Starcraft II Beta Performance Previewccokeman - July 18, 2010
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The only real way to find out how the latest video cards perform in the latest games is install and then play through a section of the game. This will give a realistic expectation of what kind of performance you can expect. I will be using a custom 11 minute timed sequence using Fraps to measure the frames per second delivered by the hardware while playing this game. The in game settings will be set to Ultra to put the highest load on the video cards in this test. Anti Aliasing is not supported directly in Starcraft II but Nvidia has made the option available for its cards in this game. Testing will be run to see if enabling Anti Aliasing has an impact on visual quality and performance. To enable Anti aliasing, I will adjust this to 4x in each of the respective control panels and run the timed sequence at 1920 x 1200. The testing setup used will be my standard testbed listed below.
- Processor: Intel Core I7 920 200x18 3.6Ghz
- Motherboard: MSI X58 Eclipse SLI
- Memory: Mushkin 996805 Redline PC312800 6-8-6-24 1600MHz
- Video Card(s): GTX 480,GTX 470,GTX 465,GTX 460,HD 5870,HD 5850,HD 5830
- Power Supply: Mushkin 800 watt Modular power supply
- Hard Drive: 1 x Seagate 1TB SATA
- Optical Drive: NEC DV5700
- OS: Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
- Case: Thermaltake Armor +
The settings used in game are the highest possible settings with v-sync turned off for maximum framerates . While in many games, setting the visual quality this high presents challenges for less powerful hardware, Starcraft II is playable with the highest possible settings. Blizzard wanted to have scalable performance so everyone could play. Not just those with high end rigs.
What the testing shows is that really you can play this game at the highest video quality settings with pretty much any card in the $199+ price-bracket. Any card above this will produce frame rates that are well above what you can get away within an RTS game. Blizzard has made the performance scalable so that even if your system is not the latest flavor of the month, you can still enjoy the game.
When it came time to measure performance, the GF 100-based Nvidia cards deliver higher frame rates across the board, while the GF 104 based GTX 460, although heavily overclocked from the factory, performs well above its price point in comparison to the HD 5850 and HD 5830. Game play is what I would expect from a real time strategy game, but this is more about what the current crop of video cards can deliver performance-wise in this game rather than the intricacies of the game. When anti aliasing is enabled in the control panels of each respective manufacturer, only the Nvidia cards showed a difference in frame rate or visual quality. The HD 5830 did not show a difference in frame rate when Anti aliasing was enabled showing that AA is not enabled for ATI cards at this time. At this point, it looks like only Nvidia has this option available to the gamer. When enabled, the GTX 460 still has the muscle to deliver acceptable frame rates in the resolutions that gamers at this price point play in, namely 1920x1200 and below. If the success of the original Starcraft is any indication, then making the game playable for the largest audience will pay dividends and allow the franchise to soldier on.