radeon HD 7340
9
4
AMD Radeon HD 7690M XT
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AMD Radeon HD 6650M
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 480M SLI
NVIDIA Maxwell GPU Surface Book
AMD Radeon HD 6730M
AMD Radeon HD 6620G + HD 7450M Dual Graphics
AMD Radeon HD 6645G2
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AMD Radeon Pro WX 3200
NVIDIA Quadro RTX 6000 (Laptop)
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AMD Radeon Pro WX 7100
AMD Radeon Pro WX Vega M GL
AMD Radeon R2 (Mullins/Beema/Carrizo-L)
AMD Radeon R2 (Stoney Ridge)
AMD Radeon R4 (Kaveri)
AMD Radeon R4 (Stoney Ridge)
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 SLI (Laptop)
AMD Radeon HD 7430M
AMD Radeon HD 7420G
AMD Radeon HD 7370M
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AMD Radeon HD 7350M
AMD Radeon HD 7400G
Intel Iris Graphics 6100
AMD Radeon HD 7850M
Intel HD Graphics 5600
Intel Iris Plus Graphics G4 (Ice Lake 48 EU)
Intel HD Graphics 5500
42.6
14.3
6.1
Intel Iris Plus Graphics 655
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 (Laptop)
56.9
67.05n2
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980
133.7
78.4
66.7n2
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti (Desktop)
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 Super (Desktop)
PowerVR GX6250
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NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M SLI
160.7
76n2
70.35n2
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 (Desktop)
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M
161.2
59.95n8
49.2n8
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460M SLI
NVIDIA Quadro NVS 300M
NVIDIA GeForce Go 6400
NVIDIA GeForce Go 7900 GS
NVIDIA GeForce Go 7800 GTX SLI
NVIDIA GeForce Go 7800
NVIDIA Quadro P4000
NVIDIA GeForce Go 7800 GTX
NVIDIA GeForce Go 7700
AMD Radeon HD 6790
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AMD Radeon HD 6570M
AMD Radeon HD 6550M
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AMD Radeon R7 370
AMD Radeon HD 6620G
AMD Radeon HD 6530M
AMD Radeon HD 6870
77
49
42
AMD Radeon HD 6550D
AMD Radeon HD 6310
AMD FirePro W4190M
AMD FirePro W4100
AMD Radeon HD 6490M
AMD Radeon HD 6480G + HD 7450M Dual Graphics
AMD Radeon HD 6480G
AMD Radeon 630
AMD Radeon 620
AMD Radeon 625
AMD FirePro W4170M
AMD FirePro M6000
AMD FirePro M4100
AMD FirePro M8900
AMD FirePro M4000
AMD FirePro M5100
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AMD Radeon 540X
AMD FirePro M3900
AMD Radeon HD 6970
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AMD Radeon HD 6970M Crossfire
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AMD FirePro M6100
AMD Radeon R4 (Beema)
AMD FirePro M5950
NVIDIA Quadro P3000
AMD Radeon HD 6755G2
AMD Radeon HD 6950M
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460M
Intel Iris Plus Graphics 650
NVIDIA Quadro P3200
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AMD Radeon R3 (Mullins/Beema)
NVIDIA Quadro P3000 Max-Q
AMD Radeon HD 7290
AMD Radeon 520
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AMD Radeon HD 6515G2
AMD Radeon HD 6510G2
AMD Radeon R7 M260
AMD Radeon R7 512 Cores (Kaveri Desktop)
AMD Radeon HD 7470M
NVIDIA Quadro P1000
NVIDIA Quadro NVS 5100M
AMD Radeon HD 6720G2
AMD Radeon R7 250
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AMD Radeon Pro 560X
AMD Radeon R7 384 Cores (Kaveri Desktop)
AMD Radeon Pro 560
AMD Radeon Pro 555X
AMD Radeon HD 6750M
AMD Radeon Pro Vega 16
AMD Radeon HD 6690G2
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NVIDIA GeForce GT 625M
(-) * 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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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Archive of our own reviews > Guild Wars 2 Benchmarked
Florian Glaser, 2012-09- 8 (Update: 2013-06- 6)
Florian Glaser
Editor of the original article: Florian Glaser - Managing Editor Gaming
Growing up with MS-DOS and Windows 3.1 in the early 90s, I discovered my interest in computers in my childhood. Especially computer games radiated a great fascination for me even then. From Monkey Island to Lands of Lore to Doom, everything was gambled that you could get your hands on. I have been working for Notebookcheck since 2009 with focus on high-performance gaming notebooks.