Benchmark Results: General Performance And Content Creation
On the lower-cost end of the CPU hierarchy, AMD puts up a good fight in measures of compression performance. The S5704y's Athlon II X2 250 and the EL1850-01e's Athlon X2 255 both slightly outpace the Pentium E5800 in Dell's Inspiron i560.
At the bottom of the performance spectrum, we see Compaq's 2.0 GHz Athlon II 170 having a hard time keeping pace with the 2.2 GHz Celeron 250 in eMachines' EL1352-23e.
|Number of Files on C:|
|Compaq CQ5700Q||264 734|
|Dell i560-565NBK||183 334|
|eMachines EL1350-01e||166 089|
|eMachines EL1850-23e||166 529|
|HP s5704y||313 075|
All five systems ship with an OEM version of Windows 7, but the number of files on each hard drive varies due to bloatware. That's why the anti-virus experience is so different when you build your own computer. Pre-built systems usually come with lots of extra (often unwanted) software, requiring that you scan more files. This tends to translate into faster disk fragmentation. This helps explain why virus scanning is still a pain point for so many people, despite the fact that most enthusiasts with relatively clean disks don't see the same issues on their own boxes.
Besides contributing more files to the scan job, unwelcome apps on a hard drive also tend to result in more demanding anti-virus workloads. Among systems that offer similar CPU performance, scan times can be entirely different. Even though the Dell Inspiron i560 has more files to scan, it completes the task faster because more of its files are uncompressed, rather than packed archives.
If you frequently use Photoshop, the experience clearly varies from system. Obviously, though, Dell clearly leads the pack.
More so than a processor dependency, this seems to be the result of better hard drive performance. Editing a 16 MB TIFF image requires several read/write operations to the scratch disk. Insufficient storage performance crashes our scripted benchmark on eMachines' EL1850-01e and HP's s5704y. This is a warning for those who want to short-change hard drive performance for a more CPU horsepower.
The lower-end Celeron 450 and Athlon II 170 are both able to finish this benchmark, despite each having less raw compute muscle than the Athlon II X2s used in the EL1850-01e and s5704y because both systems use better-performing hard drives.
For the most part, content creation splits the systems into two distinct groups. At the higher-end, the i560, EL1850-23e, and s5704y all benefit from better CPU performance, but this only applies to encoding video.
In Blender and HandBrake, the lower-end EL1350-01e (Celeron 450) and the EL1350-01e (Athlon II 170) take 300% longer than the three other systems. When it comes to audio encoding, there is more of a linear progression from system to system.