System comparisons (CPU, etc). How?

I wouldn’t be as bothered by the naming weirdness if there was a single solid benchmark I could use to compare lots of CPUs. Tell me the GigaPetaWizBangFlopScore for each CPU (including the AMD CPUs) and then I won’t really care about the numbering scheme.

There’s no such thing as a single benchmark that can tell you everything you need to know. Different processors excel at different kinds of work, and consequently different applications. Some sites will generate a kind of performance index and create a price/performance ratio. But those lose site of application specific advantages or disadvantages.

Currently, though, the picture is pretty clear. If you can afford it, buy the fastest i7 you can. If you’re at the low end I prefer AMD for the overall platform cost and the fact you don’t need to worry about which do or do not support things like hardware virtualization.

I think you are overthinking things, Phil.

In the past I would spend months researching and pricing to come up with the exact components I wanted that would maximize my “bang for the buck” on a homebuild. I figured this would maximize the amount of time I would have before I needed to upgrade and I always built in an upgrade path by making sure my motherboard supported better/faster RAM and a better/faster CPU.

A year and a half ago I was ready to do another upgrade and realized I was just wasting my time and money. I ended up buying what was not even then a cutting edge Dell system and relatively cheap videocard. Today that system still has no problems with the latest games or anything else I need to do. With a video card update next year and the performance improvements I will probably get from Win7 when I bother upgrading my OS, this system will last me until at least the 3 year mark and perhaps beyond. I paid $650 total for what I have right now.

So my suggestion is to go with what Case suggested or wait for a good Dell deal (just post it here first). Chances are that it will work as well for you as anything you could come up with yourself once you figure out what you want to begin with and will probably be cheaper in time and money spent.

Yeah the problem is there is no such benchmark. You have multiple axis: architecture, cores, and mhz. Ultimately the actual dollar price IS close to what you want though – about 200 bucks and you get a pretty awesome processor. Just buy any Nehalem quad core.

I pretty much just built this exact system, except I used my 750w PSU and used a 5870 card for the graphics. With full turbo going I’ve managed to score 3dMark06 scores 80-90% higher than I was able to manage with an E8400 and a 280 GTX.