3DMark scores are based on GPU power and features, but haven’t reflected gaming performance for a while. Nvidia’s high theoretical performance and support for PhysX typically trumps the real-world performance of AMD’s solutions in these tests, and we expect big scores from our 3-way SLI-equipped rig.
3DMark didn’t let us down in expectations, putting the triple GTX 260 Core 216 graphics processors of our $2,500 PC far ahead of the dual HD 4850 graphics cores of the $1,250 build. Because synthetic benchmark scores don’t represent the performance of any actual programs, we no longer use synthetics in our final assessment.
PCMark shows its preference for the single drive of our $1,250 PC over the software RAID 5 of the $2,500 version and for good reason–software RAID 5, while practical for preserving data and daily use, is not an optimal-performance solution.
Both the $1,250 and $2,500 machines used the same Core i7 920 processor, and Sandra’s CPU tests reflect nothing more than the clock speed difference. The EVGA motherboard of our $2,500 PC underclocks the CPU slightly at default settings, while the same system’s larger cooler allows for a higher overclock.
Core i7 on-die memory control provides huge gains in Sandra Bandwidth, while the $2,500 system’s fast DDR3-1333 memory outshines the DDR3-1066 of our $1,250 PC.