It’s now day 4 of our 5 day 1st Biennial Summer Eternal Battle. You’ve seen us build the ultimate workstation and desktop and then step back and see how it is possible to continue to produce high-performance systems without spending quite as much money. Today, we bring everything together and run our systems through our test suite.
But we needed another gimmick, so we’re bringing in the Athlon 64 X2 4200+. This CPU features two 2.2GHz cores with 512KB L2 cache each. Pricing is essentially dirt cheap, at $585, as it equivalent to a pair of Athlon 3500+ Venice’s. The question is if it’s the best of both worlds? Going with a cheaper CPU meant that we could go with a faster GPU – so what if we put a single NVIDIA GeForce 7800 GTX into the mix?
In designing my benchmark suite, I wanted to select applications that reflected real-world uses. Likewise, instead of trying to take a brute-force approach to benchmarking, I’ve carefully selected a set of benchmarks to maximize the value of the information while keeping the testing simple and easy to follow.
Every benchmark was run on NVIDIA’s High-Quality texture mode (rather than Quality). This produces lower scores that you may be used to seeing, so remember that you do not want to simply compare these numbers against those you’ve found in other reviews. We also ran every application at 1280x1024 (when possible) to reflect the native resolution of today’s 17 and 19” LCD monitors. These are higher quality settings than default settings, but in the end, that’s the whole point of building a high-end system, right?
First though, let’s talk about principles of benchmarking.
In our last episode…
My last article, the Dual Core AMD Opteron performance analysis, caused some commotion when it came to benchmark selection. There were those arguing about transparency of tests such as the Matlab N72, the relevancy of SiSoft Sandra, so, I thought I’d take the time to explain the art of benchmarking and explain the importance of choosing your review website carefully. This part of my article contains elements of my 3DMark 05 article published in the November 2004 issue of PC Enthusiast Magazine.
Let's start with a fundamental question: What is the purpose of a benchmark?