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FPS in SC2: What's holding me back?

Let me begin by saying that my chip-set and video card drivers are up to date.

My computer lags (described blow) on the lowest graphics settings, even though my system slightly exceeds the minimum requirements. I know my computer is old, but I don't think smooth performance on the lowest settings is too much to ask. Especially since Starcraft recommends I set higher graphics settings in every category.

Here is when I notice lag (all settings on lowest or off):
1v1- in larger battles, frame rate drops to what is probably <10fps
2v2- just about any battle causes low fps, large battles are especially bad
3v3- just about unplayable, even when there are no battles, as the population climbs it gets laggy
4v4- not even going to try :(
Note: In 1v1 and 2v2 as soon as some units die, things start to clear up.
When the game begins, and its just command centers and SCV's I usually get about 52fps.

Computer Specs: (I know its crappy, but its above minimum!)
Dimension 5100
-Windows 7 32-bit
-Pentium 4 @ 3.0GHz with Hyper Threadding
-2GB PC2-4300 Dual Channel RAM
-XFX Radeon HD 4670 (This card is >or= Nvidia 7950GT)
-Intel i945P Motherboard
-620w Corsair PS

It's probably not a driver issue, because on less graphically intense games (like AoE) everything runs just fine.

I considered adding more RAM, but I wasn't sure it would do much since I'm only trying to play on the lowest settings and 2GB is above minimum. I know my processor is a single core 32-bit, but again Blizzard minimum is 2.4GHz single. I have a feeling my video card is good enough, so I'm wondering if my motherboard is just too slow as far as communicating with the hardware?

Any thoughts are appreciated.
14 answers Last reply Best Answer
More about what holding back
  1. Everything is holding you back.Especially the p4 is too weak to play sc2.Even my i5 750 at 3.8ghz lags at large battles so your p4 should crawl.
  2. So it sounds like the minimum systems requirements and Blizzard's judge of my computer isn't accurate. Because my 3.0GHz is obviously better than, "2.6 GHz Pentium® IV or equivalent AMD Athlon® processor," and the game thinks I can run at higher graphics settings than I do.

    But you are probably right, my old system just doesn't cut it these days :(
  3. A 3ghz pentium 4 is barely faster than a 2.6ghz pentium 4 for modern games.Especially if you think that a single cpu has to simultaneously handle both the os and games.Your pc is above minimum but only slightly as far as cpu performance goes.Also it depends on the resolution you you play at.Do not expect anything above 1024x768 to be smooth.
  4. That's a good point, maybe I should turn the resolution down from 1280x1024. I just figured that was something that relied on video card performance more than CPU.
  5. frenchbread said:
    That's a good point, maybe I should turn the resolution down from 1280x1024. I just figured that was something that relied on video card performance more than CPU.

    Try it and it might work.You should also download radeon pro and make a profile for the game.There you can enable all the optimizations and hope for the best.The best thing you could really do to improve your performance would be to buy a used s775 motherboard and quad core cpu(q6600) and reuse everything else you've got now.That's if you find these <150$.If you can't then a newer system would be a better choice.
  6. This will make the game look crappy but turn off physx and shadows.

    If they are already off then time for a new game or new PC.

  7. haphestus said:
    This will make the game look crappy but turn off physx and shadows.

    If they are already off then time for a new game or new PC.


    These are good suggestions. I didn't want to give up physics (which I had on low) but now that I turned it off, I have to say I do notice some improvement. Unfortunately I can't turn off shadows, and when you're already running the game on low settings having no shadows or physics isn't really a big deal.

    I have also noticed that my computer has been running a bit sluggish lately... not sure why but it's also very slow when switching programs. Such as if I exit starcraft I have to let it run for a good 30 seconds before it will be back up to full performance (its not like my computer ever uses all the ram I have). If I exit SC and try to open a browser right away its painfully slow.

    I think in May when the semester is over I'll do a fresh install of Windows 7. My computer works now and I need it for school so I don't want the risk of reinstalling all the drivers and updating (since most of the drivers on my hardware came with XP drivers I have to manually hunt down the new Windows 7 drivers).
  8. OK check this link out

    This model of Dell can hold 8GB of ram, now i am not for one second saying you do this , but think about putting a fresh and faster 4gb into it.

    This will help with the multitasking, and it "may" help with the playability of SC2

    I agree that you should stick to XP, win 7 will run fine, but you may have some compatibility issues with your internal chipsets etc.. and you wont have any support from Dell as they BLOW! - Period.

    Have you overclocked your GPU using ATI overdrive? It may count for nothing but you maybe surprised ;)

    All in, i think if you can nurse this system through you should build another!!

    Happy Gaming
  9. I think Crucial is wrong. Both my manual and CPUZ agree that my computer can only recognize a maximum of 4GB of 400-MHz and 533-MHz DDR2 unbuffered SDRAM. So basically the PC-4300 I have is the maximum speed my motherboard will allow. (I actually purchased 533MHz RAM with a more agressive clock timing, 3-3-3-8, but my motherboard won't run it any lower than 4-4-4-12). I also have it running as dual channel, which Crucial says my computer won't handle.

    I am still thinking about adding more RAM, because after I played a game, I minimized SC to bring up the internet and found my RAM usage at 86%. I'm thinking maybe it leaves some extra room and would use more if there as 4GB available. So I might look in to bumping up to 4GB.

    As far as compatibility issues with Windows 7. I've had none so far, and though Dell sucks for updating drivers, I have been able to update my chipset manually from Intel. Again, I've had no compatibility problems with anything at all. And all my drivers are up to date.

    Also, I am using ATI overdrive, I really think the 32-bit single core has to be the week spot. I can pretty much turn up texture quality and things like that without much slowdown, but physics shaddars and other CPU intense items cause a significant difference.
  10. Best answer
    software manufacturers deliberately understate the minimum requirements so that people with low end pc's buy there games, then they find out that they cant play it , so start thinking upgrades.

    as for upgrading your p4, forget about it unless its on a socket 775.
    if it is a 775 socket you may be able to get a bios flash that will allow a dual or quad to run on your board...
    but even then dont expect to much as you will be restricted to 800mhz fsb
    if you do manage that upgrade then think about a entry level gfx card like the 98gt
    remembering you will need at least a 450watt psu to run the whole setup....
  11. I agree with you HEXiT. Blizzard definitely understates the minimum requirements. I had pretty much left PC gaming for console gaming for various reasons. I never expected to take an interest, but I ended up liking Starcraft II a lot more than I ever thought I would. At this point I'm basically trying to nurse this PC to play on minimum settings. I have a least another year of college before I'll be working full time, and until then money for a decent PC isn't in my future.

    Its more than likely not worth putting in another processor with this motherboard. While CPUZ says I have the 775 socket, anything dual core is 64-bit, which I don't really understand how that will work on my system, and will obviously be restricted to the 800MHz FSB like you said. (I already have a 620w Corsair power supply so I'm not limited on power.)

    I think I'm just gonna bump up to 4GB of RAM, because at about $34 for 2x1GB of Corsair it seems worth a try.

    I also thought about buying a cheap sound card, to help take some work off my CPU. Because as I said, it only gets bad as population rises, or in battles so if the CPU doesn't have to worry about sound I figure it could help some? (If I can just play 1v1 and 2v2 with minor slow downs in large battles [~10fps for a few seconds], that will be good enough for me).
  12. buying a cheap soundcard wont help m8, the sound card has to process off cpu to be of benefit and the cheap 1s dont anything less than an x-fi extreme gamer (60 pounds) will not help your cpu at all.
    adding more ram will help but make sure its the same speed, and same timings or you could end up damaging the "mem management controller" or the ram if the timings are to different.
    dont worry about the chips being 64 bit, your durrent 1 should be 64bit, even if your o.s. isnt it wont harm they system and it would mean you can then use a 64 bit o.s. which you would need to do, if you want to see all that new ram.
    just dont try to run an o.s that is beyond your hardware.
    win7 premium 64 bit is about as high as you want to go. ultimate would be nice but would eat up to much cpu.
  13. Best answer selected by frenchbread.
  14. This topic has been closed by Mousemonkey
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