Supreme Commander Hardware Performance Guide

Find out how to improve your system performance in Supreme Commander.


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Supreme Commander pushes the real-time strategy genre forward by introducing gigantic maps and new unit-design concepts to transform mere battles and skirmishes into epic conflicts. The size of the maps forces players to use the game's camera control to zoom in on the map to watch over a single battle or to zoom out for the big picture. You need all the information you can get when the enemy has artillery that can hit targets from across the map. Multi-monitor support lets you keep track of two separate areas on the map--one view on each screen.

Gas Powered Games built Supreme Commander to be the RTS game for the next five years. The game will come with a map editor and a customizable user-interface system specifically designed to increase the game's longevity by giving users the ability to evolve the game. It's specifically designed to take advantage of hardware to make sure that game performance can scale as new hardware hits the market. Supreme Commander is the first game we've seen that actually takes advantage of multiple processor cores.

Game Settings

Even if you have the most powerful computer on the block, Supreme Commander will make it buckle. Fortunately, a few quick changes to your settings will right your frame rates in no time--but at a graphical cost.


Weak video cards need not apply. If you want to play Supreme Commander and make it look even remotely pretty, it’s time to start shopping. We tested out 14 cards to help you narrow down your search.


Supreme Commander wants power, lots of it. If you want your computer to keep track of hundreds of units in a timely manner, you might want to consider a CPU upgrade.


Supreme Commander plays well when you feed it lots of RAM. We tested the game out with 1GB, 2GB, and even 4GB of system memory.


Shadow and fidelity settings affect performance and the look of the game tremendously. Shadows take up a huge amount of processing power since the video card has to track the silhouettes of 300 units simultaneously. Fidelity is probably the most important game setting you can use to balance out performance and graphics. Low fidelity settings will give you enormous performance gains, but the game won't be very pretty.

The level of detail setting changes when the game decides to load in more complex graphics depending upon your zoom level. With a high level of detail you can zoom out pretty far and still see your units. However, with a low level of detail, the game turns your units into little icons at closer zoom levels, which reduces the graphical load a decent amount.

System Setup: Intel Core 2 X6800, Intel 975XBX2, 2GB Corsair XMS Memory (1GB x 2), 160GB Seagate 7200.7 SATA Hard Disk Drive, Windows XP Professional SP2. Graphics Cards: Radeon X1950 XTX, Catalyst 7.1.

Image Comparison

High Quality vs Medium Quality

Medium Quality vs. Low Quality

High Fidelity vs. Medium Fidelity

Medium Fidelity vs. Low Fidelity

Image Quality Continued

High Shadows vs. Medium Shadows

Medium Shadows vs. Low Shadows

Low Shadows vs. No Shadows

High Texture Detail vs. Medium Texture Detail

Medium Texture Detail vs. Low Texture Detail

High Level of Detail vs. Medium Level of Detail

Medium Level of Detail vs. Low Level of Detail

Video Cards

Supreme Commander will benefit from a great video card. The high-end cards we tested all performed well, but the demanding high and medium quality settings made the game unplayable on entry level cards. We could only get 12 frames per second out of the Radeon X1300 when we tried reducing the graphics level down to low quality.

Supreme Commander is also one of the few games that takes full advantage of dual-monitor setups. With two monitors hooked up, you can dedicate one screen to watching the battle from far above and use your main screen to get down in the detail. Beware, though: Using two monitors will also increase the hit on your video card, depending on how you play.

We noticed that the GeForce cards didn't render the force fields correctly in the game. The shields on the ATI cards had more pronounced animation effects, while the Nvidia cards only drew the occasional faint blue arc.

Nvidia GeForce 7900 GTX vs. ATI Radeon X1950 XTX

System Setup: Intel Core 2 X6800, Intel 975XBX2, 2GB Corsair XMS Memory (1GB x 2), 160GB Seagate 7200.7 SATA Hard Disk Drive, Windows XP Professional SP2. Graphics Cards: GeForce 8800 GTX 768MB, GeForce 8800 GTS 640MB, GeForce 7950 GX2 1GB, GeForce 7900 GTX 512MB, GeForce 7900 GT 256MB, GeForce 7600 GT 256MB, GeForce 6800 128MB, GeForce 6600GT 128MB, Radeon X1950 XTX 512MB, Radeon X1900 XTX 512MB, Radeon X1950 Pro 256MB, Radeon X1650 XT 256MB, Radeon X1300 256MB, Radeon X600 128MB. Graphics Drivers: Nvidia ForceWare 97.92, Nvidia ForceWare 93.71, ATI Catalyst 7.1.


Make sure that your CPU won't be a bottleneck before you go out and purchase the latest in pixel-pushing power. If there's one component Supreme Commander can't get enough of, it's the CPU. The game lives on brute processing power--the more you give it, the better it runs. The game got progressively faster as we moved up the MHz scale, and the numbers went even higher when we moved to quad-core. Most games still don't take full advantage of multiple cores, but Supreme Commander sure does. Consider upgrading the CPU if you're still running on a single-core chip.

System Setup: Intel Core 2 Quad X6700, Intel Core 2 X6800, Intel 975XBX2, AMD Athlon 64 FX-60, AMD Athlon 64 FX-57, ASUS A8R32-MVP Deluxe, 2GB Corsair XMS Memory (1GB x 2), 160GB Seagate 7200.7 SATA Hard Disk Drive, Windows XP Professional SP2. Graphics Card: GeForce 8800 GTX, Nvidia ForceWare 97.72


The large number of units that Supreme Commander can support at any given time means that you're likely to encounter hiccups when the action gets intense. The game will regularly throw hundreds of units on the screen, and your computer has to keep track of each one. We found that you'll need 1GB of RAM, at the bare minimum, to play the game effectively. If you've exhausted all the other video card and CPU upgrade avenues, you might want to consider bringing your total system memory up to 2GB or 4GB levels. We found that the game felt slightly more responsive with 4GB of memory even though it wasn't reflected in the frame rate results.

System Setup: Intel Core 2 X6800, Intel 975XBX2, 4GB Corsair XMS Memory (1GB x 4), 2GB Corsair XMS Memory (1GB x 2), Corsair XMS Memory 1GB, Corsair XMS Memory 512MB, 160GB Seagate 7200.7 SATA Hard Disk Drive, Windows XP Professional SP2. Graphics Card: GeForce 8800 GTX 768MB, Nvidia ForceWare 97.92.

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