Tests Show Batman: Arkham City Requires a High-end Notebook GPU

Here at LAPTOP Magazine we recently set out to determine which notebooks have what it takes to run today's hottest PC game, Batman: Arkham City. To that end, we put six of the latest laptops through their paces with the brand-new, hard-hitting Batman: Arkham City, and the results weren't pretty. Featuring the latest graphical innovations of DirectX 11, Arkham City stuttered along on almost every system we tested.

We used an Alienware M18X, HP dv7ASUS U46SV-DH51Sony VAIO F, HP Envy 14,  and the HP EliteBook 8560w for our tests. Check out the specs below.

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Alienware M18X4.0-GHz Intel Core i7-2920XM16GBDual Nvidia GeForce GTX 580M GPUs (2GB VRAM)
HP dv72.53-GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T94003GBNvidia GeForce 9600M GT (512MB VRAM)
ASUS U46SV2.4-GHz Intel Core i5-2430M8GBNvidia GeForce GT540M (1GB VRAM)
Sony VAIO F2.2GHz Intel Core i7-2670QM6GBNvidia GeForce GT540M (1GB VRAM)
HP Envy 142.30GHz Intel Core i5-2410M6GBAMD Radeon HD 6630M (1GB VRAM)
HP Elitebook 8560W2.30GHz Intel Core i7-2820QM16GBAMD FirePro M5950 (1GB VRAM)
Dell Inspiron 142.2-GHz Intel Core i3-2330M4GBIntel HD 3000 integrated graphics

Additionally, we used a Dell Inspiron 14 as a baseline for our tests. Equipped with only an Intel integrated graphics card, the Inspiron -- as expected -- barely managed to run the game even at its lowest settings, achieving a measly 20 fps with 1366 x 768 resolution, detail level set to Medium, and every graphical feature disabled. DirectX 11 was unavailable in the settings menu.

Surprisingly, many of the latest notebooks fared little better. Running with DirectX 11 disabled and default settings, only two of the laptops, the ASUS U46S and Alienware M18X, broke 30 fps.

Turning on DirectX 11 caused the fps to drop precipitously. Running the game at 1366 x 768, with DirectX 11 enabled and graphics set to high, the HP EliteBook 8560w achieved a barely-playable 23 fps and the Alienware M18X a snappy 43 fps, but of the six notebooks we tested only these two broke the 20 fps mark -- considered by many to be the minimum playable fps.

Playing the game with DirectX11 enabled, settings at high, and in each system's native resolution, performance became downright abysmal, with most systems (excluding the Alienware) averaging between 10-13 fps.

It's clear from the test results that DirectX 11 causes a massive decrease in fps on every system except for the  Alienware M18X and its dual Nvidia GeForce GTX 580M chips. In fact, only the Alienware consistently offered performance that we consider acceptable for gaming, averaging 34 fps with Arkham City's settings maxed out and 55 fps using the default settings and DirectX 11 disabled.

We should note that Rocksteady, the maker of Arkham City, recently released a patch that purports to fix the DirectX 11 performance issues for 64-bit Windows 7 users; however, we performed our tests before the patch was released and were unable to verify if performance has indeed improved. Regardless, most of the notebooks struggled to run the game even with DirectX 11 disabled. Clearly, if you're looking to play the most modern games on the go, be prepared to buy an expensive rig.