Starcraft II Beta Performance and Image Preview

The Starcraft II beta has arrived! Read on to see how aspect ratio affects the game, as well as for image quality and performance comparisons.

Blizzard's known for making games that don't demand too much from PCs. The original Starcraft and Warcraft games ran on just about any computer. Warcraft III marked the first game where gamers even needed a 3D accelerator to play a Blizzard game, which was more than half a decade after the original 3dfx Voodoo GPU was released. These days, it'd be suicide to release a AAA title without any 3D support. Blizzard has upped its minimum requirements over the years, but it's still keeping an eye out for gamers with aging rigs. The Starcraft II beta falls into that same category. Modern machines will benefit from the added horsepower, and there certainly isn't much of a barrier to entry if you just want to play.

Aspect Ratios

Compared to the original Starcraft, which didn't even feature resolution options (640x480 for everyone!), Starcraft II is chock-full of settings. We went through all the various resolution types to determine which aspect ratio provided the most viewable onscreen area. The screenshots are arranged in order from most viewable area to least. The basic trend we found was this: the wider the screen, the better. You don't need to run out and buy a monitor with a wider aspect ratio to take advantage of wider resolutions. A simple change to the graphics settings, in the driver's control panel, should allow you to run lower but wider resolutions. If you're not averse to stretched images, you don't even have to bother changing the driver settings.

16:9 15:9 16:10 4:3 5:4

The table below summarizes some of the more popular screen resolutions and their corresponding aspect ratios.

Aspect Ratio Resolutions
16:9 1280x720 1360x768 1600x900 1920x1080
15:9 1280x768      
16:10 1280x800 1440x900 1680x1050 1920x1200
4:3 1024x768 1280x960 1600x1200  
5:4 1280x1024      

Image Comparison

The Starcraft II beta has a ton of graphical settings you can tweak. Many of them are hard to demonstrate with screenshots alone because explosions and flying debris don't translate well in static images. We've taken comparison shots of the preset quality settings and the shaders to demonstrate how much the game changes. Each of the shots might differ from actual in-game shots because many of the settings require a full restart to fully adjust. We decided to go for identical shots--rather than actual depictions--because the differing bases and random start locations would make comparisons difficult.

Preset Quality

Ultra High Medium Low

Shaders

Extreme Ultra High Medium Low

Performance

It goes without saying, but we'll say it anyway: The game is in beta. It's not done yet. The performance we see today probably won't be representative of the final experience. Our high-end system (which isn't even all that tricked out), outfitted with a Core i7 920 and a GeForce 280 GTX ran the game with nary a hiccup. Dropping down to a triple-core Phenom paired with a GeForce 9600 GT, we could still manage ultra-quality settings at fairly high resolutions. Our dusty Pentium 4 and GeForce 7600 GT combo struggled. It ran the game, but it certainly wasn't pretty.

System Setup:
High-End System: Intel i7-920, Intel DX58S0, 3GB DDR3, 750GB Seagate 7200.11 SATA Hard Disk Drive, Windows 7 32-bit. Graphics Card: GeForce 280 GTX, Forceware 196.21.

Mid-Range System: AMD Phenom 8750, GA-MA78GM-S2H, 2GB Corsair XMS Memory (1GBx2), 750GB Seagate 7200.11 SATA Hard Disk Drive, Windows 7 32-bit. Graphics Card: Nvidia GeForce 9600 GT, Forceware 196.21.

Minimum Requirements System: Intel Pentium 4 3.8GHz, eVGA 680SLI, 2GB Corsair XMS Memory (1GB x 2), 750GB Seagate 7200.11 SATA Hard Disk Drive, Windows 7 32-bit. Graphics Card: GeForce 7600 GT, Nvidia ForceWare 196.21.

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Discussion

293 comments
Sardinar
Sardinar

Between Extreme and Ultra there is a small difference in lighting, look at the probe carrying Vespene Gas container, or the Gateway. Ultra and High probably too, but I just can't tell any significant difference between either of them.

blackleather223
blackleather223

It is very difficult to see the difference between the high ultra a extreme graphics above also the units keep moving making it even harder to tell also each persons pc is different so they may not beable to see as much as a higher end may but I see it as a rough guest work because if it looks this great now it should look even better once done.

blackleather223
blackleather223

You say price has dropped. IMO I think as of yesterday it was around 60 I'm not sure what it began at but I don't thing price has gone down.

blackleather223
blackleather223

Shouldn't these questions be put in the hardware discution forms on here? Isn't this place where you right something about the game and not about will this work on this computer or not. I think I'm right about this but I have been wrong before. Anyways I think this game looks great and in the intro alone it looks more like a movie then a pc game. I hope this game is a nice as the intro looks like and I hope that it truly will run on a low end pc.

metaspherz
metaspherz

Hey, immunis, don't be so condescending and arrogant. Nobody asked you to personally copy and paste a reference link for the rest of us! Btw, it's: too lazy. NOT: to lazy. I guess you were just too lazy to check your spelling? Correct? And many thanks to the author for his short but informative article. I'm certain that more detailed, concise, and in-depth reviews will be forthcoming from the hoards of other writers and talking heads in the days to follow after the game drops--which happens to be TODAY! "My opinions are void where prohibited by ignorance."

regix416_basic
regix416_basic

I don't know... I'd really like to know the requirements as well. I have a Radeon 4850 and if it doesn't have enough power to run the game smoothly then I'm going to be rather upset.

Noobiie
Noobiie

ATI Redeon HD 5770. Is this okay to make the game to the highest quality?

usemeup
usemeup

Is it weird that i kinda like the low preset the best?

regix416_basic
regix416_basic

So what ARE the requirements? Even Blizzard.com didn't have any specifics and considering it's coming out Friday, I found that kind of strange.

cj0779926
cj0779926

man, man 4:3 Monitor is really old for such game, I can see how much disadvantage I have to face when I play again someone else.

aakashbakaya
aakashbakaya

I got a windows 7 laptop with: 3Gb DDR3 ram, 2.13 ghz intel core i3 processor and Intel graphics media acclerator with 1.25 gb of graphics memory. It should work but will it work well?

duron2
duron2

I ran this, on a 3.2ghz P4, 2GB ram, windows xpsp3, ati 4850 at 1280x1024, and i get smooth gameplay at high-ultra quality.

yacbos
yacbos

well game runs super smooth on my rig with e8400 and a 8800gt on w7 x64 just hope to see that game release before i RIP loool

Alivenow
Alivenow

These pictures really don't do the game jusitice, FINALLY got my beta key a few weeks ago and the game is smooth as can be. A few balancing issues that need to be worked out are the main problems in Multiplayer LOL when you can do a Rush faster with protoss then you can zerg it's a little strange. (And i'm not talking about a fast photon build in your enemys base) I'm talking units. STill this game is addictive as hell just like the first and I'm stuck on it like I've said before I've got it preordered and can't wait.

Crimsader
Crimsader

Spaceweed10 - nothing close to WoW, dude :|

SgtWhiskeyjack
SgtWhiskeyjack

Running it at 1680x1050 on a 40" LED, looks awesome, plays smoothly. I have an ATi 4870HD 1056mB graphics card and 4Gig of Ram. Spaceweed10, since when has WoW graphics been fail? I prefer fantasy to realistic in this type of game.

Suggestion23
Suggestion23

FYI, on FULL load it stays around 30-35FPS, otherwise it's around 50FPS.

Suggestion23
Suggestion23

Been playing beta on 2560x1600 with ultra settings. Plays smooth as. Haven't checked FPS. But It'd have to be 40+. Graphics are way better when you're playing the game, screenshots do no justice. Soundtrack is A+. AMD Phenom II x4 955 (OC to 3.8GHZ) Nvidia 1GB GTX285 4 x OCZ 1GB DDR2 800MHZ RAM Windows 7 64bit

LeonGameFreak
LeonGameFreak

hah! look like i need to build another pc to manage the high end performance to run this game properly but to be honest to game is damn nice! can't wait

UnknownPerson55
UnknownPerson55

build a new high end comp or build a new cometition rifle? choices...

oopomop
oopomop

@mhaneline Actually to be honest, the graphics are damn impressive. My graphics card plays wow at around 60 celcius (Yes celcius) and SC2 with graphics mid range (And once again, it looks pretty damn good.) it ranges from 67-75c. My graphics card is good btw, so these tempuratures dont ruin it. . And once again the graphics are impressive. It has a cartoony feel to it i dont enjoy, but the texturing looks on par with every other RTS game out there, including DoW 2. . @julianboxe I think they did that. A lot of the units have at least one ability that is castable, casters have 2-3 that are very nice. For example psyonic storm, force field, all of the Queen unit abilities, and terran have plenty as well. I mostly play protoss but i played zerg and terran a few times. Well i may not be understanding you right. Starcraft is first and foremost: An RTS game. Buildings, units, etc. What you describe that you wish SC2 was like seems to be Dawn of War 2, which is a great game as well. You should try it out if you haven't already. (If you hate it readers, keep it to yourself. I dont care.)

julianboxe
julianboxe

@superkiller27 I know what I´m talking about, and you just confirmed my point of view. Microing workers is just whats wrong. The micro i´m talking should be of the frontline guys. Using their skills, positions and etc.... In that point actually WC3 is better.

mhaneline
mhaneline

I would rather they up the graphics a bit and make people upgrade from 7 year old technology, than make it look bland so every computer from the last decade can run it. Then again, blizzard was never about graphics, and probably never will be. I doubt they'll ever release a game that pushes the graphics limit. Still, I would have liked to see a bit more improvement here.

superkiller27
superkiller27

julianboxe you have absolutly no clue what you are talking about. WC3 is about click spam, macro micro for sc1 is insanely good. Watch some of the games on team liquid, compare Flash with the other terrans and try to understand what puts him so far ahead of people, then you will understand how difficult it is to master SC1. No other game i've seen requires microing of your workers to maximize your macro lol

julianboxe
julianboxe

What I REALLY hope for Starcraft 2 is a balance between macro strategy and microing. SC 1 had a real good balance for 3 completely different races, but nowadays online SC 1 is more about who has more APM and became a click-fest. I wish they could do as in Company of Heroes: You still have to micro your tanks to flank and send units to cover, while at the same time see the bigger picture in terms of upgrades and resources, but you are able to do both because the game´s pace allow you to.

Alivenow
Alivenow

@ LiLxkRaZi Do you think a game fairy swoops in and changes out hardware from your consoles. Anything a console can do a pc does better if you can play your console for 5 years and mostly the same games are coming out on both do you really think it's going to change that much to where you can't on your pc. That's that's a moronic idea there no disrespect but it is.

athenian29
athenian29

Well, either way, this will be a good excuse to get an SLI rig going. Oh, that would be fun... And while I'm at it, I'd like more RAM. And a sound card. I don't have a sound card. :(

athenian29
athenian29

@LiLxkRaZi If you shop around at places like Micro Center, Newegg, Ebay, etc. You can find really good parts on the cheap. Here's a very good case for about $50: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811129042 Here's my motherboard, which is no longer sold but we got for about $120 (it'll be worth a lot less now, but we'll assume that price): http://community.spiceworks.com/product/2582-micro-star-international-ms-7250 Here's a single stick of 1 gig memory, 2 gig of which will go for about $50: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820178153 Here's my graphics card, which is hard to find but nowadays sells at about $50 (listings vary): http://cgi.ebay.com/8800GT-Superclocked-Edition_W0QQitemZ180476739635QQcmdZViewItemQQptZPCC_Video_TV_Cards?hash=item2a05408033#ht_500wt_1005 Here's a 1TB hard drive, which you can easily get for $100: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822136284 And there you have it. A good computer with all the bare necessities for $370.

athenian29
athenian29

@LiLxkRaZi I have omitted a monitor because it's simple to get an HDMI cable around $30, and hook your machine up to a TV: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16812120128 Most people already have a few spare mice/keyboards sitting around, and if not, you can find USB peripherals at rock-bottom prices anyways. Mouse for $10: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16826105234 Keyboard for $7: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16823107128 So, including the HDMI cable, mouse, and keyboard, the final tally is $417 for a computer that - and I will attest to this, since this is (for the most part) my computer - can run Crysis at high settings with x2 Anti-Aliasing with a respectable frame-rate, and can max out Modern Warfare 2 all the time (except scripted events). NOTE: I will acknowledge that my video card does not have an HDMI port on it, and that finding a card that does may cost another $25 to $50. There are, however, older sub-$100 cards that can be found on eBay and the like that do have HDMI ports. In any case, I believe I have made my point.

Alivenow
Alivenow

A79-0241 :: AMD Athlon II X2 240 Dual Core Processor ADX240OCK23GQ - 2.80GHz, Socket AM3, 2MB Cache, 2000MHz (4000 MT/s \\\\$54.99 Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 Video Card Qty: 1 Price: \\\\$109.99 Lite-On DH-24AAS Internal DVD Writer 1 Item:\\\\$27.99 PNY 2048MB PC6400 DDR2 800MHz (2x1024MB) 1 Item:\\\\$49.99 Ultra X-Blaster Mid-Tower Case and 400w PSU 1 Item:\\\\$54.99 Western Digital WD5000AAKS Caviar Blue Hard Drive 1 Item:\\\\$49.99 ECS GeForce6100PM-M2 (V3.0) Motherboard 1 Item:\\\\$52.99---- actully this has a 18 dollor rebate droping it to 34.99 7 Items:\\\\$400.93-----\\$382.93 this was without really doing anything, but grabing a few things off a site with a little time to pick out better parts and keep it about the same.This would be more then a decent starting rig for games once again you won't be maxing out every game with this, but you sure could play any game release and for the forseable future with decent settings and a more then decent framerate. My computer is much better then a console and I've not hit the 1000 dollor mark yet.

LiLxkRaZi
LiLxkRaZi

@Alivenow Uh... no disrespect intended.. but a gaming rig that costs 400 or less and can play every game out decently for the next few years? Are you completely moronic with that statement? Im sorry, but PC is the more expensive route. If you can list specs with a 400 dollar budget and prove me wrong, go for it. But to compete with consoles these days, you have to dish out at least more than a grand to have decent enough graphics and framerate to be satisfied. AND thats only if you know how to build your own computer. If your a tech newb, your probably gonna order a computer from Dell, HP, Alienware, and dish out at least 3 grand specing it up. And yes, most people buying a PC gaming rig will go this route, because not everyone can build a computer right. Console gaming isnt cheap, but then again gaming itself isnt cheap. I will always prefer PC to console. Strategy games can only be played right with a mouse and a keyboard imo. And FPS games... The reaction time with controllers is just to slow compared to a mouse. Although they are getting better on consoles to minimize that delay.

oria
oria

@Alivenow Dude, this is an internet forum. You didn't tell me to commit an unnatural act - that counts as polite.

Alivenow
Alivenow

@Oria As a fellow gamer even if we sometimes wont see eye to eye I agree do what you enjoy the most I'll not bash you for being a console gamer I own a few consoles myself, but i've found myself playing mostly games I can get on my pc which is just about all of them anymore sometimes I do have to wait a few extra months normally though I don't and if I do I get free crap to make up for it. I've just get a little hot headed at times when people want to claim pc is the more expensive route when it's really not people who go on about it hurt my choice of gaming more then help cause it gives misinformation to people who are looking into getting a decent gaming rig. Most of them feel like they have to get that 2-3k rig to stay ahead of the curve when (which I will say back in the hay days of pc gaming that was true I remember my first pc rig that claimed to be for faming costing me right under 2k) Nowdays though you can walk away without spending more then 400 DOLLARS lol and still be playing everygame out decently for the next few years.

oria
oria

@Alivenow Well, as I said, I gave up serious PC gaming 3 years ago when a good gaming rig cost north of \\$2-3000 and decent video cards ran \\$3-500 each. I actually made a conscious decision to go console when I realized the new video card I wanted cost more than the 360, and I needed 2 of 'em. But, you have a point about PCs getting cheaper and consoles getting more expensive, and I still know how to build a system (I hope)... That doesn't change the fact that there are WAY more excellent console only games than worthwhile PC exclusives - though again you are correct that I used to get a lot more long-term use out of my PC games (still do if you count the hours I spend screwing around with casual games and POPcap puzzlers). I played Warcraft 3, Civ 4, MOO 2, all the Sim City games, BF 1942 and it's mods for years after their release, as opposed to the few months I spend on each console game (though you can trade in console games). You've made some good points, but I still think graphics have come far enough on the consoles that gaming just looks better and is more fun on a big screen. But then again, maybe it is just down to the fact I spend all day looking at a computer for work...

Alivenow
Alivenow

@ Oria Look we don't care how much money you have or what you think you have to blow alot of money just to play games on the pc decently and your wrong. Yes you do have to spend a little more time with a pc at first, but way more rewarding just because you felt the need to upgrade none stop dosen't mean it's the right way to do it I know people still using 66xx series and still playing games a decent specs. I'm not to far behind you and years and I've upgraded my pc about as often as a console. I will say PC gaming use to be more expensive back in the golden days now with the prices of Consoles staying around \\\$400 5 years after release and the next gen talking about 700 for the base price(we already saw the playstation 3 stay at that price for almost a year before droping) not counting all the extra stuff you have to get and 60 dollor games that no one plays online after 6 months cause part 2 of the game is out. You say people that do the pc scene have no life your full of yourself cause if you had been messing around with pc's for 20 years wouldn't take you more then an hour to put one together. I normally can break them down and build one within 30 min todays pcs are almost idot proof.

Alivenow
Alivenow

@doomsong83 The story is actully going to be more hands on then Starcraft so each of the 3 is going to be that factions single player campaign. Even though you will only be able to play Terrans in Wings of Liberty campaign you still will be able to play all 3 races in multiplayer and just vs.

Doomsong83
Doomsong83

Why is this being split into three different releases again?

oria
oria

@nikca16 I've got a lot of computer parts because I'm in my thirties and was a die-hard PC gamer for 20 years, up to about 3 years ago. I doubt the hobby has changed much since then. You upgrade your video card, hard drives, etc. once every 2-3 years, you wind up with a lot of obsolete junk you paid a lot of money for and don't want to just throw out. Believe me, I can afford a gaming PC if I wanted the aggravation and felt like wasting my money (even more). But I don't - It's called having a life. I stopped when it reached the point of buying a new mother board and TWO video cards for the next upgrade - I couldn't see blowing another $700 for the 2 games I missed out on that didn't wind up on the consoles in some form (espescially given all the great games I was missing out on that were console only).

Alivenow
Alivenow

Yeah I'm feeling bad, but good atm some sites have posted up a cracked version of the beta you can't play online, but you can play with 3 easy computer AI's if your really wanted to see this game in action good hunting. PS Can't wait for this game to release later this year. PSS who ever game me a thumbs down sorry I just couldn't help my self when it poped up on google. Been waiting for this game for years now I've already got mine paid for so a little play on a single map isn't hurting anyone.

valent1n
valent1n

sc2 rules, delayed but rules

Geekhippie
Geekhippie

Just got picked for the Beta!! 20% done. Geekhippie is my name and Starcraft 2 is my game. PC's rule and Mac's drool. :P

k0r3aN_pR1d3
k0r3aN_pR1d3

Don't forget the music. I find the Terran soundtrack to be strangely addicting.

LynQ
LynQ

that is why i love about blizzard they don't make games that only run on high performance computers any game with a decent computer can play them

nikca16
nikca16

lol just read Oria's original posts.... in my opinion, u r just bitter because its either u cant afford to build a system or simply dono how (u tried and failed since u have many pc parts dusting around ur crib?). and "building powerful systems and then tweaking them" is called a job or a hobby. its a big industry outthere,) well at least u have ur HD projector lol. go get ur 5 TVs and 10 consoles. feel bad for u > u were updating ur mobo/cpu/ram/gpu every 3 years? still cant get a fast pc? if u go to a book store, u can find some literature on overclocking and so called "gamer" pcs . read some. it will help u decide what parts u need (and yes sometimes cheaper is better when it comes to certain components). good luck