CPUBoss.com looks to simplify processor comparison

January 25, 2013 // 10:17 a.m.

Tags: #alex-black #benchmark #chris-reid #comparison #cpu #cpuboss #cpubosscom #jude-fiorillo #mark-feeney #sortablecom

Price comparison and review aggregation sites are a not-uncommon sight on today's web, but a freshly-launched website thinks it may have something a little new to bring to the market: a way to simplify making a decision on what new processor to buy.

Canada-based CPUBoss.com, the site's user experience designer Jude Fiorillo explained in a post-launch interview, is a logical spin-off of Sortable.com, a gadget comparison site created by engineering graduates Chris Reid, Alex Black, and Mark Feeney. Like Sortable.com, CPUBoss aims to make it easier to compare different product offerings in a highly technical market - and in doing so, takes some of the mystery out of picking a suitable CPU for your next PC or laptop.

'We've been looking at ways to make it easier to decide between different products for a while now,' explained Fiorillo of his team's new project. 'The product categories that we think our technology allows us to provide a great solution for are ones that are spec-heavy, and are in need of an easier way to centralise information and communicate it more clearly in a visual interface. Because of that, it seemed natural for us to want to introduce an easier way to research CPUs, since traditional processor sites seem a bit less visually oriented, and the data is scattered around the web.'

When you're as clued-up as your average Bit-Tech reader, it's easy to forget that the CPU market is a maze of bizarre numbers, terms and measurements: megahertz, megabytes, L2 and L3 cache, cores, HyperThreading, Turbo Core, TDP - all of these can make it difficult for a buyer to pick a particular processor if they're not especially technically-minded. That's where CPUBoss aims to shine, Fiorillo explained. 'Our CPU rankings take into account aggregated specs, benchmarks, and reviews that we collect from across the web. When someone uses the Sort screen to search for a particular criteria that's important to them, we use a different weighting of the above factors to come up with a score that favours CPUs that excel in that particular criteria - e.g. overclock speed. Otherwise, for the general scores, our algorithm is a weighted score that takes into account each of those specs, benchmarks, and review data that we collect.'

The result is a visually impressive site that attempts to provide as much information as possible on each processor type while simultaneously breaking it down in a way that's easier to understand. Comparing two processors - such as the Intel Core i7-3770K and AMD FX 8350 - offers an attractive layout that provides at-a-glance summaries of the strengths and weaknesses of both chips, while providing a 'winner' based on either a particular category score or an overall rating. Scrolling further down the page breaks the scores down still further, while benchmark scores from packages such as 3DMark, Cinebench and PassMark are also provided.

While the benchmarks scores provide a neutral viewpoint as to a processor's strengths and weaknesses, the aggregate scoring engine does risk confusing as it simplifies: both the Core i7-3770K and the AMD FX 8350 score '100%' for performance, for example, while a glance at the benchmark results further down the page reveals the Core i7-3770K besting its eight-core rival in everything except the multi-core CineBench R10 result. It also conflates higher numbers as being better: a gauge-like graph provides an overview of clockspeed, while ignoring the rather more important issue of instructions per cycle (IPC) that keeps AMD's higher-frequency chips from competing on an even playing field with Intel's lower-frequency but higher-performance parts.

Such trade-offs are always going to exist when you take something as technical as a CPU and attempt to boil it down to graphs and easily-digestible metrics, however - and there's no denying that the information provided by CPUBoss provides a much better overview of which processors are worth considering than any in-store point-of-sale material you'll see in PC World or the like. With the site officially launched, we'd expect to see the metrics tweaked and refined over time - as well as an increasing number of data sources used for the aggregation, which is currently somewhat heavy on user-provided reviews rather than professional analysis.

As for the future? 'We've had a lot of positive feedback for other hardware like GPUs, so once we've really nailed recommending CPUs we'd like to look at how we can help in areas like that,' Fiorillo explained.

CPUBoss.com is live now, if you fancy having a play with the site yourself.
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