Benchmark Summary Analysis
While the synthetics didn’t seem to reflect the real-world performance differences in all cases, 3DMark was pretty close. Sandra and PCMark seemed to favor the sub-$2,000 system’s four cores more than actual applications bore out, making the sub-$2,000 system appear better than it was.
Real-world applications demonstrate that the majority aren’t making use of multiple CPU cores, showing the sub-$1,000 PC to be an excellent deal in this regard. The only true exception seems to be 3D rendering applications like 3ds Max or Cinebench. If you use these software packages, you do yourself a disservice unless you purchase a quad-core CPU. Other than that, the over clocked sub-$4,000 PC is a wonder to behold, displaying a clear and undeniable advantage that it’s high over clock provides.
When we group the game results together we can see some clear trends. As mentioned, Warhammer Mark of Chaos seems to be the only title in our benchmarking suite that doesn’t appreciate multiple CPU cores; all of the other titles show pretty consistent scaling, and we see that in some cases the four-GPUs in the sub-$4,000 system’s 9800 GX2s are really being put to work.
This chart brings it all together and gives us a broad overview of actual performance differences between the three system builder marathon machines. At stock clocks the sub-$2,000 PC has about a 15% lead over the sub-$1,000 PC, and the sub-$4,000 PC has about a 50% lead over the cheapest rig. As you can see, this does not correlate with the cost, leading us to the performance per dollar benchmarks…