Testing Recommendations Needed

My organization is currently in the processing of selecting who will be our primary PC vendor for the next three years.  We'll be entering into a contract with them to provide us with 5 standard PC configurations.

A mainstream desktop system
A high-end mutlimedia type desktop system
A mainstream notebook computer
An ultraportable notebook computer
A convertible tablet PC

I know 5 models is more "standard systems" than an ordinary organization has, but trust me if we can get everyone to buy just 5 models it will be a big improvement for us.  We might whittle this down to 3 or 4 over time, but for now we're willing to accept 5 and be happy.

We've evaluated all of our vendors and we're interested in having them all send us their equipment to evaluate.  We need to come up with some tests to put each system through, however.

Here are the tests I've already come up with:

Standard Benchmarking
Disassembly/Reassembly time
Install our basic hardware-agnostic image and see if it boots


Here are some tests I'd like to run but need advice on how to conduct:

Heat buildup test
Acoustic noise test


Those last two tests are information I would like to know, but don't necessarily have the instruments to perform properly.  I could probably get a laser thermometer from the building engineers if one was necessary.  I've also never conducted an acoustic test before, so I'd need some advice on how to do that properly.

What tests do you guys run on new systems?  Subjective or objective tests are fine.  Aethetics don't play a big role in my decision, but they can count for something if the results are close.  I'm more concerned with ease of maintenance for me and ease of use for the users.  

If I have to split points several ways I will add points
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msluneckaAsked:
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CallandorCommented:
For acoustic testing, you can get a Radio Shack sound meter (they come in analog and digital models) and position it a standard distance away such that the sound level is within the capability of the meter (it has to be above 50db, so you may need to bring it in close).  Typically, you want to get a measure of the loudness of cpu fans, power supplies, and hard drives.

For heat buildup, even a Polder digital oven thermometer with probe is pretty accurate, and it doesn't cost much at all.  I have verified that it is accurate from freezing to the boiling point of water.  Everest software comes with temperature monitoring of cpu and hard drives: http://www.lavalys.com/products/download.php?pid=1&lang=en&pageid=3

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rindiCommented:
I'd like to add to Cal's noise measurement. Although the value you get there will be a "Real", measurable value, I think it is better touse the PC in a quiet room and just listen to it. Use it at different loads, as the disks will work more and the fans run faster. Usually it isn't just the loudness that matters, but also how it sounds. Usually small fans running at high speed will result in a high pitched, not very nice to hear sound, whereas larger fans tend to make another type of sound. This doesn't need to be less noisy, but it may still be a sound that is more comfortable to listen to. So for sound I would mainly do subjective tests.
wstuphCommented:
One "test" I would certainly do is to call up customer support for the vendor - probably several times.  See how long it takes to get to a real person at least - of course this will change based on the "level" of support you purchase (the last place I worked had Dell Gold Business and it was so nice to get connected to someone who could help you without having to jump through too many hoops - one time they even sent me a new system just based on me telling them the hard drive was bad, without forcing me to do lots of diagnostics).  I guess this also depends on how big your business is - if you're going to support 100+ computers then having good tech support on the other end is such a nice thing.

You also might want to look into power drain - if you're going to have a lot of computers plugged in, 10% less power drain can add up to a huge savings over the course of a year.
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rindiCommented:
I thought of that as well, but this, if the supplier knows you are a possible customer to come, probably will not give you real life results, as it is likely you'll be better served than once you are a customer. I think it is better to listen around on how others have fared with those companies.
msluneckaAuthor Commented:
If I want to test power drain how can I go about doing that?  Are there instruments I can plug into the computer that tell me how many watts they're pulling down?
msluneckaAuthor Commented:
Also I'm not too concerned with the quality of their phone technical support as we have our own IT staff and help desk that handles that kind of thing.  We're more interested in our business level support.  Ease of ordering, pricing, RMA part supply, things like that.  Ghost shopping the technical support would be OK if we intended to use it, but the other stuff you can't actually test until you're an active client.  So you have to rely on other peoples' accounts.
CallandorCommented:
Dynamic1Commented:
For power Drain borrow an amprobe from someone there Preferably the Electrician :>) Either the negative pr positive lead needs to be seperated from the power source. Most people with an Amprobe have a made up plug to do this.  
Dynamic1Commented:
Here are some benchmarks that will stress every part of the system.
3Dmark 2001 this stresses everything at once CPU,Memory,Video an older test but one of the best overall tests
PC mark 2004 very good also
3dMark 03 and 05 are very good at stressing video card to its limits also seperate CPU tests in there
http://www.futuremark.com/download   link for all of Futuremarks tests.

Also Prime 95 Very good overall system test alot of systems will not survive this test.
http://www.ocprices.com/pageb.php?ptype=7&action=files
Also Sandra that would have you covered.
Dynamic1Commented:
By the way I forgot to add Futuremark is a real nice place to start and use there ORB for comparing your systems to others Hundreds of thousands of stored tests in there to compare to.
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