A Free-To-Play MMO? Neverwinter Performance, Benchmarked

Neverwinter: Lots Of Fun, Despite The CPU Bottleneck

In my opinion, Neverwinter is an enjoyable action-MMORPG, set in the most popular Dungeons And Dragons locale: the Forgotten Realms. The game has a lot of potential, so what do you need to run it?

When it comes to graphics horsepower, not much, actually. At the minimum graphics details and 100% render scale settings, a GeForce GT 630 GDDR5 or Radeon HD 6670 DDR3 generates about 40 FPS, at least. Increase details to the medium level with 2x AA, 8x AF, and character detail distance dialed down 50%, and a Radeon HD 7750 or GeForce GTX 650 gives you more than 30 FPS, minimum. Even with the details maxed out at 1920x1080, a Radeon HD 7790 or GeForce GTX 650 Ti kicks out at least 40 FPS when the going gets tough.

If gaming across three monitors is your thing, medium-level details are playable at more than 30 FPS on a Radeon HD 7950 Boost, GeForce GTX 690, or GeForce GTX Titan.

But the real limitation of those configurations isn't graphics performance; its the platform itself. Neverwinter likes fast CPUs, and to achieve a minimum of 40 FPS using medium-class details, you need a Core i5-3550, at least. A Phenom II X4 965, FX-4170, Core i3-3220, and FX-8350 give you a minimum frame rate around 30 FPS. But don't bother with a dual-core CPU that isn't Hyper-Threaded. This game doesn't like Athlon II X2s or Pentiums.

These frame rates are reasonable for standard MMOs. Having said that, we'd prefer to see minimums above 40 FPS in a twitchier title like Neverwinter. When your survival depends on reflexes, maintaining 60 FPS is ideal, so it's probably going to concern some folks that an Ivy Bridge-based Core i5 is necessary for greater-than 40 FPS at the game's higher-end quality settings.

To be fair, the game is in what the developers call "open beta," so performance issues might be addressed over time. We've mentioned our concerns and we're waiting for feedback; it'd be nice to know if the platform bottleneck is addressable. But when a game opens up to the public, it accepts real-world currency, and the developer makes it clear that characters are not going to be wiped, we aren't going to let it off the hook because of a beta label slapped on. It's too easy for that to become an excuse when things aren't quite right.

Lower-than-expected frame rates aside, the game plays smooth enough to enjoy with a decent CPU and graphics card. It's also quite a bit of fun, offering a lot of content for such a new MMO. If you're curious about Neverwinter, I'd recommend giving it a shot, which is easy since it doesn't cost anything, and no content is gated from players who choose not to pay.

  • Yargnit
    Although I play on my desktop normally, I've briefly tested logging in to Neverwinter on my Ultrabook, and it is actually surprisingly playable with settings turned down.

    It's running a 3317u w/HD4000 4GB RAM on Win8 @ 1600x900 & it runs w/o issues on minimum settings (100% scale, 50% hi-res character draw distance).

    No exact numbers to report, but I can run around the main city (which with it being the central congregation point for everyone tends to be one of the laggier spots) without issues. Sure it doesn't look the best my any stretch, but it's workable without a doubt in a pinch.
  • de5_Roy
    i can't believe it...
    i could believe fx8350 sinking itself to core i3 level performance (it's kinda fx8350's routine) but hd4000 significantly outperforming radeon 7660g in min., avg., and frame time variance? with dual core i5 vs quadcore a10 even...
    how would an overclocked i5 3550 or 3570k or fx6300 would fare in this game?
  • rootheday
    well... would you look at that. Intel HD 4000 soundly beats the top AMD mobile APU
  • silverblue
    The 4600M is horribly limiting - it's that low clock speed. I can only hope that AMD have learned their lesson and gone for a much higher clock speed for Richland's mobile derivatives.

    A good measure of how badly the 4600M is limiting performance would be to give the 5800K a run with its integrated graphics - there's a significant clock speed difference.
  • Greg Williams
    TheCapuletI don't want a Neverwinter MMO. I want a Neverwinter Nights 3, with a proper toolset and brilliant online/modding community. That's what Neverwinter is all about. Twitch action has never been what this IP was about. Thanks again for ruining everything, WotC.
    You obviously missed where they said it is unrelated to Neverwinter Nights - different studio, totally different game. Neverwinter is merely a place in the Forgotten Realms. So bringing up 'waaaahhh, I want NWN3' is rather pointless here.
  • Greg Williams
    Greg WilliamsYou obviously missed where they said it is unrelated to Neverwinter Nights - different studio, totally different game. Neverwinter is merely a place in the Forgotten Realms. So bringing up 'waaaahhh, I want NWN3' is rather pointless here.
    And I don't see how an MMO based on the Forgotten Realms ruins everything. Why can't you have both this AND NWN3? Just don't play this one, and play what you want... :)
  • DarkSable
    Sure, you can use real money to buy in-game items, but you can also earn those items through by playing and trading in-game currency (Astral Diamonds) for paid currency (Zen, sold online through the game's publisher, Perfect World). This is an ideal way for a free-to-play game to operate: no restrictions on non-paying players, and everything in the cash store can be earned through play.

    I'm sorry, but this comparison is ABSOLUTELY WRONG. Yes, it's easier to trade for pay-to-play content in neverwinter, but you then say that this is far better to DDO, where you can't...

    Except that you can. Playing even a little bit will give you favor with certain patrons. As you get more of this favor, you are AUTOMATICALLY given "turbine points" which is the currency you buy with money. You can earn everything in the game just by playing; sure, it'll take a little while, but I'm sure that neverwinters' solution will too.

    So don't make a claim that's completely wrong, please. The "review" parts on the game felt so biased it's not even funny.
  • digiex
    That a lot of specs for an MMORPG.
  • Cryio
    This joke "the price tag is free-ninety-nine" looses its importance when you realise that it accumultes to 1 dollar and therefore isn't free anymore.
  • alidan
    wow... whats with the couboundness of this game...