Last Updated: July 10, 2021
Planning the best PC build for StarCraft 2: Wings of Liberty? In this guide I break down what to know about choosing optimal parts for top performance in this classic RTS (Real Time Strategy). At one point in time, StarCraft 2 was actually the biggest eSport on the planet, with competitive tournaments paying out millions of dollars in prize money. While not as astronomically popular as it once was, it's still often played to this very day, and given its age still a relatively well-streamed title with Twitch viewcounts often in the many thousands at any given moment in time.
See Also: Building the Best Computer for Dota 2
If you're buying or building a PC and wanting to ensure that your parts will get good performance in StarCraft 2, in this short and sweet guide updated for the modern age I'll point out which specs will get the job done for the least amount of money. As you can probably imagine, since StarCraft 2 is starting to really show its age (at least on paper; it still looks great IMO) the hardware requirements aren't going to be that high. Even if you want to run it at a consistently flawless 60FPS or 144FPS (depending on your monitor). At higher resolutions like 1440p and 4K, you will need to pay at least a little attention to your specs though if you want god-mod performance (but still, it won't be that demanding).
If you're gaming on a 1080p 60Hz display, your target should be a consistent 60FPS if you want the smoothest, hiccup-free experience to enjoy the game to its max (and to play at your best). To achieve this on medium settings (or thereabouts), the cheapest modern-day parts that'll get the job done is the relatively affordable AMD Ryzen 3 3200G, which a CPU that comes with built-in integrated graphics. That means no graphics card purchase is required. Plop in some cheap 8GB of RAM and you're good to go, though keep in mind that while you can get away with 8GB it's better these days to opt for 16GB if you can afford it. Your system will run smoother and last longer without needing to upgrade.
If you want to crank up the visual settings to the max (called "ultra" settings), you'll need to get a graphics card. A RX 550 or GTX 1050 will get the job done. You could still use a 3200G CPU with one of these cards (and just disable the integrated graphics), but a better CPU like a Ryzen 3 3100 or Core i3 10100 would be even better and will smash past that 60FPS at all times with ease. Again, you don't need 16GB of RAM to get 60FPS, but it's ideal when building a new gaming PC these days for general system performance and longevity. But if on a budget, 8GB is fine for StarCraft 2 specifically.
Moving onto 144Hz monitors, and if you want 144FPS in StarCraft 2 you will need a decent CPU, especially if you want to stay above that level of performance consistently at all times throughout the game. As is typical of many RTS games, StarCraft 2 can be quite demanding on the CPU when you're aiming for such high frame rates. If you don't mind medium settings, you won't need too much in the graphics department, but for your processor your best value bet in a modern processor would be an Intel Core i5 11400 or AMD Ryzen 5 3600.
For maxed settings (ultra), you'll need a better graphics card as listed below, but you could keep the same CPU as above and be just fine. However, if you wanted to technically build the best rig for 144Hz, a stronger CPU such as the mighty Ryzen 5 5600X or Intel Core i7 10700K would be the go-to in a perfect world (no matter which settings). Lastly on 144Hz, just remember a high refresh rate monitor like this is far from crucial for a generally slower-paced (compared to FPS/shooters) game like SC2. StarCraft 2 at 60Hz (or 75Hz which are quite common nowadays) really isn't much of a difference compared to 144Hz; this isn't Counter Strike where every little extra frame can help. That said, 144Hz is still objectively better overall, even for the slower genre that is RTS, and there will be some people that can notice the extra smoothness compared to 60Hz.
To avoid repeating myself too much, and more importantly to save you time, after having dug into the details of choosing parts for 1080p 60Hz and 144Hz let's quickly and efficiently go over which parts you will need for 1440p and 4K. The logic behind picking parts for these higher resolutions is simple; the higher the resolution, the better your graphics card will need to be, and the higher the refresh rate (ie 144Hz) the better your CPU will need to be to reach such high frame rates (ie 144FPS). After having analyzed StarCraft 2 benchmark after benchmark around the web, these are my findings and the specific hardware I can recommend based on your exact resolution and refresh rate.
Keep in mind that while higher resolutions demand more from the graphics card, that doesn't mean you should cheap out on the CPU for these types of screens. When building a new PC you want a balanced system, and it wouldn't make too much sense pairing a higher-end GPU with a relatively weaker, lackluster CPU. Especially for a CPU-intensive game like StarCraft 2. However, if you're just aiming for 60FPS, for higher resolutions like 1440p and 4K you don't need a very strong CPU, and a mid-tier CPU will be just fine.
Just wanted to point that out for anyone who may be wondering why the CPU recommendations for 1440p and 4K are either the same or higher than the CPU recommendations for 1080p. While it's true that the lower the resolution, the more your frame rate will lean on and be determined by the CPU (and not the GPU), for a 1440p or 4K build you still want a good CPU to make for a good general PC build overall with both a good CPU and GPU (and not just a good GPU with a poor CPU). Besides, if your aim is to get the highest frame rates at 1440p or 4K, the CPU is still important (despite the GPU being more important).
Related: Building a PC for League of Legends
Hope this guide helped and if you have any feedback (good or bad) then feel free to let me know in the comments. I always appreciate constructive criticism to make these guides as helpful and accurate as possible for gamers. GG.
The top retailers I recommend for tech.
Affiliate Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.
If you click through to a store using our links and buy something, if that store offers an affiliate program, we may earn a small commission on those purchases (at no extra cost to you).
In the increasingly digital age, cybersecurity is crucial, and installing a VPN is one easy way to improve the security and privacy of your PC. NordVPN is the one I use and recommend. For more on VPNs and other good options, see our guide to gaming PC software.
If you find value in the carefully-crafted guides on the site and want to return the favor, consider sharing the article with others if you know anyone who might also find it useful. You can also show your support for the site on our Facebook page by liking/commenting etc. Much appreciated guys : )
All Articles: SiteMap
Indie game dev currently working on my dream game, an atmospheric VR FPS adventure powered by Unreal Engine, who also likes writing about hardware and gaming in general. Favs of all time are OOT, Perfect Dark, MGS1, MGS2, GE007, DKC2, THPS3, WC3, HL1, HL2, with the most recent addition to my list of immortals being the VR masterpiece that is Half Life Alyx. To keep in touch check back to the blog for my latest articles or see BGC on FB, and for anyone also into the VR FPS scene I'll be sharing the first screenshots of my upcoming VR game on Twitter soon. - Julz