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  Intel Pentium 4 2.80 GHz 
  Aug 26, 2002, 12:00pm EDT 

Editorial Interlude

By: Dan Mepham

We very strongly feel that certain aspects of products are overemphasized by hardware sites, while others are drastically underemphasized. More specifically, far too much weight is given to performance, while far too little is given to stability and compatibility. Weíre guilty of this ourselves.

The problem is, both the writer and reader of reviews such as this prefer things simple, and performance benchmarks are extremely simple, perhaps obstructively so. Itís very easy to run a benchmark - it produces a single, neat number that is easily compared to others. Judging a product is easy when you can represent its entire worth with a single number. Product A scored 80fps, and Product B scored 60fps. 80fps is bigger than 60fps, therefore Product A is better. It requires no thought. No work. Itís easy.

Well itís not that simple. Not for us, and not for you.

Both we, as writers, and you, as readers, need to learn to spend more time evaluating other aspects of products, particularly stability. Over the next little while, weíll be experimenting with some new ways of testing and expressing stability results, and will be placing much more emphasis on stability and compatibility than on performance.

Weíll still show you performance benchmarks, but quite frankly, they should be placed much lower on your purchasing judgment criteria list. When you have eight motherboards all scoring within 3% of one another, or five processors, each of which are essentially too fast for todayís software, itís time to start searching for other criteria on which to base your purchase.

Even if you have one piece of equipment thatís significantly faster than another, sometimes stability is more important than speed, particularly for IT users, who represent a large portion of our readership.

In this article, youíll see the results of a series of stability tests through which we ran our test-bed. These are fairly taxing tests; tests which weíve seen some hardware unable to complete. When you see hardware starting to fail these tests, it may be time to ask yourself how important an extra 5fps really is.

Most of the software used in our stability tests is available for download on the internet. Try running some of these tests on your home system; you might be (un)pleasantly surprised.

1. Introduction
2. Another Day, Another Pentium 4
3. Editorial Interlude
4. Test Disclosure
5. Stability Results
6. Performance Results
7. Summary

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