How We Test PCs

WorldBench 7 Tests in Detail

How We Test PCs
Each of the five categories of tests in WorldBench 7 consists of one or more tests. Here’s a description of each, along with links to the software we use. Note that we use the 64-bit version of each application if such a version is available and if the machine being tested uses the 64-bit version of Windows.

Office Productivity

Our Office Productivity test is the only somewhat synthetic test in the WorldBench 7 suite. PCMark 7 runs a wide assortment of tests to gauge the performance of various parts of the PC, but we use only its Productivity score, which runs tests of typical office tasks such as editing text, browsing the Web, launching applications, and scanning for viruses. On this test, a higher score is better.

Content Creation

Our Content Creation tests are the most complicated, and consist of three subtests: Audio Encoding, Video Encoding, and Image Editing. The Audio Encoding test makes up 20 percent of the score, while the Video Encoding portion and the Image Editing subtest each make up 40 percent. On each of these tests, a lower score is better.

The Audio Encoding test takes a CD’s worth of uncompressed .wav files and converts them to MP3 format using VLC 1.1.11. (For more about VLC, read our review.)

To test Video Encoding, we use ArcSoft MediaConverter 7.5. This application supports Intel’s QuickSync, AMD’s APP, and Nvidia’s CUDA acceleration; we use whichever is available to the system for best performance. We convert a high-definition video clip (MPEG-4 video with AC-3 audio in an AVI container at 1080p resolution) to iPad format.

The video file we use is the royalty-free short film "Big Buck Bunny."

Our Image Editing test runs through the publicly available HardwareHeaven V3 test script using Adobe Photoshop CS5. This script performs a series of common Photoshop actions and filters on a very large image file, timing how many seconds the system takes to complete each one. We then record the total time as the Image Editing score.

Web Performance

Users spend more time on the Web than ever, and today’s sites and Web applications are more demanding than ever. Our Web Performance test is not concerned with the speed at which pages load, which varies greatly depending on your connection, your choice of browser, and other factors. Rather, we measure how well the system can render highly advanced, dynamic Web content, including HTML 5 and JavaScript. To that end, we run the WebVizBench benchmark test using Internet Explorer 9. This test makes good use of multicore CPUs and GPU acceleration, and easily stresses even powerful systems. We run the tests in a 1280-by-720-pixel window and take the final Frames Per Second result. On this test, a higher score is better.

Storage Performance

We run two tests to determine how fast a PC's storage subsystem is. The first is our File Operations test, in which we take a very large (6.9GB) directory full of images, videos, music files, and documents, and perform a controlled series of common tasks--copies, moves, and deletes--to another directory on the same drive. The second is our Compression test, in which we use that same data set to conduct a series of zip and unzip operations using 7-Zip 9.20. (For more about 7-Zip, see our review.) We time how long the system takes to complete each of these two sets of operations. The File Operations and Compression tests each count for half of the Storage Performance score. On these tests, a lower score is better.

Startup Time

For this basic test, we insert a command to open a simple text file into the PC’s Startup folder. Then we completely power down the PC, and time how long it takes to go from pressing the power button to the point at which the Windows desktop loads our text file. In other words, this test measures how long a PC needs to go from completely off to a state where the user can launch applications. On this test, a lower score is better.

Next Page: Other Tests

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