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Test System And Benchmarks

Do Virus Scanners Slow Down Your System?

We begin by selecting the security software to test. We're curious to find out if Internet security suites might contain bloatware that could slow down a system more than a simple anti-virus program would, so we've included not only virus scanners, but also complete Internet security suites offered by noteworthy developers. This means we’re testing AVG Anti-Virus, AVG Internet Security, Kaspersky Anti-Virus, Kaspersky Internet Security, McAfee VirusScan Plus, McAfee Internet Security, Norton AntiVirus, Norton Internet Security, Trend Micro Titanium AntiVirus+, and Trend Micro Titanium Internet Security. [edit: we originally listed some obsolete versions of the AV software. The programs we actually tested were the newest available versions as of October, 2010]

Where benchmarks are concerned, we’ve assembled a suite of tests to exercise most aspects of PC performance, from gaming to office work. We’re testing raw application performance and also the time it takes for the system to respond to boot and to program launch requests. In order to do this, we’ve even developed some custom benchmarks, courtesy of our own Andrew Ku.

While we're running the benchmarks on an Athlon II X4 645, we'll be disabling two of the CPU cores for the majority of benchmarks. As a result, most of the benchmarks reflect the performance users can expect from a budget dual-core CPU. On page seven we run more benchmarks with only a single CPU core enabled, and also with all four CPU cores enabled, to see if the performance burden changes based on the number of execution cores available to the system.

With all this in mind, here are the particulars for our test system and benchmarks:

  Test System
MotherboardAsus M4A785TD-V EVO
Socket AM3, AMD 785G, BIOS 0410
ProcessorAthlon II X4 645
3.1 GHz, Quad-Core CPU
Multiplier set to 3.0 GHz
Single- and quad-cores enabled for CPU core comparison on page 7
CPU Cooler
Cooler Master Hyper TX3
MemoryCrucial DDR3-1333
Dual-Channel 2 x 2048 MB, 669 MHz,
CAS 9-9-9-24-1T
GraphicsRadeon HD 5830 Reference
1 GB GDDR5, 800 MHz GPU, 1000 MHz Memory
Hard DriveWestern Digital Caviar Black 1000 GB
7200 RPM, 32 MB Cache SATA 3Gb/s
Software and Drivers
Operating System
Microsoft Windows 7 x64
DirectX Version
DirectX 11
Graphics DriversAMD Catalyst 10.9

And here's a list of the benchmarks:

Benchmark Configuration
3D Games
CrysisPatch 1.2.1, DirectX 10, 64-bit executable, benchmark tool
High Quality, No AA
Audio/Video Encoding
TMPGEnc 4.0 ExpressVersion:
Import File: "Terminator 2" SE DVD (5 Minutes)
Resolution: 720x576 (PAL) 16:9
Xvid 1.2.2Display encoding status = off
WinRAR 3.90Version x64 3.90, Dictionary = 4096 KB, Benchmark: THG-Workload (334 MB)
Synthetic Benchmarks
PCMark VantageVersion: x64, All Benchmarks
SiSoftware Sandra 2010Version 2010.1.16.11, CPU Test = CPU Arithmetic
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