We expected the higher-clocked, higher-priced, more elaborate Dell XPS 720 H2C Edition system to win the majority of benchmarks, but it also cost 72% more than the Gateway FX530XT we tested. We don't remember the higher-cost Dell taking many wins by so large a margin, so let's do a brief performance recap.
A 72% price increase for the Dell XPS 720 H2C returned an average 50% performance gain in only one of the three games we tested. Averaging the performance difference of all three games narrowed Dell's lead to 38%
Non-graphics applications do not gain from SLI mode, so Dell's lead was dependant mostly on its CPU clock speed advantage. A 21% performance lead in OGG is an impressive result given the clock speed difference of 17% between the two systems, but averaging the three applications narrowed Dell's overall lead to 16%.
3D Mark 2005 shows the most significant performance differences of the synthetic benchmarks, but SYSmark gives the moderately-priced Gateway FX530XT a slight lead. We simply didn't find any 72% average performance gains, regardless of the test suite.
So the Dell 720 H2C Edition costs 72% more than the Gateway FX530XT but delivered far smaller performance gains. What would it look like if we averaged all the differences?
A 72% increase in cost gives Dell a 26% average performance lead. That's nearly three times the cost per performance increase!
The Gateway FX530XT is far from cheap, but its price is middle-of-the-road for its market. That market includes such necessities as a 24" widescreen display, which was included with both systems.
Our only regret was that software configurations for the previous Gateway FX530XT and the new version prevented us from making a direct comparison. We certainly wanted to know how much better a single 8800GTX performed than a CrossFire pair of X1950's, but it simply wasn't in the cards (so to speak!).
Some buyers in the high-end market might believe that a 72% price increase for the Dell system we compared is a small price to pay for a 26% performance gain, given the increased productivity such performance can bring. But for those whose incomes seem a little more limited, the FX530XT delivers all the performance they'll likely need for at least a year, at a much more reasonable cost.
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