StarCraft II Revisited: How Much Gaming PC Do You Need?

Test System And Settings

StarCraft II is very attractive at its Medium graphics quality setting, yet it is a lot easier on the hardware than the Ultra quality setting. Therefore, we’re testing the same Medium and Ultra quality settings that we used in our previous StarCraft II beta performance analysis.

The AMD Catalyst 10.7 beta drivers (and newer 10.8 package) allow us to test AA on Radeon cards. Nvidia's drivers have supported this capability from launch day. However, we limit AA tests to the graphics cards that can supply playable frame rates at Ultra quality settings.

While some of the Gigabyte graphics cards employ a factory overclock, we're setting all of the cards to their reference clock speeds in order to provide a more useful comparison for the folks gauging standard performance.

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Header Cell - Column 0 Graphic Test System
CPUIntel Core i7-920 (Nehalem), 2.67 GHz, QPI-4200, 8 MB Shared L3 CacheOverclocked to 3.06 GHz @ 153 MHz BCLK
MotherboardGigabyte X58A-UD3R Intel X58, BIOS version FA
NetworkingOnboard Gigabit LAN controller
MemoryKingston PC3-10700 3 x 1,024  MB, DDR3-1225, CL 9-9-9-22-1T
GraphicsGigabyte GV-R587SO-1GDRadeon HD 5870 Super Overclock 1 GB GDDR5Gigabyte GV-N470SO-13IGeForce GTX 470 Super Overclock 1280 MB GDDR5Gigabyte GV-R585OC-1GDRadeon HD 5850 Overclock 1 GB GDDR5Gigabyte GV-N460OC-1GIGeForce GTX 460 Overclock 1 GB GDDR5Gigabyte GV-R583UD-1GDRadeon HD 5830 1 GB GDDR5Gigabyte GV-N240D5-512IGeForce GT 240 512 MB GDDR5Gigabyte GV-R557OC-1GIRadeon HD 5570 1 GB DDR3 OverclockGigabyte GV-R555D3-1GI Radeon HD 5550 1GB DDR3(all clock rates have been set to reference specifications for the purpose of benchmarking)
Hard DriveWestern Digital Caviar WD50 00AAJS-00YFA, 500 GB, 7200 RPM, 8 MB cache, SATA 3Gb/s
PowerThermaltake Toughpower 1200 W1200 W, ATX 12V 2.2, EPS 12v 2.91
Software and Drivers
Operating SystemMicrosoft Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit
DirectX versionDirectX 11
Graphics DriversAMD Catalyst 10.7 BetaNvidia GeForce Driver 258.96 WHQL
  • duk3
    Nice article.
    I wish the i5 750 was included as a comparison.
  • Doom3klr
    5770 should run it with a 3 core amd
  • Doom3klr
    5770 should run it with a 3 core amd
  • ScoobyJooby-Jew
    a 5750+phenom II 945 runs smoothly with a mix of ultra and high settings. no aa.
  • L0tus
    The Radeon cards are clearly bested by their similarly-priced GeForce counterparts here.

    Hence why I regret my ATI purchase.

    It's good hardware but the constant driver issues & benchmarks such as these make you think twice.
  • letsgetsteve
    i wish the test was re-run with a bigger overclock so we could see how cpu limited the game really is and what card will really let it stretch its legs.
  • nativeson8803
    I wish they would have included my cpu: q9550 OC'd to 3.5Ghz

    Still relevant!
  • madass
    Are you guys sure the NV cards didnt beat the radeons due to bigger frame buffer?
  • kingnoobe
    I don't reget my ati purchase at all. I'd rather deal with driver issues *which I never seemed to have with ati only nvidia.. for some odd reason*. Then deal with crap hardware with nvidia..

    Of course this is just personal exp.

    Some games will run better with nv, and some better with ati.. Don't really care as long as I can play it smoothly. And usually 1-5 fps don't determine that.
  • dingo_d
    Doom3klr5770 should run it with a 3 core amdYep it worked flawlessly on my 5770 1GB + Athlon II X3 435...