First and foremost, we need to stress that StarCraft II is still in the beta stage, and no matter how slick this game engine runs, there may be performance improvements before the game is released.
We tested a solid sample of cards from our Best Graphics Cards for the Money column, and even a few more. We tested AMD boards from the Radeon HD 5570 to the Radeon HD 5870 and most of the cards in between. We also included Radeon HD 5850s in CrossFire mode. Representing Nvidia's lineup, we tested from the GeForce 9600 GT to the GeForce GTX 260.
We chose the newest-available Nvidia 197.12 drivers at first, but these tend to crash StarCraft II on launch. We therefore reverted to the 196.21 drivers for our testing. For the Radeon cards, we used the Catalyst 10.3 prerelease drivers that were publicly available when we tested. Since then, the official 10.3 drivers have been released.
The only surprise we experienced when benchmarking was a 16- or 32-bit color-option inconsistency that changed based on the graphics card we used for benchmarking. In general, almost every graphics card configuration allowed for 2560x1600 32-bit color, 1680x1050 16-bit color, and 1280x1024 16-bit color.
However, not all cards support 1920x1080, so we had to benchmark 1920x1200, and not all cards supported the same color depth at this resolution. We simply benchmarked the color depth that was available to us at 1920x1200, and for peace of mind, we did test both the 32-bit and 16-bit color option on the cards to see if the color depth affected performance. Our results show that the difference in color depth doesn't affect performance enough to impact results.
|Graphic Test System|
Intel Core i7-920 (Nehalem), 2.67 GHz, QPI-4200, 8MB Cache
ASRock X58 SuperComputer
|Networking||Onboard Realtek Gigabit LAN controller|
Reference Radeon HD 5770 1GB DDR3
*all clock rates have been set to reference specifications for the purpose of benchmarking
Western Digital Caviar WD50 00AAJS-00YFA,
Thermaltake Toughpower 1,200W
|Software and Drivers|
|Operating System||Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit |
|DirectX version||DirectX 11|
AMD Catalyst 10.3 Preview with the Jan. 21 Catalyst profile update and Nvidia GeForce Driver 196.21