Take some of the guesswork out of selecting your next computer

by | Feb 27, 2009 | Practical Tips

When comparing the specifications of computers these days, I get so confused over what the different CPUs offer. It was SO much easier in the early 90’s when you had to compare a 386 to a 486. Now, You have Intel and AMD CPUs to compare along with a string of numbers and letters which really don’t tell you how one computer (CPU) stacks up to another.

Passmark and their website cpubenchmark.net have presented benchmarking information about processors to take some of the mystery out of comparing systems.

You should take this information with a grain of salt, since their benchmarks may not be apples-to-apples comparisons (different systems are running different software which may effect performance data). However, it will give you a basis for comparison when shopping around. For example:

Dell recently started offering a line of PowerEdge servers with AMD CPUs (the PowerEdge 2970) to their server lineup. I set out to compare the PE 2950III with the PE2970 with similar configurations and came up with the following:

Both systems have: Dual CPUs, 4GB of RAM, PERC Raid Controller, 3x 73gb SAS 15K RPM Hard Drives, Dell RAC, single power supply, No operating system, 3 year 4hr 24×7 Support

The Dell PowerEdge 2950 III priced with [Dual] Quad Core Intel Xeon E5410 2.33GHz CPUs is $3,745. According to cpubenchmark.net, this configuration scored a 7285 CPU mark.

The Dell PowerEdge 2970 priced with [Dual] Quad Core AMD Opteron 2347HE 1.9GHz CPUs is $3,874 According to cpubenchmark.net, this configuration scored a 4465 CPU mark.

If you believe these scores, the 2950 is not only the better value, but also outperforms the AMD system by a mile.

As I said, you should take these results with a grain of salt. If you hover over the results graph, it will tell you how many “samples” this configuration has received. The Opteron CPU had only 1 sample whereas the Intel had 9.

This means that the score for the Intel configuration was averaged over 9 samples (tests) whereas the Opteron had only one sample. Further illustrating the point, my desktop computer has an Intel Core 2 Duo E8500 CPU which had 84 samples and scored a 2259 on the CPU Benchmark site. However, when I downloaded and ran the test on my computer, my CPU scored a 2878.

So while the data provided on the site is useful for a quick comparison, individual results WILL vary.

Hopefully, this will help take some of the guesswork out of your next computer purchase.