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Our Laptop Performance Tests
Basemark GPU (Game Scene)

Updated
What it is: A gaming benchmark that renders a game scene with action, then reports how many FPS the scene ran at, how smooth the motion was. Performed in a temperature-controlled environment (22℃) using Basemark 1.2.1.
When it matters: When you care about the smoothness of the motion in video games, and don't want them to look stuttery.
Score components:
Score distribution

Basemark GPU is a synthetic benchmark for measuring graphical performance in a game-like scenario. It provides a simple score that users can compare when shopping for a new gaming laptop. This article details how we perform the benchmark.

Test results

When It Matters

The Basemark GPU benchmark is a simple way to evaluate GPU performance and can be a helpful tool to help you narrow your search when shopping for a gaming laptop. This benchmark provides a simple score that doesn't require technical knowledge to understand and makes it much easier to compare GPU performance in a game-like scenario. This test is also the only way to show a Chromebook's GPU performance because none of the games that we benchmark support Chrome OS, and while there are Linux versions of those games, they don't work on Chromebooks with an ARM-based SoC (System-on-Chip).

Our tests

Setup

We run the Basemark GPU benchmark in a temperature-controlled room at 22°C (71.6°F), with a tolerance of ±0.5°C. We ensure that the laptop is fully charged and plugged in with its included power adapter. We disable Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, and we ensure that there aren't any applications open or running in the background beyond what's necessary to run the operating system. We use the Android version of Basemark GPU to test Chromebooks. As this isn't a performance over time test, we perform the benchmark from a cold state, allowing for a 2-minute break in between each run for the laptop to cool down. We run the benchmark three times; the posted result is the average of the three runs.

For the benchmark itself, we use the 'Official Test' with the following settings:

  • Graphics API: We choose the most 'future-proof' API for each platform; DirectX 12 for Windows (DirectX 11 if DirectX12 isn't available), OpenGL for Chrome OS, and Metal for macOS.
  • Texture Compression: For this setting, we choose bc7 whenever possible and ASTC for Chrome OS. This is because ETC2 isn't native to Windows and can only be emulated, while ASTC isn't supported on Windows at all.
  • Content Quality: We choose Medium, which runs the benchmark at 1080p with medium quality. This is mainly to accommodate lower-end ARM-based Chromebooks, as it's unlikely that they can handle the 'High' quality setting, which runs the benchmark at 4k. Basemark indicates that the 'High' setting requires at least 6GB of memory to run correctly.

Basemark GPU

What it is: The overall score Basemark GPU gives at the end of the benchmark. This result is the average of three runs.
Score distribution

In addition to an overall score, the Basemark GPU benchmark tool provides data about the average, minimum, and maximum frames per second. However, we only post the overall score in the review. Unfortunately, Basemark doesn't provide a scale to indicate whether a score is 'good' or not, nor does it provide any information about how it arrives at the overall score. As such, that number is only helpful when comparing the GPU performance in different laptops. The higher the number, the better.

Additional Information

Although a benchmark tool like Basemark GPU provides us a quick and easy way to test GPU performance, benchmarks don't always represent real-world usage, which is why we also include game benchmarks from four different titles. The most notable example is the Apple MacBook Air 13 (M1, 2020). This laptop scores much better than most other laptops with integrated graphics, even beating out some entry-level GPUs like the NVIDIA MX350 in the Acer Aspire 5 15 (2020). However, it doesn't necessarily make it good for gaming, mainly because it runs on an ARM-based SoC, for which very few games are optimized.

Conclusion

The Basemark GPU test is an easy way for those shopping for a laptop to narrow their search. As there's a free version of Basemark GPU available to the general public, it can also be a helpful tool for measuring performance on your own computer to see whether the GPU is performing as expected, especially after a major operating system update or after making hardware changes.

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