In both the Wings of Liberty and Heart of the Swarm campaigns there are research options for automated refineries/extractors, which allow vespene gas to be harvested without a worker. This has obvious benefits, such as freeing more supply for combat units and allowing long-distance vespene gas harvesting, but I'm curious how fast the gas actually collects.

Assuming the command center/hatchery is as close as possible to the vespene geyser, will three workers harvest gas quicker than, slower than, or just as quickly as the automated building?

  • Very good question. Hard to test too, will try to benchmark! :)
    – Nick122
    Mar 21, 2013 at 19:38

2 Answers 2


Automated extractors harvest at the same rate as extractors that have 3 drones.

I tested this on the Hand of Darkness mission. I choose this mission because it ends at 5:12 if you don't kill the first hybrid and you start with drones and one extractor.

I was able to harvest a total of 696 gas by 5:12 with and without the Automated Extractors ability. Turning on Vaspene Efficiency allowed me to gather a total of 845 gas with and without Automated Extractors by 5:12.


| Total Gas Harvested     | Vespene Efficiency | No Vespene Efficiency |
| Automated Extractors    | 845                | 696                   |
| No Automated Extractors | 845                | 696                   |

Note: The mission starts you off with 100 free gas, so the net gain is 100 gas less than the totals I posted above.

  • I like seeing reproducible results! :)
    – CTristan
    Mar 22, 2013 at 4:32

There is no evidence pointing towards faster extraction from either the Refinery or the Extractor. It is not a "gas-equivalent" to a Terran Mule.

The point of this upgrade: (which you point out yourself)

  • To spare the 6 or more food supplies to help you get a larger army. (or to have SCVs or Drones mine instead - increasing the amount of minerals in the early game)

  • To take gas with no Command center or Hatchery nearby.

  • I think he understands the point of the Automated Refinery/Extractor, he just wants to know whether 3 workers harvest vespene faster, slower or at the same rate as the Automated refinery by itself
    – Robotnik
    Mar 21, 2013 at 11:09
  • As stated: "There is no evidence pointing towards faster extraction from either the Refinery or the Extractor. It is not a "gas-equivalent" to a Terran Mule."
    – AtlasEU
    Mar 21, 2013 at 12:13
  • 3
    Being a gas equivalent to a Terran Mule would entail allowing faster gas harvesting. The question was whether it was faster, slower, or the same speed. You've only eliminated 1 of 3 possible scenarios. Mar 21, 2013 at 16:28
  • 1
    @AtlasEU Source?
    – user41604
    Mar 21, 2013 at 16:54
  • 9
    It sounds like you're just guessing. Why not just not answer and let someone answer that knows?
    – tenfour
    Mar 21, 2013 at 18:08

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