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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.

  • duk3
    Nice article.
    I wish the i5 750 was included as a comparison.
    Reply
  • Doom3klr
    5770 should run it with a 3 core amd
    Reply
  • Doom3klr
    5770 should run it with a 3 core amd
    Reply
  • ScoobyJooby-Jew
    a 5750+phenom II 945 runs smoothly with a mix of ultra and high settings. no aa.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • nativeson8803
    I wish they would have included my cpu: q9550 OC'd to 3.5Ghz

    Still relevant!
    Reply
  • madass
    Are you guys sure the NV cards didnt beat the radeons due to bigger frame buffer?
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • dingo_d
    Doom3klr5770 should run it with a 3 core amdYep it worked flawlessly on my 5770 1GB + Athlon II X3 435...
    Reply