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System Builder Marathon, March 2011: Value Compared

Benchmark Results: 3DMark And PCMark

The benefit of CrossFire allows our highest-end build to start off with a bang in 3DMark 11. And yet, the same $2000 PC that holds a pair of cards also has a higher CPU overclock than its single-card $1000 competitor. The $550 PC also performs surprisingly well in this purely synthetic test that requires DirectX 11 to run.

PCMark heavily favors drive performance, giving the SSD-equipped $2000 build a huge advantage over the HDD-limited machines. Though the scoring system is a black box, its drive tests are based on real-world transfer patterns measured in megabytes per second.

We picked our favorite four of PCMark’s eight hard drive tests to illustrate the expected real-world performance differences of the drive configurations of all three machines. PCMark’s “MB/s” rating includes drive latency, since megabytes are a fixed value and total seconds for all transfers are variable.

Because drive latency (including seek times) is included, streaming media is the only test that even approaches the limits of drive throughput. A large number of small files drop the HDD-equipped systems into single digits for the Application Loading benchmark.

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