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

Benchmark Results: CPU Performance

Since StarCraft II is clearly CPU-limited, we run our benchmark with different CPUs at various clock speeds:

Granted, our benchmark is meant to represent a worst-case scenario of what the gaming enthusiast might encounter in StarCraft II, but we’re still surprised that it takes a 3 GHz quad-core Phenom II to achieve a 20 FPS minimum. A 2.5 GHz Phenom II X4 barely offers playable performance.

Now let’s see what happens with fewer CPU cores:

StarCraft II takes a minor hit when the number of CPU cores drops to two, but on a single-core CPU, things really slow down.

In our previous StarCraft II beta benchmark article, we suggested that a dual-core CPU at 2 GHz would be the minimum you’d want to use for this game. Today's more demanding benchmark suggests that this class of CPU is probably less than you’d want under your hood during large battles, where the AI is controlling a lot of units. It might suffice, though, for smaller engagements, or at even lower resolutions and quality settings.

If you want to keep things playable during epic battles, we recommend at least a 3 GHz dual-core or a 2.8 GHz triple-core processor. We also suggest that you opt for a 3.4 GHz Phenom II or a Core i5-750 at the very least to ensure smooth gameplay at all times.

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  • 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
    Quote:
    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 amd

    Yep it worked flawlessly on my 5770 1GB + Athlon II X3 435...
  • adonn78
    Why is there not a 5770 in the round up?
  • nilfisktun
    Well my E8400 @ 3.6Ghz, and a gtx260 seems more then capeable of playing sc2. I got everything on ultra, and it have allways been running smooth for me. Even in me vs 7 FFA insane AI opponents.
  • urlsen
    I run it just fine on my P5b deluxe 1080P,E8400,4 gb ddr2,8800 gts 320mb, win7 64.
  • "Our 6 or their 4" I'll take their 4 any day of the week.
  • gpharman
    I run it fine on my X58 Extreme3, core i7 920 @ 3.60ghz. 12GB DDR3 1600, 2 evga GTX470SC in SLI, Win 7 64 @ 1920x1080 with aa maxed on ultra.
  • letsgetsteve
    gpharmanI run it fine on my X58 Extreme3, core i7 920 @ 3.60ghz. 12GB DDR3 1600, 2 evga GTX470SC in SLI, Win 7 64 @ 1920x1080 with aa maxed on ultra.


    show off :P care you maybe share some frame rates with your bragging?
  • krolo
    Yeah i wish my 9550 was in the benchmarks to see how the core2 duo stacks up.
  • I wish the hexa cores from amd were included esp the 1090t
  • rockstone1
    My GTX 260 and Phenom II 940 (overclocked to 3.5 GHz) plays nice with Starcraft 2... Ultra setting at 1920x1080 is beautiful, and I've never seen a slow down.
  • scrumworks
    L0tusHence why I regret my ATI purchase.It's good hardware but the constant driver issues & benchmarks such as these make you think twice.


    What driver issues you are talking about? I had none. If you don't care about power consumption, temps and noise then perhaps you should consider Germi.
  • Gedoe_
    Nexus wars brings anything to its knees, even i5 + HD 5850.

    That is why i always play low quality in nexus wars.
  • jfby
    Wow. I'm continually surprised seeing the performance of the 5850 vs the 460. I'm not complaining, and I wouldn't trade the months of fun I had with my 5850 before 460 was released, but it can be a bit much to swallow to keep seeing benchmarks like this... it just gives me a chance to advise others when they make a new purchase.
  • tipoo
    *Looks at 2.1GHz Core 2 Duo and Radeon 4670*

    *Cries*
  • xanxaz
    c2d e6600@2.4ghz and hd5850 1080P ultra detail and it's very smooth... dont know why they say it needs a dual core at 3ghz or a triple core...