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Conclusion

System Builder Marathon: $625 Gaming PC
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As expected, the E7300 System provided better performance at stock clock speeds than last month's system did, but it didn’t nearly provide the same overclocking headroom. Let’s sum up the total performance gains we were able to achieve this month with our overclocking endeavors.

Looking at the average increase of 25%, we see that even when pushing a higher graphics card overclock, our lower CPU overclock keeps us from reaching the same 29% gaming increase that last month's system did. We simply removed more CPU limitation last month by overclocking. Those who don’t want to go back and compare old charts will need to wait for the Performance Analysis to see how the two systems compare in straight-out gaming performance.  

Audio/video encoding took a much larger overall percentage hit from the CPU overclock,  which dropped from an impressive 57% to just 40% this month.

With our other applications, we see large gains in three of the five benchmarks with the overclocked PC. Our 37% overclocking gain in applications from last month, dropped to just 25% this month.   

A few pricing drops and a cheaper PSU made it possible to see if bumping up the CPU to an E7300 was worth considering over the impressive and fairly-cheap E5200. A total average performance increase of 30% fell 11% short compared to last month, but it still shows the system's ability to maximize the value of the chosen components by overclocking. 

So, which is the better CPU? At stock speeds, no doubt the E7300 outperformed the E5200. But was it worth the extra $38 for an SBM machine with which we strive to overclock to maximize performance per dollar? To some extent we will need to wait for the Performance Analysis and a clear picture of the two overclocked systems pitted head-to-head before deciding which is better. 

As overclocking does vary some from chip to chip, it isn’t fair to rule out the E7300 altogether based on one sample of each processor. But these disappointing maximum CPU clock speeds, as well as the few minor annoyances mentioned with PCMark Vantage and when cold booting, left room for discouragement about this month’s system. In contrast, last month's machine with the same motherboard overclocked far higher and was issue-free throughout the duration of testing. All that’s left now is to see how this system compares directly to last month's build and also to the other two more-expensive systems.

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