Consisting of two Extreme Quad-Core processors, Intel is looking to redefine what we know as “high-end”. Skulltrail is touted as being the “ultimate” enthusiast platform, offering SLI and Crossfire support, huge overclocking abilities and enough sheer power to make the competition weep.
There is no better way to evaluate a system and its components than to run a suite of real-world benchmarks. To begin our testing, we will use two popular benchmarking suites that emulate real-world scenarios and stress the machine the way it should be… by emulating tasks that people actually perform on a day to day basis.
Both SYSmark and PCMark are hands-free, using scripts to execute all of the real-world scenarios, such as video editing and image manipulation. Each one of these suites output easy-to-understand scores once the tests are completed, giving us a no-nonsense measure of seeing which areas our computer excels in.
SYSmark, from Bapco, is a comprehensive benchmarking application that emulates real-world scenarios by installing popular applications that many people use every day, such as Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoshop, Sony Vegas and many others.
SYSmark grades the overall performance of your system based off of different criteria, but mostly it will depend on how fast it could complete certain tasks. Once the suite is completed, five scores are delivered, one as an overall average and the others for each of the four categories. We perform this test in Windows XP due to frequent errors caused within Windows Vista.
Throwing a second CPU in the machine didn’t make much of a difference, when compared to our QX9770. Not surprisingly, SYSmark was not designed with an eight-core machine in mind, which is why differences are not seen. If it were the frequency that was doubled and not the cores, then scores would be a totally different story.
Surprisingly, the QX9775 scored slightly lower than the comparable QX9770, which may be due to the slower memory.
The most recent recruit to our testing suite is PCMark Vantage, an application that proves to be far more than a simple upgrade from a previous version. Vantage is a completely overhauled application, and this was evidenced by the fact that it took more than two full years to produce. Rather than having a PCMark that could complete in 15 minutes, Vantage’s entire run will take around 90 minutes, testing seven primary areas, such as high-definition video, image manipulation, music conversion, et cetera.
Like SYSmark, PCMark delivers simple scores once completed, one for each of the seven main categories and an overall “PCMark Suite” score, which is what most folks will use for comparisons. I left out two suites due to irrelevancy and to keep the graph a modest size.
Like SYSmark, PCMark is also not designed to handle such a large system, proven by the fact that both the QX9770 and dual QX9775 machine scored almost identical overall PCMark Suite scores. Of course, canned benchmarks don’t matter much in the grand scheme of things. Rather, real-world benchmarks do, which we are going to tackle next.