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System Builder Marathon, March 2011: Value Compared

Performance Scaling And Efficiency

The four real-world performance simulations from our hard drive charts were used to gauge storage performance. All other tests are an average of their respective suites.

Putting aside the astronomical performance differences between SSDs in RAID 0 and a single mechanical HDD, the $2000 PC has barely more than twice the performance of the $500 PC. That puts both it and the $1000 machine in jeopardy of a huge loss in terms of value.

Because most people spend only a small part of their time waiting for files to load, HDD performance represents only 10% of the total performance we used to determine efficiency. The combined performance value is still easy to calculate, since the other 90% is divided across three other suites (gaming, encoding and productivity) at 30% each. The formula would be written (3g + 3e + 3p + s) / 10, where g, e, p, and s represent the gaming, encoding, productivity, and storage averages shown in the chart above.

Even when it only represents 10% of overall performance, drive performance pushes the $2000 PC to 2.7 times the $500 PC's baseline and 3.4 times that same figure when overclocked. Even a pair of graphics cards couldn’t prevent a PC with that much performance advantage from conquering the efficiency chart.

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