How to specify PC performance with benchmarks

One of the challenges facing IT managers and procurement specialists is how to specify PC performance in a practical and accessible way that generates competitive offers from suppliers.

Tenders for desktop PCs and laptop computers often use a reference system to specify the minimum required performance. But even experts find it hard to compare the performance of different PC systems from their specifications alone.

A better way to specify and compare the performance of computer systems is to use benchmarks.

What is a benchmark?

A benchmark is simply a test that is used to compare similar products. A computer benchmarking program works by running a series of well-defined tests on the PC to measure its performance.

Benchmarks developed by UL Solutions produce a score that you can use to compare PC systems. A higher score indicates better performance. Comparing benchmark scores is far easier than comparing complex technical specifications.

Which benchmark should I use?

UL Solutions works with leading technology companies to create industry-standard benchmark tests that are widely used by businesses, governments, press, and consumers.

Each of our benchmark tests is designed for a specific scenario—such as home or office use—and a certain class of device—such as a PC, laptop, or smartphone.

You should choose a benchmark that best matches the needs of your end users. For companies buying PCs, laptops, or notebooks for general office use, we recommend our PCMark 10 benchmark.

PCMark 10 measures PC performance with a comprehensive set of tests that cover the wide variety of tasks performed in the modern workplace.

The tests in PCMark 10 include everyday essentials like web browsing and video conferencing, common office productivity tasks like working with documents and spreadsheets, and extend to digital content activities such as photo and video editing.

A PCMark 10 score is a measure of the overall performance of a system for modern office work. PCMark 10 sub-scores help you focus on performance for specific activities such as office productivity or working with digital content.

Choosing a reference benchmark score

Setting a minimum benchmark score in your RFP helps you judge the relative performance and value of different systems. But how should you go about choosing an appropriate score?

You can start by testing some of your existing systems. Our How to Benchmark guide will help you get accurate results. Benchmark old PCs that are ready to be replaced and new systems that were purchased recently. Benchmark scores from these systems will give you good reference points.

If you already have a good idea of the specification you're looking to buy, you can ask a supplier to provide benchmark scores for the system to provide another reference point. Or you can look up benchmark results for similar systems on our website.

Specifying PC performance with PCMark 10

With PCMark 10, you can use the overall benchmark score, which represents the PC's performance for a wide range of office work activities. Or you can focus in on a specific sub-score that is a good match for your employees' typical work tasks.

  • PCMark 10 benchmark score: Overall PC performance for a range of tasks and activities.
  • PCMark 10 Productivity score: System performance when working with spreadsheets and documents.
  • PCMark 10 Digital Content Creation score: PC performance when working with digital content and media.
  • PCMark 10 Essentials score: System performance for everyday activities such as web browsing and video conferencing. Also measures the time to start apps.

Using PCMark 10 scores in your RFP

Setting a minimum benchmark score in your RFP make it easier to evaluate and compare competing offers from your suppliers. Specifying performance with a benchmark score rather than a reference system also gives your suppliers more freedom to come up with cost-effective alternative configurations that you might not have considered otherwise.

Comparing bids that include benchmark performance scores ensures that you won't be distracted by the false economy of a cheaper PC specification that underperforms. When you see PC performance expressed as a benchmark score, you'll also be less likely to overspend on overspecified systems.

For more advice on using UL Solutions' benchmarks for PC procurement, please contact us.

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