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StarCraft II Beta: Game Performance Analyzed

Image Quality

Unlike the original, StarCraft II has a boatload of graphics settings with 13 different performance options to tweak, including texture quality and resolution.

For simplicity's sake, there's a master graphics quality setting for all of the graphics options (except texture quality) based on one of four levels: low, medium, high, and ultra. We're going to keep things simple and compare the output of the master quality settings. Here is an animated GIF showing the differences:

At low detail, the game has a very flat look, as there are no shadows being rendered. Lighting is also very simple. Medium detail offers a huge increase in graphical fidelity, with shadows and a more complex lighting model that allows for shininess and bump mapping. At high detail, glows are added to the scenes’ lights, and individual units get their own light sources. Perhaps more importantly, the shadows have softer edges. Ultra detail adds a number of subtle shader and lighting improvements, but the most notable differences are shadow transparencies (notice the colored shadows cast by the crystals), even nicer shadow edges, and more details, such as foliage.

The bottom line is that medium detail is the minimum setting you'd want to use to enjoy StarCraft II, so this will be our baseline setting in the benchmarks. We will also benchmark the ultra setting to see what kind of performance hit we will take when amping up the fidelity.

  • bmadd
    no GTX480/470??
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • Gin Fushicho
    unnn. I wanna play this game, now I feel like your teasing me Tom's.
    Reply
  • IzzyCraft
    "For example, Terran Wraiths are gone and there are no more Terran air units that can cloak"
    banshees yo...
    Reply
  • patdohere
    Cool, so one question. When does starcraft 2 come out?
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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
    Reply
  • Lessqqmorepewpew
    why does fps cap seem so low?
    Reply
  • 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
    Reply