With any system you will want to see a combination of synthetic testing and real-world. Synthetics give you a static, easily repeatable testing method that can be compared across multiple platforms. For our synthetic tests we use Everest Ultimate, Sisoft Sandra, FutureMark's 3DMark Vantage and PCMark Vantage, Cinebench as well as HyperPi. Each of these covers a different aspect of performance or a different angle of a certain type of performance.
Memory is a big part of current system performance. In most systems slow or flaky memory performance will impact almost every type of application you run. To test memory we use a combination of Sisoft Sandra and HyperPi 0.99.
One of the improvements that we have seen with the Nehalem architecture has been a healthy increase in memory bandwidth available to the system as a whole. But, while the triple-channel 1366 Core i7 CPUs have bandwidth to spare, the Lynnfield and new Clarkdale CPUs have a somewhat smaller store. The Clarkdale Core i5 661 comes in with good, but not great memory bandwidth on the ASRock H55M Pro.
HyperPi is a front end for SuperPi that allows for multiple concurrent instances of SuperPi to be run on each core recognized by the system. It is very dependent on CPU to memory to HDD speed. The faster these components the faster it is able to figure out the number Pi to the selected length. For our testing we use the 32M run. This means that each of the four physical and four logical cores for the i7 and the four physical cores of the i5 is trying to calculate the number Pi out to 32 million decimal places. Each 'run' is a comparative to ensure accuracy and any stability or performance issues in the loop mentioned above will cause errors in calculation.
In HyperPi we see some of the limitations of the H55 and the Core i5 661. As HyperPi needs quite a bit of memory bandwidth and good memory to HDD speed, it does not do so well on the entry level H55 chipset.