DOTA 2 Reborn Hardware Performance Benchmark
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DOTA 2 got its major update with Reborn which is powered by the Source 2 Engine. New interface, new ways to communicate, new ways to play with Custom Games, are among the major changes of the game. Several graphical settings were also added, like Normal Maps and High Quality Dashboard.
The engine improves physics and cloth systems and supports OpenGL natively. It is also capable of (according to Valve) driving modern machines to their limits and can take advantage of available CPU Cores, 64-Bit operating systems, and memory, while still being playable on older hardware. Our first DOTA 2 benchmarks showed that DOTA 2 is playable even on lower-end hardware. Now we test DOTA 2 Reborn and see how it performs on different kind of systems.
Test System and Requirements
[ultimatetables 1 /]
Valve didn’t released a new system requirement for the Reborn / Source 2 engine so we used the previous requirements here; and that’s we will try to find out what could its minimum system requirements. We will also test it on Linux Ubuntu since the new engine supports OpenGL natively.
For benchmarking the individual settings, we used Intel i5-3470 with boost on, AMD HD7750, and Kingston 8GB DDR3 1600MHz. For the rest of the tests, we switched between AMD R9 270 and GeForce 9600GT because the AMD HD 7750 died along the way, so take a closer look at each graph. We also set “fps_max 500” at the console to remove the 120fps limit even with Vsync off.
Our benchmark sequence is 90 seconds long from a replay using FRAPS to get the frames per second.
Unfortunately, we can’t use our previous benchmarking replay and compare the results because replays are not compatible with different engines – that is Source 1 and 2.
Settings and Benchmarks
Anti-aliasing on DOTA 2 works like FXAA, it removes the jaggies by blurring the edges.
Benchmark: Off – 142 fps, On – 139 fps
Specular and Light Blooms
Specular adds lighting near the objects with lights. The ground color and lights change when specular is turned on. Light and blooms add additional glow around objects, but can barely be seen.
- Off – 142 fps On – 135 fps (Specular)
- Off – 142 fps On – 138 fps (Specular Light and Bloom)
With High-Quality Water set to On, you can see the objects and creatures underneath, and produce reflections of the objects above it.
Benchmark: Off – 142fps, On – 139 fps
Based on our previous DOTA 2 benchmarks, atmospheric fog adds cloud shadows and it also moves. But here in Reborn, it doesn’t produce the same result – no difference whether you turn it off or on.
Benchmark: Off – 142 fps, On – 140 fps
On High setting, the trees, characters, towers, and almost everything has shadows. Setting it to medium, only characters (heroes, creeps) left with shadows, shadows on trees and towers were removed. On Low setting, all shadows are removed.
Benchmark: Low – 142 fps, Medium – 137 fps, High – 132 fps
The animate portrait setting will only animate the portrait. Turning it off the portrait is steady like a picture.
Benchmark: Off – 142 fps, On – 134 fps
Additive Light Pass
This setting adds light pass on creatures (heroes, courier), making them look shinier.
Benchmark: Off – 142 fps, On – 130 fps
Adds lighting to the light-producing objects, like towers and light posts.
Benchmark: Off – 142 fps, On – 136 fps
Ambient occlusion adds “self-shadow” on objects. The shadow is visible on corners making the surroundings a little darker.
Benchmark: Off – 142 fps, On – 137 fps
Normal mapping in DOTA 2 works like Tessellation in other games. It adds bumps and details on surfaces and objects like tree trunks and stones.
Benchmark: Off – 142 fps, On – 139 fps
High Quality Dashboard
Adds additional effects like shadows and background animations on your dashboard. The effect is not visible in-game.
Benchmark: Off – 142 fps, On – 138 fps
Texture Quality controls the look of surfaces, leaves, grasses, and almost everything. Setting it to high makes the textures sharper and more detailed.
Benchmark: Off – 142 fps, Medium – 141 fps, High – 137 fps
Render Quality controls the overall look of the game – from the ground, grasses, all the way up to lighting.
Benchmark: 40% – 142 fps, 70% – 135 fps, 100% – 134 fps
Adds additional small creatures like butterflies, squirrels, birds, fishes underwater, and bats on dark places.
Benchmark: Off – 142 fps, On – 137 fps
After benchmarking all settings, we see that Additive Light Pass is the most taxing setting when turned on, diminishing 12 fps. The next most taxing setting is Shadow Quality at high, diminishing 10 fps. Game Render Quality at 100% and Animate Portrait settings diminished 8 fps.
The least demanding settings are Atmospheric Fog and Texture Quality at medium, diminishing only 2 and 1 fps, respectively.
Through these results, I built my own Custom Preset, turning off settings that eat up a lot of fps and settings that can be barely seen when turned on.
[ultimatetables 2 /]
While benchmarking the presets with different video cards, I noticed that each video card has different presets, even changing the resolution will change the settings of the presets.
Turning off all of the graphical details makes DOTA 2 looks like a 15-year old game. Setting it to Preset 1 makes the objects and creatures a little sharper. Preset 2 adds shadows and better rendering. Preset 3 adds lighting and ambient occlusion and creatures. The difference between Preset 3 and 4 can be barely seen. The only difference we can see is the lighting on well. Our custom preset is a lot better than preset 1, but preset 2 is a little better with shadows. But if you look closely, Preset 2 is a little blurred, because of lower rendering quality.
Performance-wise, you would want to set the graphics to Preset 2 or to our Custom preset. If you have a high-end PC, Preset 3 and 4 are your presets if you want to see DOTA 2 in full details.
Video Card Performance
The game utilizes the full processing power of the AMD R9 270 when set to Preset 3 and 4. With all settings at low and off, together with Preset 1, it only utilizes 32% and 34% of the GPU, while Preset 2 and our custom preset stays at the middle with 55% and 65% utilization. This shows that DOTA 2 Reborn (Source 2 engine) is GPU dependent, meaning it can use all the processing power of the video when all settings are turned on.
Meanwhile, the game is not that demanding when it comes to video memory. At Preset 3 and 4, it only uses 500MB and 520MB. This means that having 1GB of video memory is very well sufficient. Let’s see if having only 512 MB of video memory can deliver a playable experience at presets 3 and 4.
At 1920×1080 resolution, the AMD HD7750 and R9 270 are both playable on all presets, but the R9 270 is less affected with higher presets, from 142 fps with all settings turned off down to 107 fps at preset 4, about 25% penalty, while the HD 7750 took about 65% penalty, from 142 fps with all settings turned off down to 49 fps at preset 4. The 9600GT is playable on all presets except presets 3 and 4, delivering only 25 fps each.
Here we see that having just 512MB of video memory cannot deliver playable experience, at least at 1920×1080 resolution. Lastly, the Intel HD2500 is playable with all settings turned off delivering 58 fps and at Preset 1 with 47 fps. You might want to play at preset 1 as the graphics with all low/off settings looks really ugly. Other than the two presets, other presets are unplayable with Intel HD2500.
At 1366×768 resolution, performance hits are lesser with the AMD HD7750 and R9 270. The 9600GT is now playable on Presets 3 and 4 with 41fps each, but the Intel HD2500 is still only playable at Preset 1 and with all settings low/off.
Take a look at HD 7750 and 9600GT on Preset 2 and Custom preset. At 1920×1080, Preset 2 has higher fps than custom preset, on both cards. But with lower resolution, the custom preset is now faster than Preset 2 on both cards. This is because DOTA 2 presets changes its settings with different resolutions and video cards.
Graphics API Performance
Valve adds native OpenGL support for DOTA 2 Reborn using the Source 2 engine. The game can also run on DirectX 11 API, but the default is still DirectX 9. To be able to run DOTA 2 on OpenGL, you need to download the OpenGL support for Windows update. Then add “-gl” to launch options. To run on DirectX 11, add “-DX11” instead of “gl”. You don’t need to add anything to run on DirectX 9 as it is the default API.
Remember we ran these benchmarks on Windows 10, and DX9 mode was the fastest with 107 fps, followed by DX11 with 90 fps, and OpenGL being the slowest with 56 fps. Having a DX11 card doesn’t guarantee a faster performance using DX11 API, at least at this game.
Operating System Performance
Windows 10 and Windows 7 benchmarked with default API DX9 while Linux Ubuntu 15.10 on OpenGL. Only 1 fps difference between Windows 7 (110 fps) and 10 (111 fps) at Preset 4 while only 64 fps on Ubuntu 15.10. Using our custom preset, the difference between Windows 7 and 10 went up to 3 fps (135 and 132 fps) while Ubuntu went up to 80 fps. This shows that Windows / DirectX has superior performance over Linux / OpenGL, about 45% faster. It is still playable on Ubuntu though.
With 4 cores, the utilization is 68%, 92% with 2 cores, and 100% with 1 core. Judging by these numbers, you can say that DOTA 2 can’t maximize the full power of a quad-core. But when you look at the graphs, utilization across 4 cores are well distributed, meaning it uses all of the cores. Looking at the performance benchmark, DOTA 2 is more sensitive in terms of clock speed than the number of cores – you get more fps with a higher clock.
The high-speed dual-core beats the low-speed quad-core. 3.2 and 3.6 GHz were 90 and 94 fps respectively, while the 2.0 GHz quad-core is only 86 fps. Having a single core CPU is still playable, showing the scalability of the Source 2 engine.
DOTA 2 used 1.98 GB (Private Bytes) and 2.72 GB with the operating system and other software. This shows that you should have more 2 GB of RAM but the benchmark shows that you can. 115 fps with 2GB, 118 with 4GB, and 119 fps with 8GB – minimal improvements in single-channel mode. But with 6GB at dual-channel, the performance went up to 127 fps – 8 fps faster than with 8GB at single channel. With this game, having large RAM doesn’t necessarily mean better. All RAM were used at 800MHz.
Performance with Minimum Requirements and Lower
I got curious if having the minimum system could play DOTA 2 well. I imitated the minimum system requirements by disabling 2 cores out of the 4 cores of i5 and downclock it to 2.8 GHz. Luckily I have GeForce 9600GT which is exactly the minimum video card required along with GeForce 8600GT, though I believe that the 9600GT is way faster than 8600GT.
Our own minimum system is very much playable on all presets at 1366×768, with 41 fps on Presets 3 and 4, and above 60 fps for the rest of the presets including custom settings. At 1920×1080 resolution, Presets 3 and 4 dropped below 30 fps with 24 fps each. The rest of the presets are above 60 fps except for custom settings with 56 fps.
For what I understand about the “Minimum Requirements”, it is the least system that you will be able to “play the game only with minimum settings”. Based on our benchmarks, the minimum system requirement is too powerful with all the settings turned off, even at 1920×1080 resolution. I got curious again about what could be the real minimum requirements so I decided to test the game with less powerful components.
I downclocked the processor to 2.4 GHz and used its integrated graphics. We still used 4GB of RAM, but it is now sharing 1GB to the integrated graphics that makes it 3 GB RAM + 1GB video memory.
Now we are seeing a “realistic” set of minimum requirements. The game is only playable at Preset 1 and with all the settings turned off, both at 1920×1080 and 1366×768 resolutions. Higher presets and custom settings dropped below 30 fps, which is too slow for this kind of game. So don’t be afraid if you only have integrated graphics, but you can only play at preset 1 with it. We already addressed this to our first Dota 2 benchmark and I don’t know if the developers adjusted the requirements on DOTA 2 Reborn / Source 2 engine.
The 6.86 update adds an ultra shadow setting. Ultra shadow further enhances the shadows of creatures, structures, and the environment.
Though ultra shadow setting produces visible enhancements by sharpening the shadows, the performance also dropped by 14 fps, from 123 fps with shadows set on high to 109 fps.
The GOOD – DOTA 2 Reborn is still playable with lower-end systems and the best looking MOBA when all graphical settings are maxed out.
The BAD – Though there are no official system requirements yet, DOTA 2 Reborn / Source 2 Engine is more demanding than the previous version of DOTA 2 and Source Engine. Either you turn off or on all of the graphical settings, DOTA 2 Reborn has lower fps than the previous DOTA 2.
And if you looked at the previous system requirement, it might mislead you. We did the tests and the results show you can play DOTA 2 with system lower than the required system.
If we are to build the minimum system requirement, it would be like this:
- CPU – Dual-core CPU at 2.4GHz
- Video Card – Intel HD Graphics
- RAM – 2GB if you have discrete graphics, 3 GB or more if you have integrated graphics
DOTA 2 is already the best looking MOBA, and it even looked better with Reborn and Source 2 engine while still playable on lower systems. The best part is if you want to play with maximum graphical settings, you don’t need to have a high-end system, like i7 + GeForce Titan or AMD R9 390X. A high-speed dual-core processor and a midrange video card like AMD HD7750 are sufficient to give playable experience. I have to congratulate the developers for this kind of achievement and I believe they can further improve the game since this is their first release of its new Source 2 engine.