Recently, i had the pleasure of being teased into playing starcraft 2 by a good friend; he came home with an Alienware rig and i was convinced enough to give the game a go on my older and less powerful pc. The game launched without any fancy effects, playable (i'm waiting to see how much large battles will drive the machine in the ground) but definitely less gorgeous than what i saw on the Alienware: no flowing creep, now glowing crystals, etc.

Now I've heard at some times that some FPS players would use barebones display settings to some degree in order to play better

  • Dialing down the visual clutter may help you discern what is going on, instead of blowing your eyes with particle effects
  • It makes the game feel more fluid
  • It allows for some interesting hacks (i remember some people configuring the skin of other players to a glowing skeleton in order to see them better in some environments)

So do some players play SC2 with minimal graphics settings? Is it something that is trendy in some communities (pro players) ? Is the game clearer at barebone settings (no gibbing, physics and particles)?


3 Answers 3


Some people play on low graphics because they think that it can make cloaked/burrowed units easier to see. I am not sure if this is true, but some people certainly believe it. Check out this answer:

Do the video settings affect the visibility of cloaked units?

If you are watching someone's personal stream (and not MLG/DH/GSL), they may be playing on low graphics to help with their FPS for their stream.

Above all I think that it is just personal preference.

Quote from ROOTheognis (source):

its all preference but I feel like using low graphic settings with High Model settings is the best for me. The high model setting shows death animations so If you lose units they don't just disappear and wont leave u clueless on where they went

Here are some pros that play on low, from 2011 (source):


Textures - Low

Graphics - Low


Textures - Ultra

Graphics - Low


Textures - Low

Graphics - Low


Textures - High

Graphics - Custom ( Everything Low but Effects on Ultra )


Textures - Low

Graphics - Low

  • 1
    "Pro's play on a 2x2 resolution. Some say that is "crazy" or "that is just 4 colored boxes wtf".....clearly they have not played at the pro level" Jul 12, 2013 at 21:18
  • I actually find it easier to see burrowed and cloaked units on higher settings interestingly.
    – JPtheK9
    Jul 16, 2015 at 6:19

Some StarCraft players do play on minimal settings. The reason however is not removing visual clutter, as even on max settings there is very little. The reason is to drive up the framerate, because they fear the game might start to lag in battles where many units are involved. Considering these battles are one of the most important parts of the game, they want to be absolutely sure there will be no lag, so there are players with über-PCs who play on minimal.


As there seems to be doubt in the comments about the possibility of lag on an über-PC, here are some calculations which maybe make it more plausible:

A progamer will have over 200 actions per minute (APM), often they will exceed 300 APM. That is 4-5 Actions per second. Assuming a standart framerate of 60 fps, that means one action every 12-15 frames. Furthermore, the APM will often skyrocket during battles, as they are very micro-intensive.

Perhaps now you can imagine that even the slightest lag will interfere with precise and fast unit control, which is vital during battles. If you play for money, you will want to erase the slightest possibility of losing a decisive battle due to lag.

  • 3
    I don't understand why would the game 'lag' with an "uber-PC" ? I have a cheap graphics card and I only get down to 1-2 FPS only in 4v4 games when 8 200-populated armies clash with full graphics. Fearing lag with an uber-PC is not a convincing answer for me.
    – Varaquilex
    Jul 12, 2013 at 14:00
  • 1
    This partial answer is actually very legitimate (there are many reasons for low settings). If you look on the arcade right now there is a unit preloader that will launch every possible game effect so that it is loaded into memory. At the pro level any lag at all can cost you your army and the game. You might be okay with 1-2 FPS when the armies clash in that scenario, but the slightest delay in actions will hurt. The best finely tuned bicycle can still slip a gear at a critical time.
    – Sorean
    Jul 12, 2013 at 15:21
  • 2
    @Volkanİlbeyli Fearing lag with an uber-PC might not be a convincing answer to you, but all that proves is that you don't take this particular game as seriously as some others do. No insult there. You need to be able to step out of your mind, and into the head of the kinds of players who would agonize over building the perfect machine for this one game, regardless of the expense, and THEN kill all the visual appealing aspects of the game just to eek out tiny spurts of performance. Since some people do actually do this, the mindset does exist.
    – Bon Gart
    Jul 12, 2013 at 15:57
  • Seems reasonable - professional gamers are subject to the same superstitions that all other gamers are. Similarly, many professional FPS players play with vsync off (or the settings turned down), because they (incorrectly) believe it will allow them to see the enemies turn the corner sooner. Jul 12, 2013 at 16:26
  • 1
    Pixel shaders will need to render each frame multiple passes for some effects. No matter how high end your PC, you'll have better responsiveness with low graphics settings.
    – tenfour
    Jul 15, 2013 at 8:54

Many pro players play with low graphical settings for a few reasons.

Like some of you other guys wrote, its due to performance issues in the later state of the game. Many units, buildings and actions (APM), will increase the possibility of lag spikes during a battle.

Another reason is that your internet connection might suffer from higher graphical settings. So when they stream via Twitch, the possibility of lag increases unless they lower their graphic settings. You would believe that most have a powerful connection, but if your in a house on the same line with 5 other guys streaming, it is better to lower the graphics to avoid lag issues.

With that said, some people might just like, the low res. game style.

I stream on Twitch myself, and always lower my graphical settings while streaming. It demands a lot to stream, and lag issues increase if I dont.

Sorry for the un-sourced statements. But its from firsthand experience and from a few friends that stream as well.

EDIT: A lot of player including myself, use the arcade map called "Unit preloader" now, which loads all animations in the game making rendering more smooth.


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