Is This Even Fair? Budget Ivy Bridge Takes On Core 2 Duo And Quad

Results: StarCraft II: Heart Of The Swarm

While the lasting appeal of Blizzard’s popular StarCraft franchise is no doubt found within the multiplayer experience, I find the single-player campaigns well-designed, and always a worthy starting point. Rather than using our existing Wings of Liberty multiplayer map, I jumped into the Heart of the Swarm expansion and discovered that the "Harvest of Screams” mission was the first one capable of taxing my Core i5 gaming rig. This 60-second benchmark takes place as Kerrigan leads approximately 150 Zerg forces in to destroy the mission’s final Protoss base.

I purposely delayed my attack a couple of extra minutes to build up more Zergling than the mission required, plus I kept the game camera zoomed out and centered over the action. As a result, frame rates drop substantially as more and more units come into view, joining the battle. This may be considered overly brutal for your own style of play. After all, Core 2 Duo E6600 is the recommended processor requirement. But without a doubt, too little processor performance requires that you make compromises, whether you alter your strategy, zoom the camera in on fewer units, or totally avoid large-scale multiplayer maps.

StarCraft II is CPU-intensive, but unfortunately isn’t optimized for quad-core processors. Largely dependent on the amount of cache you can throw at it, Ivy Bridge-based processors appear to scale roughly 500-800 MHz ahead of the Core 2 architecture, leaving the Core 2 Quad Q9550 and Core 2 Duo E8400 at the bottom of our stack.

Cranking up graphics and texture quality for this second set of results yields frame rates close to how we'd expect to play this game with beefy graphics. Even so, it's clearly still CPU-limited.

  • ASHISH65
    Wow! this is the review i am waiting from long time.Really good one for budget gamers.
  • amoralman
    God dammit! Now I feel like I need to change my C2D E8400. >:(
  • DarkSable
    Now this is cool stuff.

    Also, amoralman, did you read this? It's basically assuring you that your C2D is still awesome as a budget processor.
  • Steelwing
    Very nice review! I've got a C2D E6600 (2.4 GHz) and had been considering the Core i5-3570K (or possibly wait for a Haswell i5) and was wondering about the performance differences. My CPU is still good for a lot of apps, but I can definitely see a reason to upgrade.
  • AMD Radeon
    pentium dual core G2020 is the minimum i can recommend to budget gamers. i often listed it in sub 450 gaming PC
  • lpedraja2002
    Excellent article, I'm glad I have a more accurate idea on where I stand based on CPU performance, I'm still using my trusty Q6600, G0 @ 3.2ghz. Its good that Tom's still hasn't forgotten that a lot of enthusiast still are rocking Core 2 architecture lol. I think I can manage until Intel releases their next revolutionary CPU.
  • assasin32
    I been wanting to see one of these for a long time but never thought I get to see it. I just wish they had the good ol e2160, and q6600 thrown into the mix. I have the e2180 OC to 3ghz. It's still chugging along surprisingly enough, I just realized how old the thing was last night after thinking about how long I've had this build and looking up when the main components were produced. Safe to say I got my use out of that $70 cpu, did a 50% OC to it :) and it still had room to go but I wanted to keep the voltage very low.
  • jrharbort
    I've always been curious about how well my own Core 2 Duo P8800 (45nm & 2.66GHz) would stand up against modern ivy bridge offerings. And even though I'm talking about he mobile space, I'm guessing the gains would be comparable to those seen by their desktop counterparts. Each day I'm reminded more and more that I seriously need to move on to a newer system, especially since I work with a lot of media production software. Thanks for the article, it provided some interesting and useful insight.
  • smeezekitty
    Kind of interesting that the old Core 2s beat the I5 in tombrader with TressFX on.
    Also holy crap on 1.45 vcore on the C2D
  • Proximon
    I would not have predicted this. Not to this extent. I hope we can make these broader comparisons across years more frequently after this. I predict this will be a very popular article.