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How do I compare computer systems performance?

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August 23, 2011 4:02:29 AM

Where can I find a database of computer system benchmarks?
August 23, 2011 4:07:55 AM

Sorry to post what is surely a common question. But, a search for "benchmarks" turns up almost 10,000 hits, which is useless.

I need to be able to go to a store, such as Best Buy, and choose from among their computers. I can easily see screen size, or hard drive space, but performance is quite another challenge to discover. Perhaps some of you know the zillion variations of CPU and their relative performance, but most must shop blind. The stores NEVER have benchmark data displayed.

Is there such a thing as a computer system benchmark database which includes all the systems at a particular store?
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August 23, 2011 4:17:00 AM

Nope, not a chance.

Systems are compiled from a large list of parts, about 30 main CPU options and about 20 major graphics options for a modern system means somewhere around 600 possible combinations, way too many to benchmark.

The best you can do is take a look for systems in your price range, figure out what you do, if its CPU intensive find benchmarks of the CPUs in those systems compared, if you want to game find some graphics benchmarks so you know what you should be looking for.

You wont find benchmarks for the whole package but you will find it for the parts which can help you narrow down some options.
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August 23, 2011 5:51:38 AM

I can offer advice, but it mainly depends on the usage.

The main bottleneck for a gaming system will be the graphics card. If your spending between $1000 and $1500 on a gaming rig it better have a GTX560Ti or better.

If you aren't buying a gaming rig then pretty much every computer out there is going to have plenty of processing power.

For non-gamers, most of the bottleneck is the hard drive. The internet is too but that's beyond your control usually.

Without knowing your exact usage, let me give you an example of a nice, quiet computer from Dell.
http://www.dell.com/us/en/corp/desktops/inspiron-zino-h...

And if you store videos such as TV shows or movies, the Boxee software is really great. Boxee is putting out a HUGE update to the software soon.
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August 23, 2011 6:37:05 AM

check out the CHARTS section of this website

if all processors in a family dont appear you can extrapolate . ie if they test the 3 GHz processor than the 3.3 GHz of the same architecture will be about 10% faster
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August 23, 2011 1:56:11 PM

hunter315 said:
Systems are compiled from a large list of parts, about 30 main CPU options and about 20 major graphics options for a modern system means somewhere around 600 possible combinations, way too many to benchmark.


Sorry if I was not clear. But, I am definitely wanting information about the system, not individual components. I also want to compare the systems offered by one store. For example, Best Buy may only have 40 systems in their store.

I had asked the question as generically as I could to make it applicable to the average shopper, who is not going to custom configure a system or upgrade the video card. But, in my case it is for an AutoCAD drafting system. So, I figured a standard gaming system would probably be adequate. I prefer a laptop, but haven't ruled out a desktop system now that my smart phone makes accessing e-mail when I travel a viable alternative.

A magazine may review a handful of those particular systems, so going to a magazine and then searching for each model one-by-one to find any of those reviews is not practical. Nor is it particularly helpful, since you will only find a handful of the systems you are trying to compare.

I tried to run the Windows Experience Index on some computers at Walmart. But, they have them locked down, so you can't run anything. At Best Buy, if there is a sales associate to help, you can do it. Perhaps I can go there during a slow time, and recruit a few of their sales staff to help run the index on each of their systems. Then write down the results for them to use in their own sales efforts.

Could some stores not want that information known? In the field of sales, there seems to be a lot of strategy by salesmen to avoid giving information to the customer. But, when it comes down to an individual, such as staff at places like Best Buy, you are dealing with individuals who love computers, and often really want to help the customer.

I know a secondary, but important issue, is if Windows Experience Index is a good benchmark. There are other benchmarks, but they won't be installed on the systems in any store. So, that may be our only choice.

Thank you all for the replies. But, I think the answer is quite clear that want I want doesn't exist. I think that probably elects me to create it... "Joes Hardware"... does that sound like a good web site name do you?
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August 23, 2011 4:12:21 PM

WEI is a crappy benchmark, it isnt very specific for components and doesnt really tell you much to compare between systems with. Any system without an SSD will never break 5.9 on the hard drive score, the score will also change between runs as MS continually adjusts the limits on the scoring.


The average person doesnt compare systems, nor do they have the critical reading skills to decipher benchmarks and what they mean to them. Its also not very useful to review each system since many manufacturers may use identical configurations but since they have slightly different add on features they come up as different model numbers even though the CPU and GPU are the same.

Laptop marketing is full of intentional confusion, and its important to remember that your average computer buyer is a moron, only a small percentage even think to look for benchmarks and the sheer amount of benchmarks necessary for a useful database would probably be somewhere around 1000 different laptops with 3-8 different benchmarks run on them would be an absolutely massive database at which point its too big to be useful in comparing stuff.
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August 25, 2011 6:20:59 AM

I spent quite a while this evening at my local Best Buy, in Lancaster, PA and doing exactly what I described. This involved going to each computer and looking at the Windows Experience Index value. I asked if there was any other benchmark I could user, and the sales lady said that the systems do not allow you to install any other software. They were helpful, and even provided a wheeled office chair for me to scoot around in, since I was using crutches.

I asked if they had a print out of their laptops, but the sales lady only had prints out of few of them. So, I went to each computer and wrote down the model numbers, price and the WEI values.

A few of them did not have the WEI index already run, but those wouldn't run anyway. After excluding the desktops and laptops with Atom processors, I ended up with 42 entries.

Though I was only able to check a few of the desktop systems, I was surprised to see that the laptops were actually better when I looked at comparably priced desktop systems, in terms of the WEI index.

Joe Dunfee
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