Database machine architectures have been proposed as a promising alternative to improve database system performance, control, and flexibility. While many claims have been made for the database machine concept, few studies have been made to test the performance advantages and disadvantages of a database machine in an application environment. A comprehensive benchmark study comparing the performance of database systems on a conventional computer system and a database machine is reported in this paper. The results show the database machine architecture to have superior performance in most cases. The performance advantage is sensitive to the communication line speed between the host computer and the database machine. The effects of line speed are studied and displayed in the benchmark results. A summary of the similarities and differences between the architectures based upon our benchmark results completes the paper.