StarCraft II Beta: Game Performance Analyzed


True to Blizzard Entertainment form, StarCraft II doesn't need a lot of horsepower to deliver attractive visuals. And this is the beta we're talking about--who knows what performance enhancements the developers may make to the game before it releases. In any case, based on this early release, we think it's safe to say that most gamers will find playable performance accessible without worrying about a PC upgrade. It's just not that kind of game.

If there are any surprises, it's the CPU dependence this game demonstrates. While even the lowest-end graphics card we tested (a Radeon HD 5570) could handle attractive medium graphics settings at 2560x1600, there is a definite reliance on processor speed. The good news is that any modern dual-core CPU over 2.0 GHz should be able to run the game acceptably, and more megahertz will only help. Folks with legacy single-core CPUs below 3.0 GHz are going to have to sacrifice a lot of visual fidelity for playable performance, though, regardless of the graphics card they use.

If you're looking for a comprehensive review of the gameplay, I think it's too early for that. Blizzard Entertainment is still tweaking the title with regular patches and there will likely be a lot more patching and changes before the game is released.

All I can say for now is that the units (and therefore strategies) have been dramatically altered compared to the original, but the interface and art direction have been translated as closely as humanly possible from the original StarCraft we all know and love. With no single-player campaign to try at this early stage and no AI intelligence above “very easy,” the game itself isn't ready for review. What I can do is let you know that it's a heck of a lot of fun and it feels exactly like StarCraft should. When you think about it, those are probably the two best things we could have hoped for from StarCraft II.

  • bmadd
    no GTX480/470??
  • LLJones
    Nice review, never played the original, will have to give this a try. I'm tired of run and gun.

    A small request. Would you be so kind as to include a 4 series Radeon in your next review? Maybe a 4870 or 90. I know that my CF/OC 4770's give me 4890ish performance, but have no idea where this is in 5 series.

    As you used older Nv cards, I will guess that the game is DX11 but DX10(.1) playable.

    With a little luck, a few months from now, I will only need to look at the 5 series charts.
  • Gin Fushicho
    unnn. I wanna play this game, now I feel like your teasing me Tom's.
  • IzzyCraft
    "For example, Terran Wraiths are gone and there are no more Terran air units that can cloak"
    banshees yo...
  • patdohere
    Cool, so one question. When does starcraft 2 come out?
  • Ragnar-Kon
    lljonesWould you be so kind as to include a 4 series Radeon in your next review? Maybe a 4870 or 90.
    I have a Radeon HD 4870, and my performance on the Starcraft 2 beta is about the same (usually better) as my roommate, who has 5770. When I'm looking at the FPS it usually sits around the 78fps mark. I couldn't tell you during an intense battle because... well... I'm not looking at the FPS meter. In general, our cards performs about the same in most games we play. The rest of our systems are also comparable, with the exception that he has a significantly faster hard drive than me, which usually only comes into effect on load times (he can load a Bad Company 2 map about 15 seconds before I can load mine).

    Of course our little benchmarking isn't as precise and Tom's is, but maybe that'll give you a starting point.
  • Ragnar-Kon
    ragnar-konWhen I'm looking at the FPS it usually sits around the 78fps mark..
    This should be 48 fps, not 78. Damn lack of edit.
  • drutort
    i would have hopped to see more scaling and not so much cpu dependent oh well... also the multi core code hope that will improve cause everyone will soon have 3-6 cores... and if only 2 cores are giving you any advantage i hope they optimize it at least down the road
  • Lessqqmorepewpew
    why does fps cap seem so low?
  • deividast
    I was dissapointed that there were no GTX470/480, since i'm planning on buying them :)
    Other thing that bothers me is a CPU :( i have Phenom x4 at 2,3ghz and as i see this game runs better on faster CPU's :(
    and man, i can't wait to get my hands on this game :D