The OfficeBench benchmark measures the time it takes for a system to complete a series of tasks in Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Internet Explorer. The OfficeBench times for the Acer Aspire One AOD150 (117 seconds), Asus N10Jc (115 seconds with Nvidia graphics processor, 123 seconds with Intel GMA 950), HP Mini 2140 (113 seconds), and MSI Wind U123 (118 seconds) show that these Atom-based netbooks are only half as powerful as a full-fledged laptop. (See how these four netbooks stack up in our review.)
A Dell XPS M1710 notebook with a Core 2 Duo (2GHz) processor, 2GB of DDR-2 RAM, a 7,200-rpm hard drive, and an Nvidia GeForce Go 7900GS graphics processor completed my OfficeBench script in just 62 seconds. In addition to their 1.6GHz or 1.66GHz Atom processors, the netbooks also had less RAM (1GB of DDR-2) and slower hard drives (5,400 rpm) than the Dell XPS M1710.
[ Can a netbook serve as your primary PC? See "A week in a netbook, and I'm not missing my regular laptop" and "When does a netbook stop being a netbook?" ]
I created the OfficeBench test script back in 1999/2000 while my company, Competitive Systems Analysis (CSA), was under contract to Intel's Desktop Architecture Labs (DAL). CSA was responsible for a great deal of internal benchmarking and whitepaper development surrounding the Pentium III and Pentium 4 CPU launches.
OfficeBench was designed from the beginning to be a "run anywhere" benchmark. By "run anywhere," I mean that the script will execute reliably under almost any Windows runtime environment. At the time it was being developed, this meant Windows 2000 and Terminal Server. As Windows evolved, so did OfficeBench. Today it supports every version of Windows since 2000, including XP, Vista, Server 2003, Server 2008, all flavors of Terminal Server, and all known application and desktop virtualization environments.
OfficeBench is also version independent. That is, it's designed to work with any version of Microsoft Office. When it was originally conceived, the state of the art was Office 2000. Since then, Microsoft has rolled out three additional versions: XP, 2003, and, most recently, 2007. OfficeBench runs unmodified across all four versions. Combined with the support for the various Windows platform releases, OfficeBench is the only test script of its kind that allows you to compare performance across multiple generations of Windows and Office.