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'Need For Speed' PC Performance Review

Test Results: Entry-Level And Conclusion

Entry-Level Gaming

Even though Need for Speed destroys every graphics card on the market at Ultra HD, it can also be playable on very modest hardware. That is, so long as your resolution isn't set to anything higher than 1280x720 at the game's lowest detail settings. The resulting quality is just about what you'd expect out of a console, which is to say it's livable. But that's not why we play on PCs, either.

AMD's marketing claims about the A10-7890K being suitable for online gaming turn out to be true. It generates frame rates that are playable, if only just so. The Radeon R7 250 2GB DDR3 can't really pull ahead due to the game engine's rather low requirements at minimum graphics quality settings.

Intel's Iris Pro in the Core i7-5775C also does well. Unfortunately, it's definitely held back by drivers (what we saw on-screen was not free of visible errors).

The bottom line is that Need for Speed can be played on lower-end CPUs and graphics cards. It just won't look great.

Conclusion

The always-online nature of the game isn't as annoying as we feared, but it's still annoying. Even after activating the well-hidden Play Alone option, Need for Speed just doesn't feel like a single-player game. It sure is nice to be rid of the annoying players who make it their mission to get in the way of your latest top score attempt, though.

Need for Speed’s graphics don't leave much to be desired, and they scale from the very lowest to the very highest reaches of today's (and yesterday's) graphics hardware. This picks up right where Star Wars: Battlefront left off.

Unfortunately, the game still falls short of Need for Speed: Underground 2, largely due to the incomplete handling settings that could have (and should have) been, er, handled better. It's not like everyone's a tuning expert, but the way the cars drive clearly defies physics. When a 10-year-old game is more realistic, that's not something to be proud of.

It's hard to come up with an all-encompassing conclusion. There are some great and some terrible things about Need for Speed. You'll need to make up your own mind about this one, since enjoying it depends on how much importance you assign to the various aspects of gaming. The PC version shouldn't really be compared to the console builds, since their graphics look incredibly different. At least that makes up for the wait to some degree.

In the end, if we have to summarize our impressions of Need for Speed in one line, we'd mention something about a dead horse and a stick.

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Igor Wallossek is a Senior Contributing Editor for Tom's Hardware Germany, covering CPUs and Graphics. Connect with Igor on Facebook.

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  • blppt
    I'm not sure the lack of memory size matters as much as the memory bandwidth and other considerations, as my Titan Blacks (6GB onboard) still get beaten pretty badly by 4GB boards at 4K. If the game was saturating the VRAM and having to go over the PCI-E bus to get some system memory, you can bet the minimum framerates would be at the very least lower than the Titan Blacks for some of the 4GB cards, like the 980 or the Furys.
    Reply
  • Yuka
    This line: "When a 10-year-old game is more realistic, that's not something to be proud of".

    There are only 2 games in the entirety of the NFS franchise that wanted to be "realistic" or "simulation", and that is Shift. Even they were arcade as hell, no matter how you sliced it.

    Anyone playing a NFS game does not look for "realism" in it. They look for fun and fast cars; some fun cop chases and great tuning.

    Sorry about the rant, but I think the game does not deserve that line, because it has never painted itself as a Gran Turismo wannabe. You have great games that play to realism and they do it pretty darn well. NFS is just not one of them.

    In any case, nice tech review. I would have liked some screenshots on how it looks in the different settings though.

    Cheers!
    Reply
  • ohim
    I find it so funny how AMD cards age much better than Nvidia cards.

    Take the 780Ti for example, it was totally superior even to 290X at launch .. now it just struggles to compeat with 380x that is practically a refreshed 280x ...
    Reply
  • jimmysmitty
    17846375 said:
    I find it so funny how AMD cards age much better than Nvidia cards.

    Take the 780Ti for example, it was totally superior even to 290X at launch .. now it just struggles to compeat with 380x that is practically a refreshed 280x ...

    The 290x at launch is a bad example of a GPU to look at for comparison. At launch the 290 series had heat issues and throttled all the time, they couldn't even run at maximum speed all the time which gave nVidia an advantage.

    The 900 series is more the 200/300 series competition, even the 970 at launch was close to the 780Ti and with time and driver improvements the 970 is still with or better than the 780Ti.

    And the 380X is a bit more than a refresh of the 280X/7970. It has a 256bit buss vs the 384bit memory buss, faster VRAM, newer iteration of GCN and power enhancements.
    Reply
  • 10tacle
    17846375 said:
    I find it so funny how AMD cards age much better than Nvidia cards.
    Take the 780Ti for example, it was totally superior even to 290X at launch .. now it just struggles to compeat with 380x that is practically a refreshed 280x ...

    Not nearly as funny as the suckers who spent $650 on an R9 Fury X thinking they had a 980Ti beater.

    Reply
  • FormatC
    17846361 said:
    This line: "When a 10-year-old game is more realistic, that's not something to be proud of".
    There are only 2 games in the entirety of the NFS franchise that wanted to be "realistic" or "simulation", and that is Shift. Even they were arcade as hell, no matter how you sliced it.

    Bad translation. The tuning options in NFS:UG2 were better (more realistic) but this doesn't mean that NFS is a realistic racing game. It's simple Arcade but the influence of different options was in UG2 simply better balanced.

    I wrote a few trainers and savegame tools for NFS:UG2 and I also extracted a lot of car models to understand the system of this different values. And I've played with the car settings in the files and had finally a lot of fun. :)

    This was 6 years ago :D
    http://gamebanana.com/tools/5380

    Reply
  • ohim
    17846375 said:
    I find it so funny how AMD cards age much better than Nvidia cards.
    Take the 780Ti for example, it was totally superior even to 290X at launch .. now it just struggles to compeat with 380x that is practically a refreshed 280x ...

    Not nearly as funny as the suckers who spent $650 on an R9 Fury X thinking they had a 980Ti beater.
    The cards are just fine, the games running Gameworks are the main problem...and i`m willing to bet that the 980ti will end up like the 780Ti in time ... there`s a thing called planned obsolescence that Nvidia seem to have got the taste of it lately.
    Reply
  • blppt
    "The 290x at launch is a bad example of a GPU to look at for comparison. At launch the 290 series had heat issues and throttled all the time, they couldn't even run at maximum speed all the time which gave nVidia an advantage."

    Agreed. I was one of those dumb early adopters---I got a Sapphire 290x shortly after they were available at Newegg, and holy hell--that card got loud if you even looked at it odd.

    Eventually I couldnt take it anymore and I bought 2 8GB Sapphire 290x Toxics later on to replace it.
    Reply
  • blppt
    The cards are just fine, the games running Gameworks are the main problem...and i`m willing to bet that the 980ti will end up like the 780Ti in time ... there`s a thing called planned obsolescence that Nvidia seem to have got the taste of it lately.

    Its pretty much always seemed that way. AMD usually seems to have the better hardware on paper, but it takes them forever to get the drivers optimized to exploit the advantage over their Nvidia competitors. Nvidia's strength pretty much always lies in their drivers.

    Its hard to say one approach is better than the other absolutely---often, by the time AMD's drivers have gotten to the level where they have eclipsed the inferior Nvidia hardware they were competing with, the 'next big thing' is either there or coming shortly. Whereas, like you said, you get the standard "planned obsolescence" on the Nvidia side.
    Reply
  • 10tacle
    17847328 said:
    The cards are just fine, the games running Gameworks are the main problem...and i`m willing to bet that the 980ti will end up like the 780Ti in time ... there`s a thing called planned obsolescence that Nvidia seem to have got the taste of it lately.

    Uhm, no they are not. They run 10% slower than a reference 980Ti and a factory overclocked 980Ti like Gigabyte's Windforce leaves it in the dust...and uses less power to do it. Gameworks has nothing to do with it. Just a little memory refresher:

    http://www.anandtech.com/show/9390/the-amd-radeon-r9-fury-x-review/13
    Reply