The next generation (5G) cellular network faces the challenges of efficiency, flexibility, and sustainability to support data traffic in the mobile Internet era. To tackle these challenges, cloud-based cellular architectures have been proposed where virtual base stations (VBSs) play a key role. VBSs bring further energy savings but also demands a new energy consumption model as well as the optimization of computational resources. This paper studies the energy-delay tradeoffs of VBSs with delay tolerant traffic. We propose a computational-resource-aware energy consumption model to capture the total energy consumption of a VBS and reflect the dynamic allocation of computational resources including the number of CPU cores and the CPU speed. Based on the model, we analyze the energy-delay tradeoffs of a VBS considering BS sleeping and state switching cost to minimize the energy consumption. We derive the explicit form of the optimal data transmission rate and find the condition under which the energy optimal rate exists and is unique. Opportunities to reduce the average delay and achieve energy savings simultaneously are observed. We further propose an efficient algorithm to jointly optimize the data rate and the number of CPU cores. Numerical results validate our theoretical analyses and under a typical simulation setting we find more than 60% energy savings can be achieved by VBSs compared with conventional base stations under the EARTH model, which demonstrates the great potential of VBSs in 5G cellular systems.