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Watch Dogs Benchmarked

Hardware giant. The outburst of the community was big when Ubisoft announced the official system requirements for Watch Dogs. The open-world title not only requires a potent graphics chip but also a very fast processor. We have tested several notebooks and desktops with various settings.
Florian Glaser, Stefanie Voigt (translated by Markus Doepfert), 🇩🇪

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Watch Dogs Logo
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For the original German article, see here.

Graphics

It is currently greatly debated if the graphics quality touches the first presentation videos of the publisher. For a 2014 game Watch Dogs looks good without a doubt, but it is no real graphics stunner. On the one hand the third person title excels with neat reflections and superb light and shadow effects at night and during rain, on the other hand the light in the daytime is not very convincing. Outdoors, the environment seems somewhat too bright and too little graded.

Nonetheless, Watch Dogs is able to create a coherent atmosphere, partly due to the high amount of vegetation and people. The characters appear realistic thanks to the credible animations and good character models. Another advantage of the Disrupt engine, which was specifically built for Watch Dogs, turns out to be the excellent display of water, which is definitely first-grade.

Furthermore, the game offers quite sharp textures - when using high or ultra-high graphics settings. Another fact that deserves praise is that objects only rarely pop up and "jump into the picture" when driving. In addition to that, Havok's eponymous physics software guarantees harmonious physical behavior. We were particularly impressed by the simulation of fabric (clothes etc.).

Watch Dogs
Watch Dogs
Watch Dogs
Watch Dogs
Watch Dogs
Watch Dogs

But it is not all roses. After only a few minutes into the game it becomes apparent that Ubisoft somewhat neglected the PC version. Besides the bad drivability (the control of vehicles feels vague via mouse and keyboard) there are also the many performance drops. Watch Dogs likes to crash despite brand new (beta) drivers from time to time.

Ubisoft ought to have foreseen that its online platform Uplay, which is necessary for the installation of the game, would not be able to handle the run of customers and thus will work inadequately after release (login not possible, error messages regarding the cloud data, etc.).

Watch Dogs
Watch Dogs
Watch Dogs
Watch Dogs
Watch Dogs
Watch Dogs

Start issues aside: The graphics menu is, for a PC game, decent by all means. The display tab allows changing the resolution, the screen mode, the anti-aliasing and other standard options. The graphics quality tab offers four presets (overall quality) and eight individual options ranging from A for ambient occlusion to W for water.

Since Watch Dogs is part of Nvidia's TWIMTBP program it not only offers FXAA, SMAA and MSAA but also TXAA for anti-aliasing. All settings can be changed during the game apart from the texture quality (3 GB VRAM should suffice for ultra settings).

Low settings
Low settings
Medium settings
Medium settings
High settings
High settings
Ultra settings
Ultra settings

Benchmark

We tested the performance of the Triple A title with the help of a car race. As soon as the protagonist, Aiden, has fled the stadium and escaped the police after the prolog, there is a so-called fixer contract (= side mission) close to his hideout.

As can be seen in our video we raced from the first to the sixth checkpoint and recorded the average frame rate. The entire sequence is about 40 seconds long and is exemplary for the hardware demand. Due to the high speed of the game and the mentioned performance drops, we expected a benchmark result of at least 35 fps. Otherwise there would be annoying stutters once in a while.

Low settings
Low settings
Medium settings
Medium settings
High settings
High settings
Ultra settings
Ultra settings
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Although the graphics card is the limiting factor for most systems, the processor is also of significance. At low or medium settings the performance follows the CPU (at least in high-end notebooks and/or devices based on AMD). Speaking of AMD: The graphics chips of the Nvidia competitor come off reproducibly worse at moderate settings (see R9 280X and HD 8970M). The minimum fps is also lower according to our experience.

Results

The hardware demand of Watch Dogs is quite high when adding up all benchmark scores. Entry-level GPUs, as known from inexpensive office notebooks, do not meet the requirements. Intel's popular processor chip HD Graphics 4600 struggles heavily even with 1024x768 pixels and low settings. It did not go any higher than 24 fps in the benchmark (Iris Pro 5200: ~33fps). A multimedia GPU like the GeForce GT 740M (~40 fps @1024x768, low settings) is at least necessary to play Watch Dogs fluently. For medium details and 1366x768 pixels we recommend a GeForce GT 750M or higher.

Those who want to play the game with high settings, 1920x1080 pixels and 2x MSAA anti-aliasing require a super-strong high-end model like the Radeon HD 8970M, the GeForce GTX 780M or the GeForce GTX 870M. The frame rate increases by almost 35% without anti-aliasing (+30% FXAA vs. 2x MSAA), allowing a GeForce GTX  770M or a GTX 860M to be used. There is currently no single-chip notebook able to display the game at maximum settings: 1920x1080 pixels and 4x MSAA without stuttering. Only the GeForce GTX 880M scratches 35 fps.

Watch Dogs
    1920x1080 Ultra Overall Quality, Ultra Textures AA:4x MS     1920x1080 High Overall Quality, High Textures AA:2x MS     1366x768 Medium Overall Quality, Medium Textures     1024x768 Low Overall Quality, Medium Textures
Radeon R9 280X, 3770K
Desktop-PC
34.6 (25min) fps ∼46%
46.4 (32min) fps ∼55%
60.6 (47min) fps ∼52%
73.6 (58min) fps ∼57%
GeForce GTX 880M, 4700MQ
Schenker W504
32.9 (28min) fps ∼44%
44.4 (39min) fps ∼52%
74.3 (59min) fps ∼64%
88.1 (71min) fps ∼68%
GeForce GTX 660 Ti, 3770K
Desktop-PC
31.7 (26min) fps ∼43%
43.4 (38min) fps ∼51%
76 (61min) fps ∼65%
87.3 (70min) fps ∼68%
GeForce GTX 780M, 4700MQ
Schenker W503
30.4 (25min) fps ∼41%
40.9 (35min) fps ∼48%
72.1 (57min) fps ∼62%
83 (67min) fps ∼64%
GeForce GTX 870M, 4700MQ
Schenker W504
26.8 (22min) fps ∼36%
37.4 (33min) fps ∼44%
73.8 (60min) fps ∼63%
85.7 (65min) fps ∼66%
Radeon HD 8970M, 4700MQ
Schenker W503
26.3 (21min) fps ∼35%
35 (28min) fps ∼41%
53.5 (39min) fps ∼46%
65.4 (50min) fps ∼51%
GeForce GTX 770M, 4700MQ
Schenker W503
19.8 (14min) fps ∼27%
27.7 (23min) fps ∼33%
66.1 (58min) fps ∼56%
80.7 (64min) fps ∼63%
GeForce GTX 860M, 4700MQ
Schenker W504
18.9 (14min) fps ∼25%
27 (24min) fps ∼32%
68.6 (58min) fps ∼59%
81.7 (66min) fps ∼63%
GeForce GTX 765M, 4700MQ
Schenker W503
21.1 (19min) fps ∼25%
56.9 (51min) fps ∼49%
81.3 (67min) fps ∼63%
GeForce GTX 850M, 4340M
Schenker M504
20.7 (18min) fps ∼24%
51.8 (41min) fps ∼44%
60.4 (47min) fps ∼47%
GeForce GT 750M, 4702MQ
Schenker M503
12.2 (10min) fps ∼14%
35.2 (30min) fps ∼30%
57.2 (51min) fps ∼44%
GeForce GT 740M, 4200M
HP Envy 15-j011sg
8.1 (6min) fps ∼10%
25 (21min) fps ∼21%
40.1 (33min) fps ∼31%
Radeon R7 512 Cores (Kaveri Desktop), A10-7850K, Samsung SSD 470 Series MZ-5PA256/EU
A10-7850K Asus A88-XM-PLUS
8.1 (5min) fps ∼10%
25.8 (22min) fps ∼22%
36.6 (28min) fps ∼28%
GeForce GT 720M, 4200M, WDC Scorpio Blue WD10JPVX-22JC3T0
MSI CX61-i572M
6.2 (0min) fps ∼7%
19.7 (0min) fps ∼17%
33.5 (0min) fps ∼26%
Iris Pro Graphics 5200, 4750HQ, Intel SSD 525 Series SSDMCEAC180B3
Schenker S413
6.1 (4min) fps ∼7%
21.9 (18min) fps ∼19%
33.1 (24min) fps ∼26%
Radeon HD 8650G, A10-5750M, Samsung SSD 470 Series MZ-5PA256/EU
Pumori Test Platform (A10-5750M)
15.8 (10min) fps ∼14%
22.1 (16min) fps ∼17%
HD Graphics 4600, 4700MQ
Schenker W503
3.6 (2min) fps ∼4%
14.1 (12min) fps ∼12%
24.4 (22min) fps ∼19%

Processor Performance Benchmarks

We paired an Nvidia GeForce GTX 680 desktop graphics card with four different CPUs to evaluate the impact of differently powerful processors. Not even at minimum settings does the slow A4-5300 with a Piledriver module (2 integer, 1 FP core) reach smooth frame rates.

Furthermore, we concluded from the results of the octa-core FX-8650 (4 Piledriver modules) that the additional cores are used in comparison to the Kaveri quad-core. The Intel architecture, however, suits Watch Dogs best, as can be seen from the results of the older Sandy Bridge top model.

Benchmarks of a GeForce GTX 680 with different desktop CPUs.
Benchmarks of a GeForce GTX 680 with different desktop CPUs.

Test Systems

Four of our test devices are courtesy of Schenker Technologies (mysn.de):

  • W504 (Core i7-4700MQ, 8 GB DDR3, GeForce GTX 860M, GTX 870M, GTX 880M)
  • W503 (Core i7-4700MQ, 8 GB DDR3, GeForce GTX 765M, GTX 770M, GTX 780M, Radeon HD 8970M)
  • M504 (Core i5-4340M, 8 GB DDR3, GeForce GTX 850M)
  • M503 (Core i7-4702MQ, 8 GB DDR3, GeForce GT 750M)

The 64-bit edition of Windows 7 is installed on each of these notebooks. Thanks to Micron for the 480 GB Crucial M500.

Another test device is courtesy of Nvidia:

  • HP Envy 15-j011sg (Core i5-4200M, 12 GB DDR3, GeForce GT 740M)

GPU drivers used: Nvidia 337.88, AMD 14.6 Beta, Intel 15.33.18.64.3496

Furthermore, we used benchmarks of other notebooks with possibly different drivers.

Overview

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 Watch Dogs (2014)
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AMD Radeon Pro WX 3100
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 FX 380M
AMD Radeon Pro 560X
AMD Radeon Pro WX 2100
AMD Radeon HD 6760G2
AMD Radeon Pro Vega 56
AMD Radeon Pro Vega 20
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AMD Radeon HD 6770M
AMD Radeon HD 6775G2
AMD Radeon HD 6545G2
AMD Radeon HD 6430M
AMD FirePro W5170M
AMD Radeon HD 7520G
AMD Radeon HD 7490M
AMD Radeon HD 7500G
AMD Radeon HD 7480D
AMD Radeon HD 7450M
NVIDIA GeForce FX Go 5600 / 5650
NVIDIA Quadro FX Go 1000
NVIDIA GeForce Go 6600
NVIDIA GeForce GT 320M
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 Max-Q
NVIDIA GeForce GT 240M
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 Mobile
70.4
54.4
NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GS
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NVIDIA GeForce GTX 675M
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Max-Q
NVIDIA Quadro FX Go 1400
NVIDIA Quadro FX 1500M
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AMD Radeon HD 6830M
AMD Radeon HD 6520G
AMD Radeon HD 6540G2
AMD Radeon HD 6380G
AMD Radeon HD 6370M
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AMD Radeon HD 6290
AMD Radeon HD 6250
AMD FirePro W2100
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 FX 1700M
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670MX SLI
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AMD Radeon Pro Vega 16
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
AMD Radeon HD 7690M XT
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AMD Radeon HD 6650M
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 (Desktop)
NVIDIA GeForce Go 7800 GTX SLI
AMD Radeon HD 6730M
AMD Radeon HD 6620G + HD 7450M Dual Graphics
AMD Radeon HD 6645G2
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AMD Radeon Pro W6800
NVIDIA Quadro K5000M
AMD Radeon Pro WX 3200
AMD Radeon Pro WX 4130
AMD Radeon Pro WX 4150
AMD Radeon Pro WX 7100
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AMD Radeon R2 (Stoney Ridge)
AMD Radeon R3 (Mullins/Beema)
10.9
8
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670MX
AMD Radeon HD 7430M
AMD Radeon HD 7420G
AMD Radeon HD 7370M
AMD Radeon HD 7350M
AMD Radeon HD 7400G
Intel HD Graphics 400 (Braswell)
AMD Radeon HD 7850M
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Intel HD Graphics (Bay Trail)
8.3
4.6
Intel HD Graphics 4600
24.4
14.1
3.6
Intel Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) X3100
Intel HD Graphics 4400
15.2n3
9.6n3
2.35n2
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670M
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660M
NVIDIA GeForce GT 755M SLI
NVIDIA GeForce GT 755M
NVIDIA Quadro NVS 110M
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 Ti
87.3
76
43.4
31.7
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NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M SLI
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 590
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580M SLI
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti (Desktop)
NVIDIA Quadro FX 1800M
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680MX
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 860M
61.6n4
53.2n4
26.8n4
18.9
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 850M
63.2n3
52.8n3
20.8n3
15.75n2
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M
83
72.1
40.9
30.4
NVIDIA Quadro FX 370M
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M SLI
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti
94.4
79.7
62.7
52.2
AMD Radeon HD 6790
AMD Radeon HD 6570M
AMD Radeon HD 6550M
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AMD Radeon R7 (Carrizo)
AMD Radeon HD 6620G
AMD Radeon HD 6530M
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AMD Radeon HD 6870
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
AMD Radeon 540X
AMD FirePro M3900
AMD Radeon HD 6970
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AMD Radeon HD 6970M Crossfire
AMD FirePro M6100
AMD Radeon R2 (Mullins/Beema/Carrizo-L)
AMD FirePro M5950
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NVIDIA Quadro FX 3600M
AMD Radeon HD 6755G2
AMD Radeon HD 6950M
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Mobile
Intel HD Graphics 4200
9.7
6.5
NVIDIA Quadro FX 3700M
AMD Radeon Pro WX Vega M GL
NVIDIA Quadro FX 360M
AMD Radeon HD 7290
AMD Radeon 520
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AMD Radeon HD 6515G2
AMD Radeon HD 6510G2
AMD Radeon R7 370
96.31
101.17
38.58
28.41
AMD Radeon R7 250
AMD Radeon HD 7470M
NVIDIA Quadro FX 2800M
NVIDIA Quadro FX 2700M
AMD Radeon HD 6720G2
AMD Radeon R7 (Bristol Ridge)
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AMD Radeon Pro 560
AMD Radeon R7 (Kaveri)
19
15.2
4.6
Vivante GC800
AMD Radeon Pro 555X
AMD Radeon Pro 555
AMD Radeon HD 6750M
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AMD Radeon Pro 5600M
AMD Radeon HD 6690G2
NVIDIA GeForce FX Go 5200
(-) * 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 - 642 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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Florian Glaser, 2014-06- 1 (Update: 2021-05-18)