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Benchmark Software For Windows 7 Rollout?

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the bean-counter-for-the-bean-counters dept.

Businesses 215

tdisalvo writes "We are doing a Windows 7 rollout and I will have to compare major PC vendors. I am looking for vendor-neutral tests that will give me the data I need to present an educated opinion to my CIO. Clear, pretty charts are nice since it is for C level execs, and we need to make it understandable for nontechnical as well as technical people. More specifically, I am looking for something that will clearly show how the same processor performs (better or worse) with a particular build, motherboard, RAM, power supply, etc. My plan is to get very similar machines from major vendors and see which one's build has the highest independent benchmarks. Something with which I could test multiple computers and report on the differences in score would be ideal." As usual, free is an advantage.

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Multiple software produces the best result (2, Informative)

madwheel (1617723) | more than 4 years ago | (#32286740)

The only thing I can say is a lot of benchmarking software that offers charts and nice graphs tend to be skewed. Not all of them however. A lot of hardware companies design the parts to get somewhat abnormally high results on benchmarks, thus inflating the numbers, and providing inaccurate results. Your best bet is unfortunately more time consuming. You should have multiple software testing the machine, and then make your own chart. This is much more accurate. Try rendering a 1080p video file and record the amount of time it takes. Things like that.

Re:Multiple software produces the best result (1)

Aoet_325 (1396661) | more than 4 years ago | (#32286960)

I'd have to agree - don't bother looking for something with nice charts - most charts won't matter much to non-techs anyway. Just take the results from the best tools for the job and use those numbers to create charts, graphs, etc that will work best for your audience.

Re:Multiple software produces the best result (0, Troll)

recoiledsnake (879048) | more than 4 years ago | (#32288382)

So you mean you first need to benchmark the benchmarking software with software that benchmarks benchmarking software? And so on?

Re:Multiple software produces the best result (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32287574)

What a waste of time and effort. Firstly some machines will perform better on some benchmarks than others. Secondly there are costs, availability, configuration, reliability and many other factors to evaluate. Its hard to believe you are going to look at a few percent performance differences (if that much). After all, PCs are practically the definition of a commodity market. You might be better off picking the machines with the best paint jobs. You ought to get a job at the Pentagon where they specialize in meaningless power point slides.

Re:Multiple software produces the best result (4, Insightful)

jayhawk88 (160512) | more than 4 years ago | (#32288230)

Yeah I have to agree with this, came here to say the same thing. Benchmarks have their uses, but chances are the real world difference between similarly-built machines is not going to be significant. Let's be honest here: Unless you're doing a roll-out to a bunch of coders or CIA Photoshop experts, chances are most of these PC's are going to be running a web browser, a groupware client, and a document/spreadsheet editor like 75% of the time.

Choosing a PC vendor based on price, reliability, and service is going to be far more useful and have a far greater RIO than picking the one that scored 5 points higher on 3DMark or whatever. There have to be much better uses of your time.

Re:Multiple software produces the best result (1)

LO0G (606364) | more than 4 years ago | (#32288622)

Ummm... I agree with your general point, but the time spent rendering a 1080p video file isn't likely to be an interesting data point. A 30 second clip should probably render in exactly 30 seconds, regardless of machine horsepower. I could see measuring system resources while rendering the 1080p video clip however.

When my company last went through a round of desktop upgrades (6 months or so ago), they got a half a dozen evaluation units from the various hardware vendors and then had a bunch of hardware geeks configure and use them for real-world tasks. So they used them to build some of our biggest projects, enlisted in our source control system, etc. IMHO, real-world use trumps benchmarks almost all the time (it's also notoriously hard to get benchmarks that are reliable).

Phoronix Test Suite (2, Informative)

grommit (97148) | more than 4 years ago | (#32286746)

It doesn't run on Windows but Phoronix Test Suite [] would give you a good baseline for the hardware.

Re:Phoronix Test Suite (4, Informative)

Amouth (879122) | more than 4 years ago | (#32286800)

"Runs On Linux, OpenSolaris, Mac OS X, Windows 7, & BSD Operating Systems"

according to the link you posted

Re:Phoronix Test Suite (1)

grommit (97148) | more than 4 years ago | (#32288360)

I thought I should double check before actually making that comment but decided against it. Of course I turned out to be wrong. Figures as much.

Re:Phoronix Test Suite (1)

rwa2 (4391) | more than 4 years ago | (#32288092)

PTS is also available as a Linux LiveCD, so you can do a rough cut of preliminary testing without even having to spend an hour installing/updating Windows to the same image!

Might be possible to set up similar for Windows using BartPE, but the driver situation usually sucks.

My question is... (4, Insightful)

Knara (9377) | more than 4 years ago | (#32286750)

Is this really necessary for a Windows 7 rollout with corporate desktops? Most machines are already overpowered for the average user using Office and what not.

I'd think the cost per machine for good 3-4 year warranties would be more important. At least, it has been in my experience.

I could see doing something like this just for developer machines, but general roll-out? I dunno. Seems like you'd just compare pricing and go with the one that makes the most budget sense.

Re:My question is... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32286802)

Exactly, those benchmarks will mean diddly squat as users load their crap-ware.
I totally get this for server infrastructure, but desktop benchmarks? parent poster is right: warranty duration, coverate, and MTBF are more important.

Re:My question is... (4, Insightful) (1195047) | more than 4 years ago | (#32286812)

I almost completely agree, with a couple of additions. When comparing pricing, it's important to consider what kind warranties and/or service and support arrangements are included with each build, especially if you're pricing out a large deployment. Looking for independent reliability reports isn't a bad idea, either.

Single system is easier to manage (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 4 years ago | (#32286820)

While Windows domains and management tools work fine with mixed versions, it is still the very easiest if you have all one version. Well, new systems are going to come with 7, so makes sense to go all 7 if you want to do single system.

Also it is time to start looking at an XP retirement plan for enterprises. Extended support will terminate August of 2014. So, while it isn't a crunch, it is the kind of thing to start thinking about. Better to have a plan than to wait 4 years and find out that now you have to move fast before security patches stop.

Re:Single system is easier to manage (1)

Knara (9377) | more than 4 years ago | (#32287372)

That's what I was saying. I wasn't saying that he should have 17 different models, but rather that benchmarking just to end up with (corporate desktop) and (developer desktop) in the end was a waste of time.

Though in reality, most shops end up with a variety of different desktops in the end, even if they're all "Optiplex" line or what not. I don't think I've ever been in a large company where all the users had the exact same model desktop.

Re:Single system is easier to manage (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32287730)

We do a good job of sticking to just a few models. We try to buy in bulk when we can but even our one off purchases are of the same type.

We currently have 3 models under warranty and 2 that are out of warranty. Standardizing hardware has saved us a lot of work. We only have to inject a few drivers into our images. Fixing hardware issues is quick when you can just pop the hard drive into a spare model and let the user get back to work. We have hot spares on the shelf ready to go for other issues.

If you were to look for anything, look for a computer that is stable running Windows 7 without having to load drivers that are not included in the OS. If you plan on sticking to a set model make sure you buy from the business models and not the consumer models. The business models (of our vendor) tend not change the hardware in them where as the consumer models may keep the same specs but the components may change and use less stable drivers.

Re:My question is... (3, Informative)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#32286866)

Yeah. You won't need more than 1Gig of RAM, and the slowest processor processor you can get with a Windows 7 bundle should be plenty enough for IE, Office, and Adobe Reader, which is pretty much the basics across the board in the Corporate world.

Unless you are using some software that demands more specs, than the benchmarks shouldn't be the primary concern, it should be the price.

Not to slashvertise, but we use the Optiplexes from Dell, and besides the cheap price for decent specs, the best part about them is screw-less maintenance. You will never need a Screwdriver to replace any component on a Dell desktop. I never realized how great it was until my parents wanted me to add RAM to their 5 year old Compaq's and HP's. I'm not sure if other vendors have started doing this yet, I hope so.

Re:My question is... (3, Informative)

Glonoinha (587375) | more than 4 years ago | (#32287046)

Windows 7 and your average suite of corporate crapware (anti-virus, monitoring tools, Outlook and Word, etc) will burn through 1G of memory just getting started.
If you are paying the piper to upgrade desktops and roll out a new OS, might as well kick in the extra $75 and get 3Gig of RAM.

That said, if OP is intent on comparing the performance of desktops I say forget comparing across vendors (HP, Dell, IBM) and compare configurations instead (same box with 1G vs 3G of RAM, 5400rpm drives vs 7200rpm drives vs SSDs, video cards, etc.) Then forget the benchmarks and just compare long term support contracts with the vendors, and load them up with 3Gigs of memory.

Personally I'm a fan of Dell, but that's only because I know how to navigate their support site to get the drivers I need.

Re:My question is... (1)

Real1tyCzech (997498) | more than 4 years ago | (#32287570)

"Windows 7 and your average suite of corporate crapware (anti-virus, monitoring tools, Outlook and Word, etc) will burn through 1G of memory just getting started."

Odd. My 1GB Acer Laptop handles all of that just fine...I can only imagine a desktop would handle it even better, as their drives, CPU's and RAM tend to be faster.

Re:My question is... (0, Troll)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#32287228)

I take it you ahve no real experiecne at this? that is they only thing I could think of as to way your post is so damn stupid.

Do you think they just put Win 7 on it, and that's it?

You got Win 7
then Office suite running.
Than a browser
then an older browser to support some legacy application
then you have the multiple versions of access you need to be able to run.
Plus iTunes. - In a lot of places, practicality will dictate that an employee gets to listen to music of some sort. iTunes goes with the iPod.

They will push Aero, so that needs to be supported by the hardware.
IN a corporate world, you should never have to open a desktop box. It'a almost always cheaper to swap it out.


Re:My question is... (2, Funny)

Real1tyCzech (997498) | more than 4 years ago | (#32287618)

"as to way your post is so damn stupid." ...

Pure. Comic. Genius.

Re:My question is... (0, Troll)

robi2106 (464558) | more than 4 years ago | (#32287238)

You haven't used win7 have you? 2GB is a min just to not get frustrated with the boot process. Then there is the stupid UI enabled by default that sucks up effects like made, almost making hardware graphics cards mandatory.

Re:My question is... (4, Insightful)

Real1tyCzech (997498) | more than 4 years ago | (#32287646)

"that sucks up effects like made"

I think I am beginning to see a common denominator between all the Win7 haters here...

FYI, rob: I have 2 laptops running Windows 7 at home that both have 1GB of RAM. They both boot in under 30 seconds and run Aero just fine. In fact, I almost think it helps that the hardware is older, thus I don't have to deal with the 85+GB drivers, just the basic one's that ship and update with 7. Sure, they won't break any records (the youngest one is 4 years old), but for netflix, Office, and Pandora, they both work beautifully...

Re:My question is... (2, Insightful)

pandaman9000 (520981) | more than 4 years ago | (#32288206)

Win 7 will -operate- with 1 GB RAM.... sure. The difference between 1,2, and 4 GB is in number of open apps and speed of opening/navigation. Windows prefetching will not perform well on a 1GB system, and may actually disable itself, as will most of the efficient caching systems that allow multiple windows to run fairly fluidly. Firefox without prefetch can take 10 seconds to open. With prefetch it is near instantaneous. Corporate users are real negative towards IT departments that do costly upgrades, with no real improvement in performance or usability.

Memory is cheap, and is the single most performance improving/reducing hardware choice for a corporate desktop at this time.

TL;DR version- You are wrong.

Re:My question is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32288288)

That's funny because we're conducting a small pilot of Windows 7 on some older Pentium 4 desktops with discrete GPUs and before we upgraded to 2GB RAM (Started with 1GB), we received a lot of feedback complaining about the relative speed of the computer. After the 2GB RAM upgrade, the user feedback is significantly more positive, though still not where we'd feel comfortable deploying on those machines. These were our oldest machines, but it'll still cost us >$250k in hardware refresh before we can successfully migrate. Of note, these machines run mostly office productivity applications, streaming multimedia, and some basic analytical apps.

As for the OP, I agree that you should be looking more at the reliability of the computers and the quality of the warranty and support rather than the raw performance. On similarly priced and spec'd machines, you really shouldn't notice any practical difference. In fact, it's quite scary that someone who is responsible for investigating a purchase like this doesn't already realize this.

Re:My question is... (1)

Omega996 (106762) | more than 4 years ago | (#32287346)

That's not necessarily true. My main client is a small office with a lot of overworked people light on technical know-how, with a few policies set in place by management with similar workload and technical know-how. The average user here has dual 22" monitors, and a standard workload consists of 7-10 Excel spreadsheets open at once, stupid-sized Outlook mailboxes, multiple web sites, PDF document viewers / editors, along with the craptastic line of business app they use based on Visual Foxpro. It's a struggle to provide them with enough I/O on the desktop to make their "work harder not smarter" brute force approach doable. This isn't even calculating in the deleterious effects of a anti-malware solution, or any sort of management suite.

1GB on Windows 7 is a recipe for disaster. I wouldn't run 1GB on a Windows XP machine, unless the user doesn't use more than one application at a time, and uses some form of webmail instead of Outlook and Exchange. Factor in a lifetime of 3 years (at least), and there's no way that you should be buying any desktop with less than 2 GB of RAM, dual cores, and some modern SATA rotating storage (not that bottom-of-the-barrel low-performance crap that gets used in cheapie desktops) if the users do more than look up YouTube videos on the Internet.

Re:My question is... (1)

Knara (9377) | more than 4 years ago | (#32287352)

I don't think I'd go any lower than 2GB with a decent video card for Win7. There's affordable corporate desktops in the Optiplex line with good Gold-level Warranties available from Dell in that vein.

Re:My question is... (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 4 years ago | (#32287416)

1GB on a Win7 machine is a bad idea. 2GB should be your starting target. Most employees will have several Web Browser instances open (with tabs), Outlook, Acrobat, Word, and maybe an Excel file too. Also, device drivers, Anti-virus software, and programs like Quickbooks will chew through memory fast.

If you can budget it, purchase the smallest HDD drive and put the savings toward 4GB of RAM instead. Generally, users should be keeping files on server anyways.

Driver quality is the question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32286880)

I would agree, except driver quality becomes the issue.
Now with Win7 this may not be an issue, but with Vista the paper specs may have been fine, but if the driver support was crap, the machine was a liability. And for laptops too many drivers are manufacture-gated and not standard for a component.

So, testing driver support and failing per seller is needed.

Re:My question is... (3, Informative)

darkmeridian (119044) | more than 4 years ago | (#32286942)

(1) Pricing.
(2) Reliability/Warranty.
(3) Driver compatibility. Gets rid of most of the issues related to stability.

The fastest processor is useless for word processing, web browsing, and Outlook.

Re:My question is... (1)

Canadian_Daemon (642176) | more than 4 years ago | (#32287176)

(4) ...
(5) Profit!

Re:My question is... (3, Insightful)

nmb3000 (741169) | more than 4 years ago | (#32287350)

This is exactly it. Our department typically buys Dell Optiplex (business class) machines with the cheapest processor and a minimal amount of memory (around 2GB lately). Combined with a 5-year NBD warranty and we have a machine that is a perfectly capable office machine for 5 years.

Who cares if Vendor A's machine performs 5% better than Vendor B at the same price? That analysis is a waste of time -- you'd be better off spending it researching reliability and compatibility. Any more a modern computer's hardware will fail before the system becomes too underpowered to be useful.

Re:My question is... (1)

Nimey (114278) | more than 4 years ago | (#32287960)

Any more a modern computer's hardware will fail before the system becomes too underpowered to be useful.

Not if you cheap out. A couple years ago a department wanted the cheapest laptop possible... you know the rest.

SunRay? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32287488)

The fastest processor is useless for word processing, web browsing, and Outlook.

For these tasks and data entry, I've always wondered why remote displays aren't used. A SunRay can talk RDP or Citrix, and you save on maintenance and power. Of course you have to decent servers, but why bother with putting up with moving parts at all if you don't have to?

Re:My question is... (1)

GIL_Dude (850471) | more than 4 years ago | (#32287168)

I came to the thread to say mostly the same thing, but to also add in that raw performance doesn't mean anywhere near what reliability and break/fix experience do. You really want to base your decision on a mix of reliability / break-fix / and price.

If you want to get some data, you can really just use xperf from the Windows Performance Toolkit. You can get great info on boot times, etc. and what is slowing them down, doing all the disk I/O, etc. using the xbootmgr tool that comes with it as well. I'd really suggest picking the hardware on other factors than performance and then tuning your image as much as possible using the set of xperf / xbootmgr tools.

Re:My question is... (1)

registrar (1220876) | more than 4 years ago | (#32287384)

Is this really necessary for a Windows 7 rollout with corporate desktops? Most machines are already overpowered for the average user using Office and what not.

Very true. Corporate desktops are often frustratingly insanely slow, but this is usually not related to the basic power of the machine (i.e. due to doing stupid things on inadequate networks or similar). Unfortunately it is probably easier to believe the logic that "your computer is slow, so you need a faster computer" than "I need $100k for a new network infrastructure".

Re:My question is... (1)

Demonantis (1340557) | more than 4 years ago | (#32287666)

The more sturdy the machines the better. Especially with todays over powered hulks. Less desktop support the cheaper by far.

Re:My question is... (2, Insightful)

Jaime2 (824950) | more than 4 years ago | (#32287788)

I agree with everything except the warranty. A home user should get a warranty, but medium to large corporatations should buy reliable computers and deal with failure themselves. Buying one spare for every ten computers costs far less than a warranty on all of the computers an gives you immediate repacement instead of one day. The pulled computers can be refurbed at your liesure. A typical failure will be a hard drive, power supply, or maybe RAM. That's less than a hundred bucks in parts. The labor is usually about the same because a corporate tech usually has to let the Dell guy in, walk him to the site, and then install all the custom stuff after he leaves.

Absolutely (1)

theolein (316044) | more than 4 years ago | (#32288216)

For anything outside media production or CAD, there is almost no point in comparing machines of similar hardware specs these days. You will find that vendor guarantee coverage and time-spans, and response times and quality are all more important in terms of TCO, at least in my experience.

Re:My question is... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32288468)

I think it would also be worth considering the power consumption/performance ratio - particularly if this is a large deployment - there is the possibility of saving a considerable sum going forward if you look after this.

Review (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32286752)

Have you ever read hardware reviews? Start with that software, it's almost all free. Run the same benchmarks on each computer and see how it compares. Instant pretty graph, and numbers mean something if you looked further, say for hard drive benchmarks. Or if you have some sort of quintessential app at your company that's rather intensive on the computer, mark % CPU usage or something.

Synthetic Benchmarks are Bullshit (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32286754)

You haven't said what you actually do with these computers. The relevant benchmarks should look like your actual workflow, otherwise you are just drag racing.

Re:Synthetic Benchmarks are Bullshit (1)

Real1tyCzech (997498) | more than 4 years ago | (#32287668)

Best reply yet.... How amusing that it's from an AC.

Hmm (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32286758)

I haven't benchmarked in a while, but this new game came out recently. iD Software's Quake3. All of my hip friends use it to test their machines.

My Slot-A AMD Athlon rocks out like 75 frames a second! Try it out!

Phoronix Test Suite (5, Informative)

mtippett (110279) | more than 4 years ago | (#32286766)

Phoronix Test Suite ( [] ) supports Win7 now. It also allows comparison against OSX and Linux ( [] ).

It's Free, it's Open Source and has a bucketload of tests already. You can combine result sets and you can even get the results uploaded for comparison at []

Creating your own tests is nice and easy too.

(Full disclosure - I am one of the project members).

Authority (5, Insightful)

White Flame (1074973) | more than 4 years ago | (#32286770)

A. Do have the authority to make the decision?
B. Are you tasked with giving him your "expert opinion" on the matter?
C. Are you tasked to actually educate him enough about a technical decision that he has no technical skills to currently evaluate an answer?

A. Evaluate on the specs you know are important on the job, give him a specific brand, and say "trust me, buy these"
B. Evaluate on the specs you know are important on the job, give him a specific brand, and say "trust me, buy these"
C. You're boned.

Re:Authority (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#32287246)

C. is the best if you know what your doing. ALL his information comes from you and source you supply.

Re:Authority (1)

Sorthum (123064) | more than 4 years ago | (#32287764)

Actually, if you're going to be blamed if it doesn't work out just right, endorse an option you KNOW they won't go with. That leaves you in the (enviable) position of being able to say "Well, I recommended $VENDOR_X but you shot it down" should things not work out going forward, rather than being the chump who suggested the failing equipment.

Re:Authority (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32288134)

The old "no one ever got fired for going with IBM" ploy eh?

Re:Authority (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32288512)

Actually, if you're going to be blamed if it doesn't work out just right, endorse an option you KNOW they won't go with. That leaves you in the (enviable) position of being able to say "Well, I recommended $VENDOR_X but you shot it down" should things not work out going forward, rather than being the chump who suggested the failing equipment.

This comment encapsulates everything I hate about corporate culture.

A better solution (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32286774)

Just go to Best Buy and have your computers optimized by Geek Squad. It'll run circles around anything else on the market.

Pointless... (5, Informative)

MarcQuadra (129430) | more than 4 years ago | (#32286782)

This is pointless. Really. All the machines will test within a few percent of each other. It's not like a Dell is significantly faster than an HP (especially if the software image is the same).

If the machines have different CPU/Chipsets/Video Cards, that's a different story, but a PC -is- really just the sum of its parts.

Tell the C-level execs that the best value would be to skip the benchmark and go right to the bidding, let the vendors undercut each other for an extra month.

Re:Pointless... (1)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 4 years ago | (#32287056)

Just tell the C-level execs a car analogy.

Re:Pointless... (4, Funny)

Surt (22457) | more than 4 years ago | (#32287602)

Even better. Get the bidding war going yourself. Make it clear that the winner will be the bidder that will kickback the largest cut. Recommend their hardware to the c-level exec.

The easiest way (and also free) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32286784)

configure 5-7 of each model in a solitary OpenMPI cluster [] and test for performance using processor edge internals and divisional series (or DVM series if you prefer). The results from this test are guaranteed to exploit the Win7 architecture in the same way, and thus the winner will be clear.

Re:The easiest way (and also free) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32286862)

What is wrong with you!? This guy is clearly testing generic office computers, and you tell him to run benchmarks with OpenMPI? Hahaha, seriously, you've been doing high performance computing too long and need a reality check about what most of the office drones do with computers. :)

Gawd. (1)

portalcake625 (1488239) | more than 4 years ago | (#32286790)

Windows 7 actually uses MORE resources over XP, and slightly less than Vista. If you want to present something, make sure it's on Win7's core improvements (e.g. disk read perf with AHCI), x64 performance (if they have x64) (this is important, Win7 x64 blows the shit off Win7 x86) and app performance. I don't really know of any testing tool that can measure all of those and have a score (like 3DMark), but the built in Resource Monitor does well (although it uses percentages)

Re:Gawd. (1)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 4 years ago | (#32286936)

Why not make it a fair test and pit it against XP x64 with AHCI drivers installed?

Re:Gawd. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32288640)

Because anybody who buys hardware today to specifically to run XP64 should be looking for a new job. XP64 is already deader than XP32 and that's saying something. It was never well supported with drivers due to it being rare than rocking horse s**t in the wild, and all future efforts will be focused on W7 x64

Re:Gawd. (1)

Jaime2 (824950) | more than 4 years ago | (#32287684)

Win7 x64 blows the shit off Win7 x86

Do you have anything to back this up? I've done a lot of testing of I/O intensive workloads on XP and found 32-bit XP measureably faster than 64-bit XP. I'm sure 64-bit rocks for applications that require a lot of memory, but I can't see any reason why "64-bitness" should be an advantage for any application with a working set smaller than 2GB.

Re:Gawd. (1)

zach_the_lizard (1317619) | more than 4 years ago | (#32287830)

You can enable more optimizations, because the baseline processor that will be able to run the 64-bit app will have more features. IIRC, they all will have SSE2 at least. Plus, there are more registers. It shouldn't make a big difference in most office use cases Now, working with ginormous spreadsheets / photos/ videos / whatever may see an advantage.

Re:Gawd. (2, Interesting)

Jaime2 (824950) | more than 4 years ago | (#32288324)

The "may see an advantage" you mentioned is exactly what I was asking for detail on. My empirical testing showed that 64-bit isn't a magic bullet, unless your apps have outgrown the memory limitations of the 32-bit world. There are a few natural disadvantages of 64-bit. For example, pointers are bigger, causing more cache misses. I've met way to many people that think that it is a foregone conclusion that 64-bit is faster than 32-bit all the time. I actually had someone respond "How can that be?" to a benchmark result showing 32-bit XP 15% faster than 64-bit XP for one specific workload. For those who may fall into this category, there are many reasons, from immature 64-bit drivers to hand-tweaked 32-bit app code whose 64-bit equivalent hasn't had the same number of years of care and tweaking.

The Real Question is (4, Insightful)

imemyself (757318) | more than 4 years ago | (#32286840)

Why should C-level execs care about what model processor is used in their computers? Office users aren't looking for the absolute greatest performance, they're looking for reliability, manageability, and cost. I can guarantee that no typical* medium or large size business will make a decision on which vendor to use for office computers based on the performance benchmarks. Frankly, who gives a shit about the motherboard in a typical office user's computer. It doesn't matter, certainly not to upper management. Choose something that has a reasonable cost, a solid long term support contract, and is easy to manage in your existing environment. If anything, the support contract, expandability (adding dual monitors later, or adding more memory for heavy data analysts or future software upgrades), and the existing vendor relationships are far more important than performance benchmarks. *Assuming they're not using them to render lots of graphics or do other very specific, specialized tasks.

Re:The Real Question is (1)

lymond01 (314120) | more than 4 years ago | (#32287170)

Office users aren't looking for the absolute greatest performance

1) They're looking for a machine that boots quickly. An SSD will help there but may be too little bang for the buck...just avoid 5400 RPM drives.

2) They want to open every application at once and leave them on for days without paging warnings. 3GB in a 32 bit system. But really, get a 64 bit system if all your apps support it. If you're going Core i processors, get 6 GB of memory to optimize the three channel memory. You'll pay an extra $100...maybe...and your people will be happy for the 4 years of a good onsite warranty.

3) But people here are mostly correct: gathering benchmarks between vendors on mid-range machines is probably going to spend more money than the extra memory per machine will. What will save you the most money is the quality of the support -- do you want to waste hours on the phone with Sony? Do you want Gold Support from Dell where you're on the phone for a few minutes and THEY fix the computer the next day? Perhaps you want to take Dell's Service exam and get certified on their models so all you have to do is order the parts. Depends on how many people on your staff can replace the parts -- might be better to pay for the onsite service so you can be busy doing other things. Dell isn't the only one who offers good support of course, it's just who I'm most familiar with.

Re:The Real Question is (1)

Real1tyCzech (997498) | more than 4 years ago | (#32287722)

The Dell 6400 and I believe 6500 series laptops have the SSD option. We have several of the Platter and SSD versions of the 6400 series laptops and, yeah...the difference is *more* then just noticeable.

For around $100 more per unit, we're increasing the performance of the system more than any RAM, CPU or GPU unit could ever hope to accomplish. Boot times go from over 30 seconds to under 20, apps not only respond faster UI wise, but *functionality*-wise as well (Win7 blows the doors off of XP in UI response when in Aero regardless of drive-type), and if you have server-based storage (personal work-files on the J: share or some such), the limited storage isn't much of an issue.

We've standardized now on the SSD option for all but the worst offline-storage offenders.

Re:The Real Question is - the EULA (1)

Locutus (9039) | more than 4 years ago | (#32287332)

Especially when you can tell them that the required EULA won't allow people to publish benchmarks. You get out of this one easy but don't let them read any of the EULA or they might wonder how businesses can accept that and run Windows.


Re:The Real Question is (1)

uvajed_ekil (914487) | more than 4 years ago | (#32288650)

Why should C-level execs care about what model processor is used in their computers?

They shouldn't, but they do. Middle management (that's what a C-level executive used to be called, right?) likes to think they know everything about everything, but they are influenced by all of the same marketing hype that fools the average consumer - they think they need something based on fancy names, rather than taking a more practical approach. If the machines in question are for general business use, this talk of performance optimization and dedicating a lot of time to processor selection is a complete waste of time. Everyone I've ever upgraded a computer for asks about the "chip" first, then about "memory" so they can have more room for their music files that take up 30% of their hard drive, and this sounds lnoittle different.

With people like this, you should just make your recommendation, tell them it is the most cost-efficient solution (mid-level processor from the company with the best bid), wait for them to attempt to mull it over, then be proud that they trust your expertise. Do your job, and don't stress too much about it. If anything, you could probably phone this one in.

Barking up the wrong tree (5, Insightful)

whomeyup (635503) | more than 4 years ago | (#32286852)

Performance? Really? Personally I'd want stability, reliability, and top notch support. Your average computer user loses far more productivity from downtime due to cheap hardware dying, unstable drivers, etc than to their machine starting (insert app of your choice) .2 seconds slower. I want to be able to order an exact replacement 2 years down the road if a machine dies. I want replacement parts available for the forseeable lifetime of the machines on which I standardize.

Re:Barking up the wrong tree (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#32287268)

"Personally I'd want stability, reliability, and top notch support."
I can get you all that on a 386. are you SURE performance doesn't matter?

Re:Barking up the wrong tree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32287620)

My parents still use Windows 3.1 on an ancient system for the accounting software that they use still works and runs fine. If the software works as needed, what is the problem? Flash and internet don't work on it (oh noes) so productivity is 100%.

It never crashes.
Its reliable and never losses data.
And support is a google away because its been out for so long.

Ok, I'm just being a pain. :) Don't argue semantics.

Re:Barking up the wrong tree (1)

Real1tyCzech (997498) | more than 4 years ago | (#32287726)

Who, may I ask, is offering "top notch support" for 386 systems??

Re:Barking up the wrong tree (1)

Nimey (114278) | more than 4 years ago | (#32287976)

FTM, find me a 386 system whose parts will still be reliable in five years.

Re:Barking up the wrong tree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32287394)

Indeed. Get boxes from a solid vendor geared torwards corporate markets (i.e. Lenovo, HP, Dell). And I *do* mean get the medium/large enterprise product lines, no home-user/SOHO/small-enterprise crap (which even from these vendors, would still be el-cheap-o junk, really).

Get them with at least two HDs in RAID mode (even software raid is much better than none) if you don't have a *everything* in the central server with full backups and enterprise RAID shop and a provisioning setup that can get a full workstation seat back into production state in a few hours. The vendor will deliver it installed already in the proper setup if you buy it right (this is not the sort of dealing you do on the Web!).

Get the full corporate package, with remote provisioning, accounting and maintenance tools (and BIOS/NIC support) -- hint: it is not in the web store. Get *on-site* warranty that matches your computer recycle period (3yr to 5yr typical). This assumes you're not bothering us because you have to buy 10 desktops, of course.

As for the CPU performance bechmarks, they are useless. The only thing that matters on desktops is reliability and some future-proofing if you're not going to get them already with two monitors, etc. On workstations, you'd also do *product* performance benchmarks based on the set of applications they have to run, and the hardware recommended by the application vendor. Don't buy desktops where you need engineer workstations, you would deserve to be fired based on lost productivity alone (which can easily amount to many times your yearly income).

Re:Barking up the wrong tree (1)

necrogram (675897) | more than 4 years ago | (#32287628)

Exactly. boxes from Dell's Optiplex line and HP DC series are designed to be long like machines. common parts between models, long availability of orderable parts make supporting the things 3 years from just as easy.Desktop support is supoposed to be quick and boring.

You'll also want to look at deployment tools. I know Dell gives away tools to intergrate into Microsoft Deployment Toolkit and System Center Configuration Manager. And both HP and Dell will sell you an alteris based solution to roll these boxes out. If you put the proper infrastructure in, you will cut down your long term costs in rolling the boxes out, We invested in Coinfiguration Manger, and with Dell's driver packs, it takes me about 15 minutes to add support for a new model and my master image wont break. It also take about 5 minutes of a tech's time to kick off a system reimage (boot from network, enter your credentials, pick your OS, click next, walk away) and an hour and a half later, out pops a done box, completely patched.

Company contracts might steer you (1)

BlackSnake112 (912158) | more than 4 years ago | (#32286944)

Does your company have any contracts with a vendor now? If so you may not have much choice. But I would factor in 5 year (or greater if they offer it) warranty. This way the machines are covered against hardware failure for that time. Since not replacing these machines for a while sounds like an idea, go a bit bigger to cover you for the long haul.

You didn't say what this is for. Regular office apps, cad apps, number crunching apps, etc. The intended use of the machines really effects hat you should be looking for. A 3GHz quad core with 16 GB of RAM, 1GB video card, and 500GB hard drive should be an OK start for a CAD machine. That would cover the regular office use as well. It should cover regular office use for years. It might not cover the CAD use for years. You need to factor in the intended use of the machines as well. Also desktop or laptop?

You forgot to mention .... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32286966)

You forgot to mention what kind of workload you're needing the machines for. A machine used for CAD or FEM used in construction or achitecture will have very different requirements from a database-heavy stand-alone machine that might get used for human resources or controlling.

What business are you in?

That said, for most applications or average office users, terminal services plus thin clients are the way to go. It may look similarily expensive compared to individual PCs at the first look but if you have/are a capable Windows admin, your business is gonna save hugely on deployment and management costs.

That's the number you want to present to your CIO.

Me, I'd recommend anything Win7 logo'ed... (1)

ibsteve2u (1184603) | more than 4 years ago | (#32287052)

...but do include Gig ethernet and a big fat pipe to the 'net.

The sooner the employees get their porn downloaded and get back to work, the higher the productivity on that little dual core.

The cost of the benchmarks (1)

Pegasuce (455700) | more than 4 years ago | (#32287058)

The cost of you doing the benchmark and the report will probably be bigger than the money you will save by doing it.

why (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32287108)

why buy a bunch of pc's and spend a bunch of your companies time/ money so you can tell your suit how you pissed away X thousand dollars to show him a chart proving the HP is 2% faster than the dell

Office workers use email, spreadsheet, and when no one is looking the web, you have 2 options

1) buy cheap workstations and dont give a crap if they are 1.32% slower than the other ones

2) take the money they would have spent on you for dicking around and just buy a better computer

its like the asshole at my work, who put me almost a full month behind to get everyone on fiber, which runs to the next room and connects to a dsl modem

Re:why (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32287186)

Yeah but now you're future-proofed for when OC-3 lines are as cheap as water!

PC Mark Vantage office productivity benchamk (1)

w0mprat (1317953) | more than 4 years ago | (#32287146)

Or a similar package is best. You get a nice number you can put into graphs and/or powerpoint presentation which such top brass is known to like. IMHO as long as your desktops are reasonable I wouldn't worry. The future is going to need good network infrastructure performance. Focus on gigabit ethernet, as someone mentioned above.

depends on the user use cases (1)

LetterRip (30937) | more than 4 years ago | (#32287182)

What type of workers do you have? It makes a huge difference if you are rolling out just business desktops that do nothing other than an office suite, email, web, and DB queries, versus whether you have folks doing CAD, Engineering, Scientific or Creative applications. For the former, any modern computer will probably be more than enough, for the later some users will need the most powerful computer you are willing to pay for. For instance many 3D applications can make use of a huge number of cores for rendering, compositing, manipulating dense 3D models, or image filters, max out your ram, and put the hurt on top end dual graphics cards.

Re:depends on the user use cases (1)

LetterRip (30937) | more than 4 years ago | (#32287234)

Also forgot to add, that many users (DB, spreadsheet, standard office documents, and creativity, scientific, technical) would benefit from dual monitors for productivity.

Just make shit up (2, Funny)

harddriveerror (1623145) | more than 4 years ago | (#32287204)

Like they will know you did?

Corporate America Strikes Again (4, Interesting)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 4 years ago | (#32287256)

Here's what you do.
You go to etc.


Note specs and prices.
Do this for a week.

Then next week, jump on the first deal that meets or beats the best deal from last week.

Then order up a bunch of machines.

If the number you're ordering is an issue, just call Dell, ask for the supervisor, and then get X machines at the quoted price after agreeing to upgrade them all to the 3-year, NBD warranty.

Corporate will love the price.
Whoever manages the machines (you?) will love the NBD warranty for when a PSU fails, or a fan starts getting noisy. (When, not if.)
You won't have had to do any real work.

Everyone wins.

Last we did a competitive evaluation... (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#32287516)

Not only were the machines similar they were virtually identical. Unless you were looking at the case badge, or the PCI vendor strings, you would have been hard-pressed to tell which was which. Same intel silicon, very similar HDDs and optical drives(not that that really mattered, neither party was willing to quote anything other than a capacity, so the brands we got in the test boxes were assurances of nothing). The RAM was within spitting distance of one another and(again), the vendors would assure us of nothing other than "X capacity, verified compatible) so it wasn't as though the specifics of the test samples told us much.

We ended up going with Dell, just because they were cheaper, their driver download pages are modestly less unpleasant, and their "ImageDirect" tool is actually pretty handy.

Unless you have particular reason to believe otherwise, exhaustive benchmarking will be a waste of your, and the exec's time. The only exception that I can think of would be if you were advocating for something unusual but potentially interesting(ie. Most corporate desktops are brutally I/O bound, straining under the load of A/V, constant patches and updates, and so forth. SSDs would make them fly, comparatively. Particularly if your company actually has a lot of expensive people running around, a "number of minutes from cold boot to productivity" benchmark could be eye-opening.)

why??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32287544)

Why would you bother doing that much work?

C level execs only want to know one thing....

How much it is going to cost them!

So compose a graph of similar PC's with similar builds and costs for each one...
(ensuring the PC specs meet the minimum and probably the recommended specs for the sware in your company)
They will go with the lowest cost every time.

Waste of time.... (1)

QuietLagoon (813062) | more than 4 years ago | (#32287608)

Spend the time to find a vendor who will work with you and help you through the migration. IMO, PCs with similar CPUs, FSBs, memory speeds won't vary enough in performance to justify the effort of quantifying performance differences.

Real Simple with Our Revit Application (2, Interesting)

njhunter (613589) | more than 4 years ago | (#32287642)

This is specialized for architects but we went from a five minute "save to central" time cost with Windows XP 64Bit to two seconds on Windows 7. Our cost to deploy ROI was achieved in one week's work. "Save to Central" is an Autodesk feature for writing to a SQL Server database on a server. Talk about low hanging fruit. Management surely understands that when people are no longer standing around yapping, more money is being made; not to mention happier workers as well! Your results may vary. Of course with Windows, any new deployment is faster on the machine than a stale DLL hell one.

a surprising but better option (1)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | more than 4 years ago | (#32287762)

I've found that less accurate benchmarking that's more realistic is the best bet. Get a stopwatch and clock the boot up and log in time, the time to navigate between internet pages, and the time to open the browser etc. if you say one will take and extra 2 seconds to load and the average person goes to 5000 webpages in a day and you say it will save a significant amount of time for employees, that makes complete sense. Even percentages relative to each other for ram benchmarks and hard drive IO don't really mean anything. People like real world stats that pertain directly to the workplace.

For this, performance is unimportant (1)

gweihir (88907) | more than 4 years ago | (#32287806)

What you will see is marginal differences. Other aspects, like component quality, noise levels, support, etc. will be important, the slight performance differences will be completely unimportant.

I would strongly suggest that you are trying to optimize an entirely unimportant parameter and are overlooking several very important ones. Rethink what you actually want.

Here's how C-level execs think... (2, Informative)

BUL2294 (1081735) | more than 4 years ago | (#32287904)

Here's why this guy is being asked that... Suppose Machine A is "5% faster" than Machine B at the same price point for a common task. Let's say that task is something everyone does often and is easy to measure: booting up. So, if Machine A takes 60 seconds to boot, Machine B takes (0.95*60)=57 seconds--3 seconds faster.

So, here's how the C-level execs think... Say you have 1000 employees, each saving 3 seconds/day in bootup time. 1000 employees * 3 seconds/day = 3000 man-seconds/day. 3000 man-seconds/day * (approx) 225 work days/year = 675,000 man-seconds/year = 187.5 man-hours/year saved! Just think of how much more productive we are due to that 5%!

Of course, that assumes that all your employees are robots and use every second of time productively. To add, by the time the OP gets all the machines, runs the benchmarks, and creates the pretty PowerPoint slides for the C-level execs, this little experiment probably cost the company a lot more than 187.5 hours... (Although you could probably shoehorn a 3-4-year NPV calculation showing a savings for this project...)

Windows software (1)

rwa2 (4391) | more than 4 years ago | (#32288066)

I've used Passmark Performance Test before to bench Windows machines: []

Very straightforward for Windows dorks to install and use, and provides lots of simple graphs and an easy engine to make comparisons. I mostly used the demo version, but the commercial version didn't seem expensive.

Also, props to them for providing this handy reference: []

Again, be sure to test in as close to the final deployed configuration as possible. I've seen pretty big differences in e.g. x86_64 vs. 32-bit Windows performance, and even with different drivers installed or different BIOS settings.

You won't like the answer. (2, Insightful)

golden.radish (1459385) | more than 4 years ago | (#32288080)

There's no business/office productivity software that requires Vista or Windows 7. In fact, I'm not aware of any software of any kind that REQUIRES Windows 7.

You can run everything on XP.

Now ask yourself: "Why are we spending -any- money on upgrades?"

Two paths from this point.

1) Slap yourself, rebuild your corporate image with a nice current minimal build and give users the option to rebuild their machines with said image dynamically, at boot time. This will produce vastly greater productivity than any attempt to upgrade.


2) Continue on your current path to justify your continued employment and claim Windows 7 is necessary and the upgrade is "a must have" to remain competitive.

In no test, on the same hardware, will you see any performance increases, by any time based measurement when comparing Windows XP SP3 vs. Windows 7. Windows 7 will always be slower. Boot time, shutdown time, application launch time, or install time. All slower. And you don't have to take my word for it, break out your stopwatch, you can see it for yourself.

Computing at the speed of... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32288100)


Don't look at CPU look at disk. It seems like most office programs are waiting to get information off of the disk. Get SDD. Or at least make sure laptops have 7200k RPM drives.

Benchmarks a plenty (1)

guruevi (827432) | more than 4 years ago | (#32288428)

There are plenty of benchmark tests around. For C-level executives, the ones that score the machine overall performance with a number would be the simplest. Also see what customer reviews say.

The simplest way to go (and that's what I always do) - spec out a machine according to what you need + a little extra. Go shopping among the vendors (Apple, Dell, HP, ...) and see what the prices say for the machine you spec'ed out (don't forget all the little additions you need to make to make a machine complete - display, video card (missing in my recent HP buy), keyboard+mouse, warranties, support). Then go shopping for a lower and a higher level performance (with Dell the cheap stuff will include yesteryear's technology and gets very expensive with the higher clock Nehalem-architecture), look at the benchmark scores and compare them in a nice table (not too much info - 3 models & 3 benchmarks will give you a 3x3 raster). Next slide you can compare prices, warranty and support ( for 3 vendors (another 3x3 raster).

All in all in about 5-7 slides you should tell them - this is the machine I recommend, you can also get this lower and this higher performance one. This vendor I recommend because they got A+ support ratings according to consumer reviews, you can also go with this and this, here are the prices. These options you can get extra for this price in case some of the departments need them. If necessary you can also add mobile computers and workstations if that's what your end-users need.

Make a Weighted List of Requirements (1)

BBCWatcher (900486) | more than 4 years ago | (#32288490)

Benchmarks are for proving whether particular solutions can meet requirements. But you have to start with a weighted list of requirements first, and get agreement on that list, before you benchmark anything. That list of requirements will contain a lot more than the boot-up time or whether you can open a browser window infinitesimally faster. For example, you could equip every user with solid state disks to improve boot-up performance, but could you afford it, would those SSDs provide enough capacity, and would write performance suffer "unacceptably"? It depends on your company's requirements and relative weighting. Speaking of requirements, what are the power consumption requirements (including both direct electrical consumption and indirect cooling energy requirements to combat the generated heat)? PCs vary in that dimension, too, and in how well (and how deeply) they go into power saving modes in the real-world. Energy costs are often important in the lifecycle costs of PCs.

I agree with other commenters about warranties. Self-servicing may be cheaper and better: to keep a small stock of spare PCs and swap machines if there's a failure. It depends to some extent on how physically centralized your users are, though. I also concur with the advice to err on the side of more memory (and memory expandability) versus CPU clock speed, core count, etc.
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