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System Builder Marathon, March 2011: Value Compared

Benchmark Results: Productivity

The $1000 machine offers surprisingly good Photoshop performance at its stock frequency , but gains little from overclocking. The $500 machine just suffers in general as the AMD Phenom II can't get as much done per clock cycle as Intel's Sandy Bridge architecture. And that's despite the fact we're talking about quad-core CPUs.

Using similar processors based on the same core, the $1000 and $2000 machines scale appropriately with clock rate in 3ds Max 2010. The $500 machine’s older CPU architecture continues holding it back, even when overclocked.

In WinRAR, a 4.4 GHz CPU clock is barely enough to help the $1000 machine catch up to the $2000 machine’s 3.4 GHz baseline. That poor O/C scaling could be due to its slower RAM or, most likely, its lower-performance drives.

7-Zip compression times are a good reflection of CPU performance, where the $500 machine’s older architecture continues holding it back.

Thomas Soderstrom
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.