Testing Methodology

In total we tested 21 different graphics card configurations using both ATI and Nvidia GPUs in all price ranges. We ran benchmarks using the “ultra”, "high" and "medium" quality presets with the anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering quality settings disabled.

StarCraft II does not include the option to enable anti-aliasing or anisotropic filtering in-game. Furthermore, it was not possible to force these settings when using any of the ATI graphics cards. The Nvidia-based cards were able to use AA/AF quality settings when forced at the driver level, but we opted not to use these filtering settings so we could make a fair comparison among all the cards.

The latest official drivers were used for all graphics cards, though we were unable to get SLI or Crossfire working properly and therefore boost the game's performance with more than one GPU at work. We did try some unreleased ATI drivers, but this didn't allow us to use AA/AF or enhance performance in any way.

For measuring frame rates we relied on Fraps, recording five minutes of gameplay using a replay of an 8-player online battle. This replay featured a combination of human (4) and AI (4) players placing the maximum amount of stress on the system. The Intel Core i7 920 processor was overclocked to 3.70GHz in an attempt to remove any bottlenecks that could influence high-end graphics cards scores.

Each test was conducted 3 times, with a pre-cache test included which we relied on more heavily for the minimum frame rate results.

Towards the end of the article you will find our CPU scaling performance tests using a wide range of Intel and AMD processors.

Test System Specs
- Intel Core i7 920 (Overclocked @ 3.70GHz)
- x3 2GB G.Skill DDR3 PC3-12800 (CAS 9-9-9-24)
- Asus P6T Deluxe (Intel X58)
- OCZ GameXStream (700 watt)
- Seagate 500GB 7200-RPM (Serial ATA300)
- Radeon HD 5870 (1GB) Crossfire
- Radeon HD 5870 (1GB)
- Radeon HD 5850 (1GB)
- Radeon HD 5830 (1GB)
- Radeon HD 5770 (1GB)
- Radeon HD 5750 (1GB)
- Radeon HD 5670 (512MB)
- Radeon HD 5570 (512MB)
- Radeon HD 4890 (1GB)
- Radeon HD 4870 (1GB)
- Radeon HD 4850 (1GB)
- Radeon HD 4830 (512MB)
- Radeon HD 4770 (512MB)
- GeForce GTX 480 (1536MB) SLI
- GeForce GTX 480 (1536MB)
- GeForce GTX 470 (1280MB)
- GeForce GTX 460 (1024MB)
- GeForce GTX 285 (1GB)
- GeForce GTX 275 (896MB)
- GeForce GTX 260 (896MB)
- GeForce 9800 GT (512MB)
- GeForce 9600 GT (512MB)
- GeForce GT 240 (512MB)
Software
- Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit
- Nvidia Forceware 258.96 WHQL
- ATI Catalyst 10.7