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Benchmark Results: StarCraft 2

Who's Got Game? Twelve Sub-$200 CPUs Compared

If ever there was a test capable of bringing processors to their knees, it'd be Tom's Hardware's StarCraft 2 benchmark.

What’s interesting here is that StarCraft 2 seems to differentiate between architecture and cache more so than core count. This isn't too far from what we found in World Of Warcraft: Cataclysm--Tom's Performance Guide.

Here we have the triple-core Athlon II performing similarly to the quad-core Athlon II, and the Phenom II X4 processors showing a slight advantage over both. Blizzard's proprietary game engine clearly favors Intel's architectures, though. The Clarkdale-based Core i3s perform close to high-end Phenom IIs, and the new Sandy Bridge-based processors walk away with a win (by a large margin).

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  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , March 1, 2011 4:40 AM
    Simulated CPU Chart: 3330 GHz

    o_O I'd like me one of those
  • 1 Hide
    alidan , March 1, 2011 5:05 AM
    id just love to point out, i personally will never again make a mistake of getting a hyperthreaded cpu over real cores. i made that mistake once, and never again.

    a pc will never be gaming only, unless you have more than one, in that case, for for the cheaper dual core hyperthreaded, but if you do anything else, get a real quadcore and don't even take into consideration the logical cores.
  • 5 Hide
    lunyone , March 1, 2011 5:23 AM
    I'm still thinking the AMD Athlon II x3's and x4's are the best buys around. If you take comparable configurations from AMD and Intel, AMD wins easily. Here is what I'm talking about below:

    AMD build w/AMD Athlon II x3 455 w/Asus 870 based mobo:
    $89 for Athlon II x3 455
    $90 for AMD mobo (Asus) w/6xSATA 3, 6 USB 2.0, 2 USB 3.0, 4 x DDR3 slots.
    ASUS M4A87TD/USB3 AM3 AMD 870 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 AMD Motherboard

    Intel build w/i3 550 w/P55 based mobo (Asus also):
    $130 i3 550
    $150-$10 MIRc Comparable mobo (Asus also) 6xSATA 3, 6 USB 2.0, 2 USB 3.0, 4 DDR3 slots.
    ASUS P7P55D-E LX LGA 1156 Intel P55 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard

    **These are all Newegg prices**
    AMD build (using the same Case/PSU/RAM/DVD parts in both systems)
    $179 + shared parts.

    Intel build (same parts shared w/AMD build)
    $280 + shared parts.

    This equals out to ~$100 price difference between the 2 builds, which to me is quite a bit!

    So in general when trying to factor in "Value" for the gaming buck I still see the AMD based system being the better buy. Assuming your using mobo's with about the same features. If you notice the Intel based mobo's will cost you more for similar AMD based mobo's. This is where a lot of the value comes from AMD. Don't get me wrong here, the Intel based system is very good system too, you just have to pay more for them.
  • 2 Hide
    amirp , March 1, 2011 5:32 AM

    Yes the amd build is pretty cheap, but swap you're i3 550 with the i3 2100 and the p55 mobo with the p67 mobo, and you have a build that is now worth the $100 over the amd build
  • 2 Hide
    amirp , March 1, 2011 5:35 AM
    sorry I meant to add, the drawback is waiting for the SB mobo's to arrive

    also I think this conclusion summarizes well AMD's predicament in a months time:
    "the Core i3-2100 performs as well as (or slightly better than) AMD's Phenom II X4 970 flagship."

  • 2 Hide
    dco , March 1, 2011 5:42 AM
    Up until now, AMD's Pentium II X4

    I almost missed this typo an AMD pentium hmmm something seems wrong.
  • 5 Hide
    Anonymous , March 1, 2011 5:48 AM
    So what everyone is saying is - AMD's old technology is getting beat by Intel's newest? This is to be expected.

    If the point is that Intel has the best budget system at the current prices - then yes, the point is made. But it looks more like you're trying to prove Intel is better just before AMD launches a new generation of CPU's. While I can't speak for anyone else, I'm at least going to give their next generation a chance.
  • -5 Hide
    kashifme21 , March 1, 2011 5:52 AM
    Why even bother upgrading when most games are console ports, and dont need more then 3-4 yr old hardware to run maxed out?

    Certainly no one needs quad cores for web browsing and word lol.
  • 4 Hide
    hardcore_gamer , March 1, 2011 5:55 AM
    Don't forget the fact that these sandy-bridge CPUS can not be overclocked
  • -1 Hide
    iam2thecrowe , March 1, 2011 5:56 AM
    id like to see a core 2 duo comparison to the new cpu's. Everyone says they are old and slow, but in reality they are similar to an i3 without hyperthreading.
  • 0 Hide
    dco , March 1, 2011 6:25 AM
    So glad you did the bench's in 1920x1080 instead setting the resolution really low to make the differences more prominent. Much more realistic and usable as a real world benchmark. good read.
  • 3 Hide
    haplo602 , March 1, 2011 6:25 AM
    what are you guys at Tom's smoking lately ?

    quote from the conclusion page:
    "Because our charts are arranged in order of processor price, with the most expensive at the top and the least expensive at the bottom,"

    but the first page shows the X6 being the most expensive CPU !!!

    Also I miss the price/performance graph:

    X3 455 = 88.99USD
    i5 2400 = 189.99USD

    from the average game performance graph:

    i5 2400 offers 148% of X3 455 performance but it is priced at 213% of the X3 455 !!!

    how about graphing the performance progression and cost progression in one graph to actualy see the best value for money ? the last graph only focuses on relative performance but price increase is not considered (at least only in the relative more/less expensive way).
  • -1 Hide
    haplo602 , March 1, 2011 6:30 AM
    oh yes one more thing. missing out on lga775 is a huge mistake. this way people have to run through several benchmarks to establish their still working rigs relative performance to the SB ships.

    and ... do NOT test HT on I/O intensive workloads (winrar). run something like super pi or a physics simulation on the CPU. I/O limited workloads are the most favorable HT scenario.
  • 0 Hide
    Bigmac80 , March 1, 2011 7:08 AM
    To bad they didn't add the i5 2500k since it's only $199.99 at microcenter..
  • -3 Hide
    joytech22 , March 1, 2011 7:18 AM
    Good to see Intel making great progress in the budget market.
    But they still have nothing to combat AMD's APU + GPU combo.

    Wait yes they do, i3..

    I wonder if AMD's planning to go out in a bombshell..
    Or will they make a comeback to remember them by?
  • -4 Hide
    Anonymous , March 1, 2011 7:33 AM
    Im not agree with you Toms Hardware. There is a lot of difference btw Intel and AMD cpus in blizzard games because in those games GPU isnt the cap. And Intel is way faster than AMD...

    Its stupid compare CPUs in games where the graphic card scores under 50pfs...
  • -1 Hide
    jj463rd , March 1, 2011 7:46 AM
    I think AMD needs to lower their prices again.Comparing to the Phenom II X4 955 BE with the i3-2100 on your conclusion chart the Phenom II X4 955 BE should be priced at $115 to $125 to be competitive.Of course AMD will have a couple months until their new CPU line comes out though so they do have some time.
  • 0 Hide
    SpadeM , March 1, 2011 7:57 AM
    In Europe the price difference between 2300 and 2400 is around 4$ in some markets so even better :p . I do have a request though, could you switch from winrar to 7zip for multitasking testing on future reviews? All in all, it's nice to see where things stand at now, even though only AMD is available on the market till ... april or may.
  • 0 Hide
    rambostyrer , March 1, 2011 8:10 AM
    Nice article there.

    would have been interesting to see some overclocked benchmark though, to see how the unlocked muliplyer of the Phenoms would do against Sandy bridge with no unlocked muliplyer.

    And I know it's an older game, but GTA has the reputation of being a real cpu killer, so would have been interesting with that ass well.

    And what did i learn? that my next cpu, will be a Phenom II 955, an upgrade from my current Athlon II 445.
  • -2 Hide
    darkchazz , March 1, 2011 8:14 AM
    Wait for bulldozer , then compare it with SB :/ 
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