League Of Legends Performance, Benchmarked

Following up our Dota 2 performance analysis, we benchmark the most-played PC game in the world, League Of Legends, and find out just how much graphics and CPU performance it requires for high-resolution, high-detail play, even across three screens.

The Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) sub-genre of real-time strategy games was virtually created by a Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos mod called Defence Of The Ancients (DotA). We recently ran a performance analysis on Valve's recent entry into the free-to-play MOBA genre: Dota 2 Performance, Benchmarked. You might want to give that article read if you aren't familiar with this style of game. In any case, no MOBA discussion is complete without mentioning League of Legends.

In 2010, my teenage son started talking about a PC game that spread like wildfire through his school, and he spent increasingly large portions of his evening playing it. He began to invite friends over for LAN parties at our house. And while my son's peer group knows PC gaming well, I had never seen them treat it like a team sport before that point. What's more, this title wasn't advertised on television or major media; it was a game that stealthily ate its way into a huge portion of the mainstream through word of mouth. And the free-to-play model certainly helped it gain popularity, especially among teenagers. My son began to request prepaid credit cards as gifts for his birthday so he could buy in-game items. I doubt he's every spent so much on any entertainment experience, despite the misnamed revenue model. That title is none other than League of Legends, abbreviated LoL.

This isn't an isolated tale. Riot Games, LoL's developer, claims more than 12 million players log on every day, with peak concurrent global numbers reaching five million. The game boasts over 70 million registered players, 32 million of which are active every month. By hours, it's the most played video game in the world. Those are staggering figures that World of Warcraft could only hope to catch. At the same time, LoL managed to stay under the radar of mainstream media, for the most part. The first time I mentioned LoL's impact on the gaming world to a colleague, he clearly thought I was off my rocker. How could a game be that popular and maintain a low profile?

LoL had a relatively unchallenged run until the recent release of Dota 2. But after playing both, I can say that LoL is more honed than Valve's upstart entry. As a very inexperienced MOBA player, here are the three main differences that struck me when I tried them, one after the other:

1) You have access to a limited rotation of heroes in LoL. The game lets you save in-game rewards to purchase a hero for permanent access, or you can purchase it instantly with real-world currency. On the other hand, Dota 2 gives all players free access to all heroes.

2) LoL does not allow players to destroy their own assets. Dota 2 does let you wreck your own towers and structures to deny enemies gold rewards.

3) When a player is killed in LoL, they lose only experience. In Dota 2, the killed player loses gold and experience.

These three differences have a significant impact on how each game is played. It's generally accepted that LoL is more accessible to beginners. Having said that, get a lot of practice in bot matches or with experienced friends before joining a pick-up group; the MOBA community is not known for its forgiving attitude. If you screw up, you're sure to receive a volley of unflattering leet-speak. In a MOBA, a mistake means boosting the other team, and that's a sure way to lose.

Successful LoL play involves a lot of practice and learning. Fortunately, it's a lot easier for us to dig into the game's graphics engine and your hardware's performance.

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  • Martell1977
    No surprises here, LoL is a very resource light game. I can run it on all medium settings on my old Pentium 4 3.2ghz with a AGP Radeon 3850 @ 1440x900 resolution with more than playable frame rates. The only issue is initial stutter at at the very start of a match that and long loading times. (however, I only use that machine when I have 3 or more players at my house)

    LoL may not be the prettiest game out there, but it is a lot of fun.
    10
  • Other Comments
  • Zero_
    Looks like everyone is jobless these days...

    Also, no love for Heroes of Newerth?
    2
  • Martell1977
    No surprises here, LoL is a very resource light game. I can run it on all medium settings on my old Pentium 4 3.2ghz with a AGP Radeon 3850 @ 1440x900 resolution with more than playable frame rates. The only issue is initial stutter at at the very start of a match that and long loading times. (however, I only use that machine when I have 3 or more players at my house)

    LoL may not be the prettiest game out there, but it is a lot of fun.
    10
  • amuffin
    Ezreal 2 good.
    -1
  • Novuake
    Interesting side note : When I was trying this on my HD4000 instead of my HD7950, when the drops under 50FPS become a HUGE hindrance in teamfights, to the point of extreme frustration.

    This is one of those games when the smallest stutter can grind your bones to dust.

    So you REALLY want a near-constant 60FPS for this one.

    Anypony disagree???
    1
  • JJ1217
    Yeah.. no one cares. Everyone knows you can basically run it on any rig.
    -5
  • griptwister
    I ran it on Ultra settings at 1080P with a Phenom II x4 840 and a GTS 450 512mb with a stable 60FPS. lol, it's not that hard to run at all.
    0
  • aggroboy
    When working in out-of-town projects, the few games my ultralight can play are indies, emulators and LoL.
    2
  • rdc85
    "...though the GeForce 210 does exceed 15 ms in our subsequent frame latency variance chart..."

    U got the chart wrong? is the 210 and 6450 swiched ?

    [EDITOR: Yes, we got it mixed up. Thanks for the note, fixed! - Don]
    3
  • anxiousinfusion
    JJ1217Yeah.. no one cares. Everyone knows you can basically run it on any rig.


    It would have been more interesting to see it tested on the oldest possible computers.
    2
  • jdwii
    Why wait this long to review this game? At least half the people at my college play this game,
    0
  • Steelwing
    They should have also run benchmarks on the new Howling Abyss map. It seems to be much more detailed, and some people have reported FPS problems with it.
    2
  • Memnarchon
    Thanks. As I see we can go as low as possible in order to create a pc that is able to play LOL.
    2
  • richboyliang
    i don't have any of the graphics cards used...my intel hd 3000 gets about 45 fps except when karthus ults (7 fps)
    2
  • tomate2
    LoL has a lot of players and im sure many of them would benefit from this article :)
    2
  • SuperVeloce
    well thanks, my brother cannot say "i need a new computer for Lol" anymore. xD
    4
  • kettu
    Page 4 title says 'low details' but the graph says 'highest detail'.

    I suppose this time CPU latency numbers don't matter that much since it's such a light load. But I still want to take this opportunity to ask for them in the future articles when there is a heavier load and differences between FPS scores.

    By the way, interesting how the iGPUs perform against faster Radeon cards in latency measurements. Would you add the desktop chips for the next review alongside the mobile?
    1
  • Memnarchon
    Just one question. Since the GT 630 seems to be an excellent choice with such low frame rates at high settings @ 1080p, what kind of memory had your sample? Was DDR3 or GDDR5? I just foud the answer that is GDDR5, which is 40% more expensive here (DDR3 = 50 euro, GDDR5 = 70 euro). :/
    0
  • Grandmastersexsay
    This is the most popular game in the world right now? I don't get it.

    Shame on all of you for supporting the pay to win model. You are going to ruin gaming, and your bank accounts.
    -4
  • chugot9218
    For the record, credit usually goes to DOTA for being the first MOBA, but it was more or less based on Aeon of Strife which was a custom map for the first Starcraft.
    0
  • lewo
    can you also make a benchmark for HON (Heroes of Newerth) ?
    1