Going to the latest Total War requires a good graphics card

Napoleon: Total War - CPU benchmarks and tuning tips

Napoleon: Total War is going to be released soon and PC Games Hardware took a look at the strategy game. To check its performance we test several popular CPUs.
When Empire: Total War has been released, the related forums have been besieged by disappointed players who complained about serious performance problems. The developers reacted and tried to find a solution. With Patch 1.3.0 the missing multi-core support was finally integrated. With Napoleon: Total War everything is expected to be fine now. PC Games Hardware checks if the developers kept their promise.

Napoleon: Total War - CPU Benchmarks and Tuning Guide
Napoleon: Total War - CPU Benchmarks and Tuning Guide [Source: view picture gallery]

Napoleon: Total War - CPU Benchmarks
Napoleon: Total War - CPU Benchmarks [Source: view picture gallery]
Napoleon: Total War - Core scaling
Napoleon: Total War - Core scaling [Source: view picture gallery]
For the Empire: Total War stand-alone add-on Creative Assembly didn't redevelop the basic code, but the developers overhauled the graphics part of the engine. This is supposed to enhance the visual appearance of the detailed historic battles. But it is also a reaction to the critique that even after Patch 1.3.0 the modern multi-core processors haven't been fully utilize. Our test with the preview version reveals if the restructuring has been successful.

Napoleon: Total War – Two cores are enough
In matters of multi-core optimizations we didn’t recognize a big improvement with our Developer version of Napoleon: Total War. Currently the ideal CPU for the game has two cores and a high frequency. Even in combination with a fast Geforce GTX 285 a single-core CPU is, as our core scaling chart reveals, too slow for full details of the strategy game. Upgrading to four cores doesn’t deliver a noticeable improvement. In general the engine is working well with Intel’s Core 2 Duo series as the benchmark results of the E6600, E6320 and E8400 show. The latter one is, regardless of 400 MHz less frequency, only 2 fps slower than AMD’s quad-core, the Phenom II X4 965 BE. On the other hand the Athlon II X2 250 BE, which costs about 60 Euros only, delivers a comparatively good performance. Thus it is as good for Napoleon: Total War as the new AMD models Athlon X2 255 (3.1 GHz, about 65 Euros) or Phenom II X2 BE (3.2 GHz, about 90 Euros). Intel fans are well equipped with a Core 2 Duo with 3 GHz frequency, like the C2D E8400 (3.0 GHz, about 130 Euros) or the E8600 (3.33 GHz, about 215 Euros).

Napoleon: Total War – Performance factor graphics card
The most important component for smooth gaming without lags is still the graphics card. But apparently the version we have received has not been optimized for performance or driver support. Anti-aliasing in combination with SSAO (Screen Space Ambient Occlusion) causes problems. Furthermore the game has high requirements in matter of graphics power. During first benchmarks a Geforce GTX 285 for example reached only 25 fps at 1680 x 1050 with 4x FSAA and even at 1280 x 1024 with 4x FSAA the framerate was limited to about 30 fps only. Since we expect that Creative Assembly will fix the problems until the final version becomes available, we estimate that at 1280 x 1024 (no FSAA) a Geforce GTS 250 or Radeon HD 4870 and at 1680 x 1050 (no FSAA) a GTX 260 or HD 5770 will be enough to display the game smoothly. But if you activate 4x FSAA, you will most likely have to have at least a GTX 275 or HD 5850. Napoleon: total War also requires a lot of system memory. For Windows 7 and Vista you need 4 GiByte and for XP 3 GiByte.

Click to select graphics settings
Napoleon: Total War

Napoleon: Total War – Tuning video options
IF your graphics card is not fast enough for the add-on, deactivate the volumetric effects (fog). This also deactivates the challenging Ambient Occlusion and caused in a performance improvement of about 87 percent (from 15 to 28 fps) on our test system. If you have an older graphics card you should try and reduce the Shader model in order to receive a benefit of up to 47 percent – this is possible because most Post Effects are deactivated automatically.

Picture gallery  (enlarge to view source)

Author: Andreas Link (Feb 25, 2010)

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