How We Test PCs

At PCWorld, we take the testing of PCs seriously. It is our aim to use reliable, repeatable tests that provide a broad and accurate picture of how well a laptop, desktop, or all-in-one PC performs. We want you to be able to tell immediately whether one computer is faster than another--and more important, whether it is fast enough for your needs.

How We Test PCs
A team of dedicated professionals in the PCWorld Labs tests and benchmarks all of the PCs we receive, so you know that the results won’t vary because one reviewer failed to run the same tests in the same way as another reviewer did. Our philosophy is simple: Use carefully chosen, reliable, repeatable tests based on real-world applications and workloads. We strive to test every PC by running tasks that real users run, with a careful eye toward making sure that we run those tasks the same way on every PC.

The cornerstone of this philosophy is WorldBench 7, our primary PC testing suite. Recently rebuilt from the ground up, WorldBench runs a set of tasks in real-world applications such as Internet Explorer 9, Adobe Photoshop CS5, and VLC, and distills performance down to a single number. A WorldBench 7 score of 100 represents an “average” PC; a higher score indicates a faster system, and a lower score represents a slower machine. You can compare that score across all PCs, from laptops to desktops to all-in-one systems.

How We Test PCs
In addition to WorldBench 7, we test 3D graphics performance with modern games, as well as battery life on laptops. All these tests combine to form a simple performance score--ranging from 1 to 100--that tells you how well a PC performs relative to other machines in its category. Our Labs analysts also measure each PC's energy consumption during use, at idle, and in sleep mode, to produce a WorldBench Green Score, also on a scale of 1 to 100.

Our goal is to deliver reliable, lab-tested data that gives you the information you need to make the right purchase decision. Does the computer play modern games well? Does it use a lot of energy? Is it a good choice for video and photo editing? Does it boot up quickly? We know that these questions and others matter to PC buyers, and it is the goal of the PCWorld Labs to answer them.

Next Page: How We Calculate a PC’s Score

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