- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 24, 2007

This morning, my column details the Systemax Pursuit, a good, $999.99 portable running Microsoft Windows Vista.

After the column was filed, Systemax’s PR agency alerted me that the firm is now shipping the machines with a faster Intel Core Duo T5200 processor and an upgraded 80GB hard drive. The 1 Gigabyte of RAM remains the same for the $999.99 price, and doubling that memory via Systemax will still, presumably, cost you $200, versus around one-fourth that price if you buy the RAM and do it yourself.

One reason for the news from the PR firm is that another reviewer, writing for a well-known tech Web site, panned the machine based on benchmark tests. Those tests involve strapping a computer to a workbench and running various routines which supposedly gauge system performance. In my opinion, they’re a useful measure of what a system is capable of doing, but that’s about all.

I’ve written computer reviews for about 24 years, starting in 1983. From that time to this, I’ve never, ever seen a consumer buy a computer for the sole purpose of running “benchmark” tests. We buy computers to get work done or play games or whatever — we don’t buy ‘em for testing purposes.

So while I’m happy that Systemax is beefing up the Pursuit laptop to make it a (somewhat) better buy for consumers — please, sirs, may we have some more RAM for the same price? — I’m not worried about benchmarks. Unless you run a testing lab, benchmarks don’t pay the bills.


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