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The problem of choice that each of us inevitably faces one day is very closely connected with another problem: the comparison. The decision is especially tough when it comes to computers, because there are processors with different architectures, different classes of graphics cards, memory of different types, mainboards and storage solutions with different interfaces in the today’s market. Unfortunately, the technical specifications can not always give you a definite answer. And even if you already have an idea of what your future system is going to be like, there still remain a lot of more specific but not any less important questions to answer. What is more important: faster processor or faster graphics cards? What is faster: large memory capacity with slower memory chips or small memory capacity with faster memory chips? Will one high-capacity hard disk drive be enough or it would be better to have a few smaller-capacity HDDs in a RAID array?

There is only one way-out here: to judge by the benchmark results. But the situation here is also not that simple at all, because the results may differ dramatically depending on the benchmarks you pick. We definitely need a complex system test, but this is where the problem emerges: there are no reliable complex benchmarking suites yet. We had to turn to a widely spread Futuremark PCMark05 suite, but all of you are probably aware of its drawbacks. However, Futuremark Company didn’t waste their time all these years and today they are proud to announce their new complex system performance benchmark that even received a proprietary name instead of a numeric version index. It is called PCMark Vantage .

Our today’s article will be devoted to the peculiarities of the new benchmarking suite, installation and usage techniques.

Installation and Registration

If you have broadband internet connection you can download the 700MB PCMark Vantage installation file. However, before you start, make sure that your system meets the minimum system requirements, which look as follows:

  • PCMark Vantage package requires approximately 800MB of hard disk space and running the tests requires additional 800MB space.
  • You need a modern CPU with SSE2 support.
  • SM2.0 compliant graphics card for the GPU gaming test.
  • SM3.0 compliant graphics card for the GPU image manipulation test.
  • 32-bit or 64-bit Microsoft Windows Vista OS.

The installation process is very simple. All you need to do is to launch the installation file and accept the terms of the PCMark Vantage and Microsoft DirectX license agreement. By default you will be prompted to use Express-install, which doesn’t require any action on your part. By selecting “Custom Install” you can change the location and some secondary options such as creation of a desktop icon, display of the readme file, etc.

Upon first program launch after successful installation of PCMark Vantage you will need to register your copy by entering the license number in the corresponding field.

Non-commercial and home users get the opportunity to use a trial version of PCMark Vantage without registration, but in this case you will need to obtain a trial key. This is also fairly easy: just get online, enter your email address and receive your registration key along with the two code words that need to be typed into the corresponding fields for security purposes (to prevent and automatic registrations).

The PCMark Vantage Basic Edition Trial version has a few significant limitations: a trial code can only be sent once to each email address, the tests can be performed only one time , however, obtained results can be stored online.

PCMark Vantage Basic Edition is a more functional and convenient version. There are a few uncertainties about its pricing: one the site – as you could have seen on the screenshot above – the price is set at $4.95; in the user’s manual – at $6.95. By paying $5-$7 USD you can launch PCMark Test Suite unlimited number of times, but will only have limited on-line and off-line functionality: you will only be able to view the obtained results online.

PCMark Vantage Advanced Edition version allows using not only the basic set of tests, but also all other tests and will offer you full access to test settings and complete on-line functionality. It sells for $19.95. All of the above mentioned PCMark versions are available only online and are intended strictly for non-commercial and home use.

By purchasing PCMark Vantage Professional Edition for $495 you acquire a CD disk with the complete benchmarking suite, technical support, opportunity to view your test results off-line, use of command prompt, export of test results in Microsoft Excel and the right for commercial use.

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