System Builder Marathon: $1,250 Mid-Range PC

Benchmark Results: Synthetic Benchmarks

Note that this time we're comparing three systems and each system is compared at both stock clock speeds and when overclocked. The blue bars represent the Q9550-based system, the green bars represent the Core i7 920 system, and the red bars represent the E8500 system. The darker bars are the overclocked results.

Let's start with 3DMark Vantage:

First of all, we must remember that the Core i7 system is the only PC with a Radeon HD 4850 X2 instead of the superior 4870 X2 found in the E8500 and Q9550 systems. This explains the notable deficit the i7-based system is showing. There is a large difference between the Q9550 and E8500 systems, with 3DMark heavily favoring the quad-core CPU. I'm not entirely confident that this will be the case with most games, as many titles are more GPU-dependent than they are CPU-dependent.

Now let's move on to Futuremark's productivity-oriented benchmark, PCMark Vantage:

PCMark Vantage suggests that the quad-core options will significantly beat out dual-core CPUs in most tasks, regardless of clock speeds. It also indicates that the new Core i7 will have an advantage over the Q9550 despite its smaller cache.

Let's see what SiSoft Sandra XII has to say:

Sandra disagrees with PC Mark, indicating a massive advantage with the new Core i7 compared to the Q9550, although it favors the Q9550 over the E8500 by a notable margin as well. As for memory bandwidth, the Q9550 performs closely to the E8500, while both of them get trounced by the new on-CPU memory controller in the Core i7.

All of the synthetics seem to favor quad-core over clock speed, but we know this isn't always the case in actual applications. Let's see what kind of media-encoding capabilities these platforms have.