Benchmark Results: Audio And Video Encoding
Poorly-threaded applications like Apple's iTunes generally respond to CPU frequency more than anything else.
Credit goes to the enormous Prolimatech Megahalems CPU cooler for allowing the overclocked $2000 machine beat its less expensive rivals.
HandBrake stands in stark contrast to iTunes, pushing every available core to 100% of available resources. The $2000 PC picks up it biggest win here, while the $500 triple-core configuration appears to beat the $1000 machine’s four logical (two physical) cores, clock-for-clock.
TMPGEnc falls between iTunes and HandBrake, getting little benefit from added cores and greater benefit from increased CPU frequency.
Professional applications generally use CPU resources most effectively, and MainConcepts benchmark results are a perfect reflection to those of HandBrake. The overclocked $1000 PC barely edges past the overclocked $500 system, while the $2000 machine’s four cores allow much larger performance gains.
That said, SSD is a great addition as well as some of the other difficult to measure in value parts.
These builds are targeted at a fixed budget, and (at the moment, with these budgets) money should never be spent on an SSD at the expense of more cpu or graphics power.
Dropping SSDs would also stop convoluting the "value" comparison.
The fact that problems were encountered during the builds, such as the issue with memory, and the issue with the bios; these are important practical lessons that make the articles well worth the time to read.
Overall, I can't imagine a better choice of builds, nor a better outcome, given Sandy Bridge on the horizon.
In any case, the $500 build rocks my boat. I just feel it isn't right to saddle the $1000 build with a dual core, hyper-threaded or not. An AMD triple/quad core with bad-@ss cooling (at the same price) might have been better.