Plus, how we work out the ratings.We put every CPU through its paces in a rigorous series of tests using real-world applications such as Word, Access, and Photoshop (see Benchmarks for an explanation). The Overall result is relative to a score of 1 from our reference PC - a dual-core 3.2GHz Pentium D 840 system with 1GB of PC3200 RAM, a 10,000rpm Western Digital Raptor hard disk and an Nvidia GeForce 6600 GT graphics card. If a processor scores 1.10, it's 10% faster than our reference machine overall. If it scores 0.50, it’s 50% slower.
To ensure as balanced a test as possible we use identical components in both of our test rigs, with the obvious exception of the motherboard. For AMD processors we use the Asus M2N32-SLI Deluxe, with its Nvidia Nforce 590 SLI chipset, while Intel CPUs were tested on the Intel D975XBX. Celeron D processors aren't supported by this chipset, so for those we used the P965-based Foxconn P9657AA-8EKRS2H. The remaining components are identical on both rigs: 1GB of Corsair 800MHz DDR2 memory, a 36GB Western Digital Raptor hard disk, and a 256MB Nvidia GeForce 7600 GT graphics card with the latest drivers.
A full breakdown of all the benchmark results (including other ‘End of Life’ processors) can be found in the Results Breakdown spreadsheet. Download a PDF with a detailed description of our benchmarks here (1.1MB).