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

Our Second Round With StarCraft II

When Gigabyte suggested that we review the performance of StarCraft II on an all-Gigabyte graphics card lineup, we were delighted. We wanted an excuse to revisit the game, even though we had performed a thorough performance analysis of the StarCraft II beta a few months ago.

While the game engine hasn’t changed much between our beta review and the final release, we weren’t especially satisfied with the benchmarking method we were forced to use at the time. This is because the only consistent way to benchmark the beta was by playing back a saved game. This involved watching a movie of game play that had previously occurred. While this test did stress the graphics engine, it wasn’t ideal for measuring real-world performance. In an actual game play scenario, the system is forced to calculate variables in real-time. Playing back a saved game with a predetermined outcome doesn't generate the exact same processing load.

The release of the full title allows us to create a more realistic simulation. The bundled StarCraft II Map Editor gives us the ability to build a map pre-populated with multiple simultaneous battles involving all three StarCraft races at the same time. Now that the computer has to perform all of the necessary AI calculations, instead of simply playing back a movie with a predetermined outcome, we have the opportunity to perform a worst-case scenario stress test of the game’s ability to push PC hardware to its limit.

In addition, AMD released the Catalyst 10.7 beta driver that supports anti-aliasing in StarCraft II, so we can see how Radeon and GeForce cards compare with this graphical enhancement enabled. Of course, between then and now, AMD made its Catalyst 10.8 package available as well, wrapping in the improvements introduced in the hotfix driver.

With all of these considerations in mind, it's a good time to revisit StarCraft II, post-release. Let’s start by looking at the hardware we're using to benchmark this game.

  • 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