One month before the official launch of Valve's Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (August 21st), we put two reference laptops from Intel (Ivy Bridge Ultrabook) and AMD (Trinity A10) to the test to see if we can comfortably play this season's hottest multiplayer shooter on the go.

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) is the latest 2012 incarnation of the ubiquitous online Counter-Strike series, featuring the same objective based gameplay and updated with better graphics and new weapons. The game, jointly developed by Valve and Hidden Path Entertainment,  has been in closed beta since the end of last year and had initially promised to enable cross-platform play, which was later canned due to update frequency issues on the console platforms.

Based on the much acclaimed Source Engine, CS:GO's graphical system still uses the aging DirectX 9 feature set, which is not necessary a bad thing as beautiful textures/artwork and immersive gameplay is more important than gratuitious use of fancy shaders seen on today's shoddy console ports. Already announced and picked up by several prominent E-Sports tournaments and teams, the game looks set to have a bright future, both for public casual and competitive play

 

Benchmark Sequence and Methology:

We recorded a five minute demo sequence from an actual multiplayer session on the de_train map and then used Fraps to record FPS readings when we played them back on the test subjects. Since the game engine sends and receives 64 reports per second to the game server, the client machine should ideally maintain its FPS above that value so that no real-time movement and bullet information is lost on the screen. We are also looking for as little frame time variation as possible between scenes so that screen jitter is avoided.

We thought of three different use cases representing the different kind of gamers:

  • Professional Esports Gamer – 1024×768 (4:3), all graphical details low.
  • Casual – 1366×768 (16:9), all graphical details low
  • Casual (Graphics) – 1366×768 (16:9), all graphical details high (no AA/AF)

 

Disclaimer: The machines used in this tests are *NOT* directly comparable – one being a mid-range Ivy Bridge UltraBook and the other a heavy 14-inch reference Trinity A10 system.

 

Intel Reference Ivy Bridge UltraBook

 
 
AMD Reference Trinity Laptop