Processor performance test

Starcraft 2 Beta: CPU benchmarks – Core i5/i7 leading

Which processor is the best for Starcraft 2? PC Games Hardware ran benchmarks with more than a dozen CPUs to check their performance in the SC2 Beta.

The current version of the Starcraft 2 Beta does not natively support anti-aliasing, so you have to force it via the graphics drivers or use special tools. To some extend the graphics of Starcrat 2 are well made and especially the organic look of the Zerg is quite impressive. During the battles between Terrans, Protoss and Zerg the engine of the game displays a lot of particles (dust, explosions, splatter etc.) which are primarily stressing the processor. The A.I. and the mass of animated units also add workload to the CPU. Especially in bigger combat situations the processor of the system will be the most important hardware component in Starcraft 2 - just like in most strategy games.

Starcraft 2 Beta (6)
Starcraft 2 Beta (6) [Source: view picture gallery]
Starcraft 2 Beta: CPU benchmark scene

Attention: Starcraft 2 is still in Beta stage, but it is expected that Blizzard has already optimized the game for performance and that the currently running test phase is primarily for balancing. Nevertheless it is possible that the overall performance will be increased with the final version of Starcraft 2: Wings of Liberty. Therefore our benchmarks are only representing the current Beta performance and the results will not be comparable with the final version.

Since it is almost impossible to play the same match over and over again, we made use of the replay feature to run our benchmarks. This means that the A.I. is not calculated, but the effect is negligible. We fast forward our replay to 15:30 and have Fraps record the framerate of the following 20 seconds while more than 60 Zerglings attack a Protoss base defended by several Carriers and other units. This is not a worst-case scenario we usually use for our benchmarks but represents a common gaming situation.

Starcraft 2 Beta (13)
Starcraft 2 Beta (13) [Source: view picture gallery]
Starcraft 2 Beta: CPU benchmark results
According to the Windows 7 Task Manager the Starcraft 2 Beta utilizes only two cores and our benchmarks confirm this: The Intel quad-core Q6600 is only slightly faster than its dual-core sibling, the E6600. But Starcarft 2 reacts very well to additional cache - especially the E8400 and the two Lynnfield CPUs benefit from that while it is a disadvantage for the Athlon II X2 250. AMD's Phenoms are doing very well, but can't reach Intel's Core i5/i7. The Athlon 64 array is rather slow.

Given our results and the fact that our little brawl isn't a really challenging scenario, a Core i5/i7 is the ideal CPU for the Starcraft 2 Beta. But a lot cheaper and not much slower is a Phenom II X2 545 at 3.0 GHz - our current recommendation. According to reports in the forums Core i7 CPUs have performance problems in certain situations and we can confirm this from what we saw during our gamplay tests - our benchmark scene is not affected though.


More articles related to Starcraft 2:
Starcraft 2 Beta launch: Beta keys and system requirements
Starcraft 2 Beta: Min vs. Max graphics comparison
Starcraft 2: Hands-on test reveals performance and texture problems

Picture gallery  (enlarge to view source)

Author: Marc Sauter (Feb 23, 2010)

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