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

Test Hardware: Graphics Cards And Platform

Gigabyte GV-R587SO-1GD Radeon HD 5870 Super Overclock

With a 950 MHz core clock and 1250 MHz memory, this Super Overclock edition card boasts the highest factory frequencies we’ve seen to date on a Radeon HD 5870. It leverages a quiet and capable cooling system to offer plenty of performance without generating very much noise. You can read more about this card in our review here.

Gigabyte GV-N470SO-13I GeForce GTX 470 Super Overclock

The GV-470SO-13I is the highest-clocked GeForce GTX 470 available at the time of writing. With 700/1400/1674 MHz core/shader/memory frequencies, this is another low-noise board. It's equipped with three quiet cooling fans that facilitate low GPU temperatures and a minimal acoustic footprint. Have a look at our GV-N470SO-13I review here.

Gigabyte GV-R585OC-1GD Radeon HD 5850 Overclocked

The Radeon HD 5850 continues to provide solid gaming performance in the $300 price range. Gigabyte adds its own special sauce to the standard formula with a mild 40 Hz core overclock, resulting in a 765 MHz core and 1000 MHZ GDDR5 memory frequencies. As you can see, the company also uses its own non-reference cooling solution.

Gigabyte GV-N460OC-1GI GeForce GTX 460 Overclocked

The GeForce GTX 460 has already established itself as a strong $200-$250 offering in Nvidia’s stable, and Gigabyte’s overclocked model sports a 40 MHz core and 80 MHz shader clock rate improvement over the reference card. As with all of the other boards we've seen thus far, this one employs aftermarket cooling. For more information on how this board stacks up to the other GeForce GTX 460s out there, check out our nine-card roundup.

Gigabyte GV-R583UD-1GD Radeon HD 5830

The Radeon HD 5830 was alone at the $200 price point until Nvidia's GeForce GTX 460 arrived, and we used this specific model previously in one of our System Builder Marathon configurations. We found that the non-reference cooling system on this model resulted in a quiet, capable card. You can read about our experience with two of these graphics cards in a CrossFire configuration here.

Gigabyte GV-N240D5-512I GeForce GT 240 GDDR5

In light of the fact that Nvidia's GeForce 9600 GT has become scarce, the company's GeForce GT 240 is a much more attractive option. This particular model runs just outside of reference specifications with a 20 MHz slower shader clock. However, this makes no perceptible difference in performance compared to the standard model. It is notable that this is the only 512 MB card in our performance exploration, as all of the other cards sport at least 1 GB of RAM.

Gigabyte GV-R557OC-1GI Radeon HD 5570 DDR3 Overclocked

Gigabyte’s overclocked Radeon HD 5570 has a 30 MHz core clock rate advantage over the reference model, but the memory frequency is set 100 MHz slower than the 900 MHz reference board. This memory speed deficit is somewhat mitigated by the slight core overclock, combined with a large 1 GB frame buffer. 

Gigabyte GV-R555D3-1GI Radeon HD 5550 DDR3

The GV-R555D3-1GI is Gigabyte’s take on the Radeon HD 5550 DDR3, running the standard 550 MHz core and 800 MHz memory clocks. The card features a beefier-than-reference cooler and 1 GB of memory.

Gigabyte X58A-UD3R

Gigabyte’s X58A-UD3R motherboard offers a tantalizing mix of performance, features, and a low price that earned it our Recommended Buy Award earlier this year. This platform remains a strong choice, and we use it for our tests today.

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  • darksai
    I think the requirements are a bit overstated.. I feel the test is too artificial, as worst case rts is very different from worst case fps, cos in fps a smoke grenade could off at almost any time while super large battles like this only happen a) in very late game and b) with more than 2 players. Another factor, especially for cpu performance, is that ai is more taxing than a real player as the ai's apm is far greater than a humans, thus those units need do a lot recalculate a lot more often. So if one is only playing multiplayer, more particularly 1v1, the results would be very different. Also, even in larger games, big battles will typically have much fewer units because of supply limit and the fact higher tech units cost more food, resulting in much less calculations (compare how many zerglings you could have for one ultralisk for example)
  • darksai
    This may be "worst case" but is far from "real world" imo
  • Gonemad

    The campaign offer a map with the perfect script for this sort of testing.

    It is a map offered by the Zeratul crystal, where you control the Protoss race, and you must survive at least 1500 units of a Zerg-hybrid-protoss onslaught. Enable god mode on the player side, and let it loose.

    The game itself eventually will recommend to lower the graphical settings. The script seems to spawn an infinite amount of enemies, since it is by definition a no-win scenario, and you must eventually die. I don't know why you didn´t use that. The script seems pretty predictable and repeatable to me. And, since the player is in god mode, the onslaught will keep going until some stack overflow happens, or it will keep going forever. Otherwise, as more units die, the AI speeds up and fps should increase as more units are destroyed.
  • Anonymous
    Second Gonemad's idea and my computer being a 2P Opteron 2376 2,3Ghz with 16Gb 667Mhz DDR2 and a 1Gb 9600GT Nvidia (passive cooled) runs the game without hickups on 27 to 25 FPS according to the gameinterface on Ultra on 1920x1080 on all levels except 2 being the one mentioned above and All-in (the Final)where I get stuck at 19 to 21

    So I you say the 240 and 260 give these bad figures I wonder why they are going with those energy hoggers and Me with my 75Watt card (on peak) am doing good to great.
  • sirkillalot
    im happy enough with my 5870 results

    ps whats starcraft ?
  • Phoenixlight
    It's a game.
  • sirkillalot
    i no i was kidding
  • Avro Arrow
    Starcraft II is a weird game seeing as how it seems that it performs worse with multi-GPU setups. Thank god it hasn't affected me that way. Gameplay has been smooth as silk. I'd actually like to see Rome: Total War used as a gaming benchmark because with all the movement of the military units, a card will be pressed not to lag. In addition, the sheer scope of these massive battles uses up a ton of video card RAM. I'd be interested to see benchmarks on that game, even if it is on the old side. :sol: