Notebookcheck

XCOM 2 Notebook Benchmarks

Florian Glaser, Stefanie Voigt (translated by Ariana Brodsky), 02/11/2016

Just one more round, honey. While XCOM 2's gameplay has been received with great enthusiasm, XCOM 2's graphics currently leave something to be desired. Read on to find out which laptop GPUs will enable players to effectively wipe the aliens off the face of the Earth.

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XCOM 2

For the original German article, see here.

Graphics

When the writer responsible for a benchmark article is inclined to play a game for hours rather than search for a fitting test sequence, the developers must have done a lot right. Like the precursor released in 2012 (XCOM Enemy Unknown), XCOM 2 proves to be an exciting and individually tailored mix of action, strategy and tactics -- very addictive. Yes, the missions and their sequences do repeat after a while, but the fundamental gaming principle with base building, research, character customization and turn-based battles certainly doesn't get old quickly.

XCOM 2
XCOM 2
XCOM 2
XCOM 2
XCOM 2
XCOM 2

The only thing that bothered us is that most of the missions only allow the player a certain amount of time. As a result, the gamer only has a few rounds to escort a VIP or obtain a particular object. Yes, on the one hand this mechanic provides a flush of excitement, but the pressure may scare off fans of calmer tactics. Additionally, during the course of some missions the player is confronted with sudden, unexpected events (example: a new kind of enemy spawns abruptly). This damages the gamer's sense of fairness and balance -- and that at the very beginning of the single-player campaign.

Firaxis Games could put a little more work into the controls as well. While operation is fundamentally simple and intuitive, in practice it's often a bit choppy, especially when objects in the way aren't hidden. But these things don't change the fact that we had a ton of fun in our trial run. Thanks to the well-executed video sequences and smart close-ups, XCOM 2 has simply got flair. Other crudely-staged tactical games don't hold a candle to this title.

XCOM 2
XCOM 2
XCOM 2
XCOM 2
XCOM 2
XCOM 2

The primary realm in which XCOM 2 deserves some critique is graphics. Cons include the rather long load times and the poor performance. Both at the base and on the missions, tracking shots and menu changes often lead to bothersome stuttering -- no matter how strong the computer's components are. In general, XCOM 2 demands a whole lot of a system's hardware. Without a quick GPU, the title won't be much fun.

On the other hand, the developers deserve hearty congratulations for the well deliberated settings options. As in the Rise of the Tomb Raider game we recently reviewed, the graphics options are divided into two menus. In sum, XCOM 2 offers about 20 settings -- which is more than respectable for a PC game (though unfortunately the options aren't explained). We especially liked the five presets that enable the player to quickly adjust the overall graphics quality. With a few exceptions, these presets are cleverly tuned. Since all of the settings are immediately adopted, there's no need to restart the game.

XCOM 2
XCOM 2
XCOM 2
XCOM 2
XCOM 2
XCOM 2

Visually, even at the Low preset XCOM 2 is reasonably attractive; from the High preset upwards, the game looks amazing. Only the "Minimum" preset strikes us as disappointing. When everything is activated, the title impresses with its crisp textures, excellent lighting and cool effects. Additionally, many maps are bursting with little ornamental objects, which does a lot to enhance the atmosphere. We didn't experience any crashes, image errors or significant bugs during our test. Only the Schenker W504 had problems when we connected a UHD display (no 4K resolution available).

Update from February 10th 2016: During further gaming sessions we did in fact encounter graphics errors and crashes. Tip: Those who are quickly frustrated should definitely select the lowest difficulty level. Even medium proves to be extremely challenging.

XCOM 2
XCOM 2
XCOM 2
XCOM 2
XCOM 2
XCOM 2

Benchmark

Due to the fluctuating performance and small maps, it was quite difficult to find an adequate benchmark sequence. After a lot of trial and error, the "Star Tower" operation proved to be the best solution. In this mission, the player carefully examines the ADVENT enemy's "Blacksite". To prevent the majority of the map being covered with the fog of war, after the player completes all the objectives the characters are distributed across the map. As the video reveals, we traveled with the camera from the mission starting point to the evacuation zone a total of three times, logging minimum to average frame rates as we went.

Depending on the player's surroundings, XCOM 2's performance is greatly variable. Maps with a desert-look run -- who'd have guessed -- considerably smoother than missions based in a city. Notebooks and desktop PCs have even more to chew on in forest and grassland maps. Our benchmark sequence is mostly composed of the latter, rendering it almost a worst-case scenario. If a device manages more than 25-30 fps here, the rest of the game should be playable. In XCOM 2's successor, we would definitely like to see an integrated benchmark that covers zones blanketed with various forms of vegetation.

Results

Although XCOM 2 isn't a first-person shooter or third-person title, the system requirements are very high. Owners of low-end graphics cards like the GeForce GT 740M or the HD Graphics 4600 / 5600 can forget it. Mid-range chips on par with the GeForce 940M or GT 750M are the first to manage 1280x720 pixels at the minimum preset. For a resolution of 1920x1080 pixels, the system's graphics card must be an upper mid-range or high-end model. Low details require a GTX 850M; medium settings won't run smoothly with anything less than a GTX 960M.

Minimal Preset
Minimal Preset
Low Preset
Low Preset
Medium Preset
Medium Preset
High Preset
High Preset
Maximum Preset
Maximum Preset
Minimal Preset
Minimal Preset
Low Preset
Low Preset
Medium Preset
Medium Preset
High Preset
High Preset
Maximum Preset
Maximum Preset

Those who prefer to play at high settings in Full HD will need a luxury model of the same caliber as the GTX 970M. Due to the 8x anti-aliasing, the maximum preset is too much for all current notebook chips, with the possible exception of the GTX 980 (the desktop version manages 30 fps). 3840x2160 pixels is nothing more than a dream at this point. Not even the leading desktop cards (AMD R9 Fury etc.) can run the game fluently at the High preset. As usual, XCOM 2 is generally limited by the GPU; only at minimum to low settings is the CPU occasionally the limiting factor. We certainly hope Firaxis Games soon releases a patch that improves the game's performance at a fundamental level.

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XCOM 2
    3840x2160 High Preset AA:FX AF:8x     1920x1080 Maximum Preset (8xMSAA instead of FXAA) AA:8xMS AF:16x     1920x1080 High Preset AA:FX AF:8x     1920x1080 Medium Preset AA:FX AF:2x     1920x1080 Low Preset AF:Trilinear     1280x720 Minimal Preset AF:Bilinear
AMD Radeon R9 Fury, 4790K
XFX Radeon R9 Fury Pro
22 (min: 19) fps ∼37%
34.3 (min: 29) fps ∼34%
68 (min: 62) fps ∼63%
85 (min: 77) fps ∼66%
93 (min: 79) fps ∼64%
94 (min: 78) fps ∼62%
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980, 6700K
Desktop PC
18.7 (min: 17) fps ∼31%
31.3 (min: 28) fps ∼31%
65.4 (min: 58) fps ∼61%
87.3 (min: 73) fps ∼68%
103 (min: 87) fps ∼71%
124 (min: 106) fps ∼82%
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M, 4700MQ
Schenker W504
23 (min: 20) fps ∼23%
46.9 (min: 41) fps ∼43%
61.4 (min: 51) fps ∼48%
72 (min: 63) fps ∼49%
87.9 (min: 73) fps ∼58%
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M, 4700MQ
Schenker W504
15 (min: 8) fps ∼15%
32.8 (min: 23) fps ∼30%
54 (min: 44) fps ∼42%
67.7 (min: 56) fps ∼46%
92.3 (min: 80) fps ∼61%
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 950, 6700K
Desktop PC
6.5 (min: 2) fps ∼11%
13.8 (min: 11) fps ∼14%
29.5 (min: 27) fps ∼27%
47.3 (min: 42) fps ∼37%
65.1 (min: 53) fps ∼45%
113 (min: 95) fps ∼75%
AMD Radeon R7 370, 4790K
MSI Gaming R7 370 2GB
11.9 (min: 10) fps ∼12%
27.4 (min: 25) fps ∼25%
41.3 (min: 36) fps ∼32%
56 (min: 44) fps ∼38%
97 (min: 79) fps ∼64%
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 880M, 4700MQ
Schenker W504
12.5 (min: 10) fps ∼13%
27.6 (min: 25) fps ∼26%
42.6 (min: 36) fps ∼33%
57.2 (min: 49) fps ∼39%
74.7 (min: 68) fps ∼49%
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 965M, 6700HQ
MSI GE72 965M Ti
8.4 (min: 7) fps ∼8%
25.8 (min: 24) fps ∼24%
40.6 (min: 36) fps ∼32%
52.5 (min: 42) fps ∼36%
71 (min: 56) fps ∼47%
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 870M, 4700MQ
Schenker W504
9.1 (min: 6) fps ∼9%
20.9 (min: 18) fps ∼19%
34.4 (min: 29) fps ∼27%
48.4 (min: 43) fps ∼33%
73.8 (min: 60) fps ∼49%
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M, 4720HQ
Schenker XMG A505
8.7 (min: 7) fps ∼9%
19.4 (min: 17) fps ∼18%
32.2 (min: 28) fps ∼25%
44.4 (min: 35) fps ∼30%
72 (min: 47) fps ∼48%
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 950M, 6700HQ
MSI PE60 2QD
6.7 (min: 5) fps ∼7%
16 (min: 14) fps ∼15%
26.8 (min: 24) fps ∼21%
37.6 (min: 31) fps ∼26%
71 (min: 58) fps ∼47%
AMD Radeon R9 M280X, FX-7600P
Asus N551ZU-CN007H
14.5 (min: 11) fps ∼13%
21.3 (min: 16) fps ∼17%
26.7 (min: 21) fps ∼18%
34.9 (min: 27) fps ∼23%
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 860M, 4700MQ
Schenker W504
6 (min: 4) fps ∼6%
13.6 (min: 12) fps ∼13%
24.6 (min: 21) fps ∼19%
34.7 (min: 28) fps ∼24%
66.6 (min: 50) fps ∼44%
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 850M, 4340M
Schenker M504
5.9 (min: 5) fps ∼6%
13.3 (min: 12) fps ∼12%
21.4 (min: 19) fps ∼17%
28.3 (min: 25) fps ∼19%
59.1 (min: 54) fps ∼39%
NVIDIA GeForce 940M, 5700HQ
MSI GP62 2QD
3.3 fps ∼3%
7.3 fps ∼7%
11.5 (min: 10) fps ∼9%
14.8 (min: 13) fps ∼10%
31.8 (min: 28) fps ∼21%
NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M, 4702MQ
Schenker M503
6.6 (min: 5) fps ∼6%
10.4 (min: 9) fps ∼8%
15 (min: 13) fps ∼10%
31.5 (min: 24) fps ∼21%
NVIDIA GeForce 920M, 2970M
MSI CX61 2QC 2970M MS-16GD
21.5 (min: 18) fps ∼14%
NVIDIA GeForce GT 740M, 4200M
HP Envy 15-j011sg
4.5 (min: 3) fps ∼4%
6.9 (min: 5) fps ∼5%
9.7 (min: 8) fps ∼7%
20.9 (min: 16) fps ∼14%
NVIDIA GeForce GT 720M, 4200M
MSI CX61-i572M
5.5 fps ∼4%
16.4 fps ∼11%
Intel HD Graphics 4600, 4700MQ
Schenker W504
5.1 (min: 4) fps ∼4%
7.1 (min: 5) fps ∼5%
16.8 (min: 12) fps ∼11%

Test Systems

Desktop PCs

Custom Nvidia Custom AMD

Mainboard

Asus Z170-A Intel

Processor

Intel Core i7-6700K Intel Core i7-4790K

Graphics Card

Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 (4 GB), PNY GTX 950 (2 GB) AMD Radeon R9 Fury (4 GB), AMD R9 290X (4 GB), MSI R7 370 (2 GB)

Memory

2x 8 GB G.Skill Trident Z DDR4-3000 2x 4 GB DDR3-1600

Mass Storage 1

Crucial MX100 SSD (256 GB) Intel SSD 530 (240 GB)

Mass Storage 2

Crucial M500 SSD (480 GB) -

Mass Storage 3

Schenker Notebooks

Schenker W504 Schenker XMG A505 Schenker M504 Schenker M503 Schenker S413

Mainboard

Intel HM87 Intel HM87 Intel HM86 Intel HM86 Intel HM87

Processor

Intel Core i7-4700MQ Intel Core i7-4720HQ Intel Core i5-4340M Intel Core i7-4702MQ Intel Core i7-4750HQ

Graphics Card

Nvidia GeForce GTX 980M (8 GB), GTX 970M (6 GB), GTX 880M (8 GB), GTX 870M (6 GB), GTX 860M (4 GB) Nvidia GeForce GTX 960M (2 GB) Nvidia GeForce GTX 850M (2 GB) Nvidia GeForce GT 750M (2 GB) Intel Iris Pro Graphics 5200

Memory

2x 4 GB DDR3-1600 2x 4 GB DDR3-1600 2x 4 GB DDR3-1600 2x 4 GB DDR3-1600 2x 8 GB DDR3-1600

Mass Storage 1

Samsung SSD 840 EVO (250 GB) Micron M600 SSD (128 GB) Intel SSD 520 (240 GB) Intel SSD 520 (240 GB) Crucial M4 SSD (256 GB)

Mass Storage 2

Seagate Laptop Thin SSHD (500 GB) HGST Travelstar 7K1000 (1.000 GB) - - -

Operating System

Other Notebooks

HP Envy 15-j011sg Asus N551ZU-CN007H MSI CX61-i572M281BW7

Mainboard

Intel HM87 AMD K15.1 Intel HM86

Processor

Intel Core i5-4200M AMD FX-7600P Intel Core i5-4200M

Graphics Card

Nvidia GeForce GT 740M (2 GB) AMD Radeon R9 M280X (4 GB) Nvidia GeForce GT 720M (2 GB)

Memory

1x 8 GB DDR3-1600 2x 4 GB DDR3-1600 1x 8 GB DDR3-1600

Mass Storage 1

Samsung SSD 830 (256 GB) HGST Travelstar 5K1000 (1.000 GB) Western Digital Scorpio Blue (1.000 GB)

Mass Storage 2

- - -

Operating System

4K Monitor

Nvidia Driver AMD Driver Intel Driver

Asus PB287Q

ForceWare 361.75 Crimson 16.1.1 Hotfix 15.40.10.64.4300

Overview

Show Restrictions
      Model                                     XCOM 2
 XCOM 2 (2016)
low
1280x720
Minimal Preset
BilinearAF
med.
1920x1080
Medium Preset
2xAF FXAA
high
1920x1080
High Preset
8xAF FXAA
ultra
1920x1080
Maximum Preset (8xMSAA instead of FXAA)
16xAF 8xMSAA
4k
3840x2160
High Preset
8xAF FXAA
 3NVIDIA Titan X Pascal
96.6
81.8
78.1
78
42.8
 8NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 (Desktop)
128
105
91
48
30.4
 10NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 (Laptop)
95.2n3
51.3n3
30.9n3
 15NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 (Desktop)
44.2n2
26.3n2
 17NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 (Laptop)
86.4
74.9
68.7n4
40.45n4
23.2n2
 20NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti
103
85
41.2
25
 24AMD Radeon R9 Fury
94
85
68
34.3
22
 25AMD Radeon R9 Nano
35.4
21.9
 26NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980
124
87.3
65.4
31.3
18.7
 28NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 (Laptop)
136.1
95
70.9
33.4
20.1
 32NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 (Desktop)
132
89.1
65.6
30.9
17.8
 34AMD Radeon RX 480 (Desktop)
57.6
26.9
16.3
 35NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 (Laptop)
85.5
62.8
56.45n4
29.1n4
16.3
 38AMD Radeon RX 580 (Laptop)
82
66
51.1
24.5
 42NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970
88.2
75.5
59.2
27.6n2
15.9
 47AMD Radeon RX 470 (Desktop)
53.5
24.5
14.7
 59NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M
87.9n3
61.4n3
46.9n3
22.9n3
 64NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960
90
56.9
35.6
16.7
 65NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti (Notebook)
37.7
19
10.3
      Model                                     XCOM 2
lowmed.highultra4k
 70NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M
82.1n4
51.5n4
35.15n4
16.45n4
 73NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680
88.5
47.8
36.5
16.4
9.7
 83NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 (Desktop)
54.9
33.2
14.5
 84NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 (Notebook)
86.45n2
43.6n2
28.15n2
13.7n2
 88AMD Radeon R7 370
97
41.3
27.4
11.9
 90NVIDIA GeForce GTX 880M
74.7
42.6
27.6
12.5
 91NVIDIA GeForce GTX 950
113
47.3
29.5
13.8
6.5
 99AMD Radeon RX 460 (Desktop)
104
39.1
26.4
 102NVIDIA GeForce GTX 965M
80.6n4
42.5n4
26.35n4
11.95n4
 106NVIDIA GeForce GTX 870M
73.8
34.4
20.9
9.1
 108AMD Radeon HD 8970M
88.7
39.7
25.6
25
 121AMD Radeon Pro 460
88.7
31.9
21.7
9.9
 123NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M
72n3
32.1n3
19.8n3
8.7n3
5.5
 132AMD Radeon Pro 455
70
27.2
17.9
5.9
 135NVIDIA GeForce MX150
72.8
25.9
15.8
7.1
 142NVIDIA GeForce GTX 860M
66.6
24.6
13.6
6
 150NVIDIA GeForce GTX 950M
60.6n2
23.3n2
14.65n2
6.7
 151AMD Radeon Pro 450
63.7
24.2
15.5
5.6
 154NVIDIA GeForce GTX 850M
59.1
21.4
13.3
5.9
 157AMD Radeon R9 M280X
34.9
21.3
14.5
      Model                                     XCOM 2
lowmed.highultra4k
 228NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M
31.5
10.4
6.6
 231NVIDIA GeForce 940MX
31.3n3
11.4n3
7.2n3
4.1
 234AMD Radeon RX Vega 8
31.1
10.6
7.2
 235NVIDIA GeForce 940M
29.85n2
11.5
7.3
3.3
 242AMD Radeon R7 M445
22.8
7.9
5.2
4.9
 253AMD Radeon R7 512 Cores (Kaveri Desktop)
28
9.4
 256NVIDIA GeForce GT 740M
20.9
6.9
4.5
 258NVIDIA GeForce 930M
26
9.6
6.2
3.1
 259Intel Iris Graphics 550
30.4
9.9
6.8
 264NVIDIA GeForce 920MX
25.6
8.9
 265Intel Iris Graphics 540
22.8n2
7.8n2
 297*AMD Radeon R7 (Bristol Ridge)
18.4
6.9
4.9
 300AMD Radeon R7 (Kaveri)
19.2
 302*AMD Radeon R7 M460
22.5
7.8
5.2
 305AMD Radeon R7 M360
19.75n2
7.4n2
5.05n2
 307NVIDIA GeForce 920M
21.5
 311AMD Radeon R7 M440
22.8n2
7.9n2
5.2n2
4.9n2
 323Intel HD Graphics 630
19.2
7.4
 325Intel HD Graphics 530
16.3
 328AMD Radeon R5 (Bristol Ridge)
15.9
6.1
      Model                                     XCOM 2
lowmed.highultra4k
 330Intel HD Graphics 620
19.8
7.6
5.2
 331AMD Radeon R6 (Carrizo)
11.4
3.7
 362Intel HD Graphics 5600
15.8
 388AMD Radeon HD 8650G
16.5
 397AMD Radeon R5 M330
16.9n2
5.6
 398AMD Radeon R5 M430
14.9
 399AMD Radeon R5 M255
21.5
7.8
4.9
 401NVIDIA GeForce 910M
13.5
7.1
4.9
2.1
 404Intel HD Graphics 520
16.2n3
5.6n2
2.9
 405Intel Iris Graphics 6100
13.1
 406NVIDIA GeForce GT 720M
16.4
5.5
 427Intel HD Graphics 4600
14.05n2
5.1
 480Intel HD Graphics 515
11.2
4.9
 481Intel HD Graphics 4400
13.1
 482*Intel HD Graphics 610
12.7
 512Intel HD Graphics 5300
5.7
2.4
 531AMD Radeon R5 (Beema/Carrizo-L)
9.9
2.5
 535Intel HD Graphics 4200
9.8
(-) * 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 > XCOM 2 Notebook Benchmarks
Florian Glaser, 2016-02-11 (Update: 2016-02-11)