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Total War: Rome II Benchmarked

Florian Glaser, Tanja Hinum (translated by Ariana Brodsky), 09/13/2013

Fun or just frustrating? Following the current trend, Creative Assembly and SEGA released their new epic strategy game before it was quite ready. Gamers are registering complaints about performance issues, texture problems and other sorts of bugs. You can find out here how well various notebook GPUs get along with Rome II.

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Total War: Rome II Logo

For the original German article, see here.

Graphics

We tested the "original version" of Total War: Rome II and were left with mixed feelings. The new Total War narrative is one of the most appealing strategy games we've ever seen, but on closer look there certainly are a lot of bugs.

While Rome II makes a striking impression at low zoom levels, close-ups definitely reveal flaws. Experienced gamers are bound to criticize not only the weak textures and frequent clipping errors, but even the periodically low polygon count.

It should be noted, however, that such high zoom-levels aren't all that common in the strategy genre, so it's not quite fair to expect the graphics quality typical of action or shooter games.

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The developers deserve to be praised for the comprehensive settings options. Let's begin with the basic graphics menu, which offers a variety of resolutions and a whole six presets. You can control the individual settings in the advanced options. Here we have about 20 menu items that span from "A" as in "anti-aliasing" to "W" as in "water". Depending on the level and graphics card, the game uses the Shader Model 3, 4 or 5. Although Intel's HD Graphics 3000 and HD Graphics 4000 chips have a compatible feature set, we could only use the "low" and "medium" quality settings.

It's also a shame that Creative Assembly only built-in an anti-aliasing mode and didn't think the presets through as far as they should have (the highest setting only activates 2x AF, which takes hardly any computational power). Like we've seen with the Call of Duty series, the game's graphics quality degrades very quickly as you select lower settings. At low or medium details, Rome II looks quite ugly (muddy textures, missing vegetation, reduced object count, etc.).

Even on the "High Quality" setting, epic battles don't quite reach their full potential. Only at high or ultrahigh details can we speak of first-class visuals. No current notebook graphics card can handle the top level, "Extreme". According to the developers, several patches should be released in the next few weeks. The patches are supposed to help with the game's performance, but whether the developers' intentions come to fruition remains to be seen.

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In general, we can say that the frame-rates fluctuate enormously. Even high-end GPUs' frame-rates plummet in some situations, despite the fact that the average display refresh rates suggest that the game should run fluidly enough for normal gameplay (see the screenshots below the Verdict section).

We also frequently had to fight with incorrectly loaded textures. Despite the fact that we selected the correct settings and installed the current drivers, on many systems the resolution of the character models was too low. As a result, some graphics cards ranked above models that are actually stronger (for example, the GT 640M ranked above the GT 750M).

Additionally, often textures "pop up" relatively late, which makes for a somewhat unstable image. All in all, the graphics don't seem to be fully developed. As was true of Splinter Cell: Blacklist, the number of errors a gamer will encounter is (still) very high.

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Benchmark

Following Shogun II's example, Rome II also has an integrated benchmark. This benchmark is located in the advanced graphics menu and lasts about two minutes. Since the benchmark only reaches up to 66 fps (that is the maximum number of images recorded), we used the Fraps tool for our speed measurements -- here there is no limitation.

Results

Due to the fluctuating performance, it's not easy to reach a universally applicable conclusion about the game's system requirements. Even users of high-end systems have complained of jerky graphics. If you only take the benchmark into account and observe the recorded performance drops, you'll need an average of at least 40 fps to run the game fluidly. 

On the basis of this assertion, for low details and 1024x768 pixels, we recommend an entry-level chip on the level of the GeForce GT 720M or HD Graphics 4000. You'll need at least a mid-range GPU, like the GeForce GT 630M, to play the game at normal details and 1366x768 pixels. For the "High" preset, depending on the resolution, you'll require a model from the upper middle class or lower high-end sector (from the GeForce GT 640M up).

As previously mentioned our highest quality setting, comprised of the combination of 1920x1080 pixels and the "Extreme" preset, overtaxes every notebook graphics card on the market. Even mighty desktop GPUs, like the Radeon HD 7970 or the GeForce GTX 680, don't manage more than 40 fps (on average) in the benchmark. If you're willing to settle for the ultra setting, which runs about 40% more fluidly, for 1920x1080 pixels you'll need at least a GeForce GTX 680M.

A look at the Radeon HD 7660G reveals that the strategy title can also be limited by the CPU. It's hard to reach more than 40 fps with the A10-4600M. Speaking of AMD: While the Radeon HD 8970M ran suspiciously slowly at moderate settings (beneath the level of the GTX 660M), we couldn't even test the HD 7970M, because Rome II only recognized the integrated GPU. This problem must be tied to the game, the driver (we tried version 13.4 and 13.8 Beta2) or the Enduro graphics switching.

Benchmark Table: Total War: Rome II
Benchmark Table: Total War: Rome II

Verdict

Creative Assembly still has a lot of work ahead of them before anyone will speak of "flawless graphics" when they talk about Total War: Rome II. The original, that is to say, the unpatched version, leaves us asking whether the title might have been released prematurely. Without powerful hardware, the image jerks chaotically at high settings. As of right now, owners of weaker notebooks will have to make do with mediocre graphics quality.

Benchmark Graph GTX 680M (Ultra)
Benchmark Graph GTX 680M
Benchmark Graph GTX 780M (Extreme)
Benchmark Graph GTX 780M
Benchmark Graph HD 7970 (Extreme)
Benchmark Graph HD 7970

Test Systems

Our four 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)
  • XMG P502 (Core i7-3610QM, 8 GB DDR3, GeForce GTX 660M, GTX 670MX, GTX 675MX, GTX 680M, Radeon HD 7970M & HD Graphics 4000)
  • Xesia M501 (Core i7-2630QM, 8 GB DDR3, GeForce GT 630M & HD Graphics 3000)

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

GPU drivers used: Nvidia 326.80 Beta, AMD 13.8 Beta2, Intel 9.17.10.3223 and 9.18.10.3165.

From left to right: Schenker Xesia M501, M503, XMG P502 & W503
From left to right: Schenker Xesia M501, M503, XMG P502 & W503

Overview

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Show Restrictions
      Model
Total War: Rome II
 Total War: Rome II (2013)
low
1024x768
Low Preset
med.
1366x768
Medium Preset
high
1366x768
High Preset
ultra
1920x1080
Extreme Preset
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 (Laptop)
234.1
93.95n6
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q
170.4
72.8
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 (Laptop)
169.2n6
63.4n8
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 Max-Q
53.7
AMD Radeon R9 290X
217
172
139
56.3n2
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M
191.4n3
59n3
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti (Laptop)
231.45n2
186.45n2
48.9n2
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M
259.8
205.5n2
164.3n6
46.25n6
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680
249
168
125.6
38.4
AMD Radeon HD 7970
201.1
155.2
111.3
36
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 (Laptop)
189.8
152.3n2
38.3n2
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 880M
245
175.5
149.2n2
36.7n2
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 Ti
266
194.8
141.4
33.8
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M
257.2
184.4
138.8
33.9
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 965M
274.6
197.4n2
161.35n2
34.35n2
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 870M
217.5
161.2
129.5
31.6
AMD Radeon HD 8970M
25.4
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680M
219.6
160.3
121
27
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M
216.9n5
163.05n6
132.7n9
26n9
      Model
Total War: Rome II
lowmed.highultra
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770M
190.3n2
154.85n2
118.1n2
20.2n2
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 860M
113.5n2
21.2n2
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 675MX
186.8
138.2
106.7
18.5
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 850M
84.1
87.35n2
72.55n2
18n2
NVIDIA GeForce 945M
133
101
73
17
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 765M
163.2n2
121.25n2
91.4n4
15.95n4
AMD Radeon HD 7770
121.6
100.6
72
25.3
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670MX
156.8
116.4
91.3
16.6
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760M
162.6
117.9
93.9
14.4
AMD Radeon HD 8870M
96.5
78.2
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660M
118.8
86.3
67.7
16.1
AMD Radeon HD 8850M
62.6
51
16.8
AMD Radeon R9 M265X
79.1
65.4
10.4
NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M
93.1n2
69.45n2
53.3n2
9.85n2
NVIDIA GeForce 940MX
82.7n3
64.8n3
56n3
14.7n2
NVIDIA GeForce 940M
57n2
47.65n2
40.6n2
11
NVIDIA GeForce 930MX
60.1
51.3
11.5
AMD Radeon R7 M370
81.95n2
63n2
53.8n2
8.45n2
NVIDIA GeForce 840M
59.3n3
46.3n3
39.7n3
10.2n3
NVIDIA GeForce GT 745M
66.3
53.4
7.9
      Model
Total War: Rome II
lowmed.highultra
AMD Radeon R7 512 Cores (Kaveri Desktop)
70
54.5
48.1
13
Intel Iris Pro Graphics 5200
87
64
44
13.1
NVIDIA GeForce GT 740M
67
49
39
7
NVIDIA GeForce 830M
55
42.3
35
8.1
NVIDIA GeForce GT 735M
60.1
41.5
33.6
10.1
NVIDIA GeForce 825M
61.9
NVIDIA GeForce GT 730M
55.1n2
42.8n2
34.4n2
10.2n2
AMD Radeon HD 8750M
62.3n3
50n3
31.7n2
7.45n2
AMD Radeon R7 M270
63.4
47.2
38.3
7.3
AMD Radeon R7 M265
64.7
51.1
42.4
7.5
NVIDIA GeForce GT 640M
71
48
40.2
11.5
AMD Radeon R7 (Kaveri)
36.5
29.1
25.7
NVIDIA GeForce 920M
47.6
36.9
31.2
AMD Radeon R7 M260
55.9n2
43.2n2
36.25n2
7.2n2
AMD Radeon R7 M340
62.65n2
47.8n2
41.6n2
7.45n2
Intel HD Graphics 630
58
41.1
32.2
4.5
Intel HD Graphics 620
56.2n16
39.9n16
30.55n16
4.8n15
AMD Radeon HD 8670D
65
48.7
39
7.3
AMD Radeon R6 (Kaveri)
35.5
26.8
22.7
6.3
AMD Radeon HD 8570D
55
43
32.8
6.4
      Model
Total War: Rome II
lowmed.highultra
AMD Radeon HD 8670M
40.6
30.5
26.2
AMD Radeon HD 7660D
61
47
37
6.7
AMD Radeon HD 8650G
41.25n2
33.8n2
23.1n2
8.7
NVIDIA GeForce GT 630M
52.65n2
38.85n2
30.25n2
6.35n2
AMD Radeon R5 M330
41
31
26.6
5
AMD Radeon R5 M255
59.5n2
47.3n2
39.15n2
6.55n2
NVIDIA GeForce 820M
50.7
38.6
30.5
Intel HD Graphics 520
43.55n16
32.05n16
27.2n15
4.7n12
NVIDIA GeForce GT 720M
47.7
32.4
24.7
AMD Radeon R5 M240
40.5
31.9
28.2
AMD Radeon R5 M230
42.9
32.2
27.1
Intel HD Graphics 6000
48
36
28
Intel Iris Graphics 5100
47.75n2
35.55n2
25.95n2
8.75n2
Intel HD Graphics 4600
35.65n4
25.35n4
18.8n3
7.05n2
Intel HD Graphics 5500
35.9n5
26.35n6
20.9n6
7n4
AMD Radeon R5 (Kaveri)
27
20.3
17.1
AMD Radeon HD 7660G
40
31
22.5
11.3
Intel HD Graphics 5000
39.8
29.4
21.6
6.6
AMD Radeon HD 8550G
47.7
34.8
27.5
7
AMD Radeon HD 7610M
43
35
27
7
      Model
Total War: Rome II
lowmed.highultra
AMD Radeon HD 8470D
36.6
29
20.8
4.1
Intel HD Graphics 4400
31.8n15
26n15
17.5n15
5.8n6
Intel HD Graphics 5300
24.9
17.4
13
3.6
AMD Radeon HD 7480D
27.9
22
16.7
2.8
Intel HD Graphics 4000
27.75n4
20.5n4
AMD Radeon R5 (Beema/Carrizo-L)
22.3
18.2
15.5
AMD Radeon R4 (Beema)
24.7n2
19.1n2
15.65n2
AMD Radeon R3 (Mullins/Beema)
26.5
19.2
15.3
Intel HD Graphics 4200
27.7
18.4
13.3
4.7
AMD Radeon HD 8450G
29.4
21.6
17.6
AMD Radeon HD 8400
23.7
17.8
AMD Radeon HD 8350G
32.5
24.8
19.7
AMD Radeon HD 8330
19.8
15.2
AMD Radeon HD 7420G
23.3
16.6
Intel HD Graphics (Haswell)
22.4
16.9
AMD Radeon HD 8280
19.2
14.3
Intel HD Graphics 3000
18.8n2
14.1n2
AMD Radeon HD 8210
9.7n2
7.2
Intel HD Graphics (Bay Trail)
7.7
(-) * 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
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.
123Uncertain – 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 > Total War: Rome II Benchmarked
Florian Glaser, 2013-09-13 (Update: 2013-09-13)