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We start out with one of the most hardware-demanding games currently available. It’s no surprise that even when overclocked, our $500 System, with its single $110 graphics card, is unable to offer playable performance when running the maximum DirectX10 at very high details. These settings are better suited for the more capable GPU solutions found in the $1,500 and $4,500 machines.
After adding even more demands to the GPU by enabling 4x AA, our $500 build begs for mercy. Not even the lowest resolution tested is even close to being playable. At 1920x1200, both setups were full of pauses and seemed to be starving for more memory.
Taking a look at more realistic Crysis settings for this system comprising 1680x1050, no AA, and all medium details, the $500 PC averaged 32.98 FPS at stock speeds and 46.62 FPS once overclocked, which represented a 41% boost. At 1280x1024, no AA, and all high details, it managed 30.17 FPS stock and 38.71 FPS once overclocked, for a 28% increase in performance. We would call this a successful overclock at both these playable settings.
Unlike Crysis, in Unreal Tournament 3 we see the $500 PC offering very playable performance at the highest detail levels. Looking at the results, it would seem things were quite CPU-limited with the E2180 at its stock 2.0 GHz clock speed. Once overclocked, we see huge gains in performance with a drop in speed at the highest resolution showing the GPU becoming the limiting factor.
At 1280x1024, the 2.0G Hz E2180 was indeed the limiting factor in our testing, since enabling 4x AA and 8x AF had no effect on the frame rates. Things quickly change as we up the resolution and increase the demands on the 8800 GT. Even when enabling eye candy, the $500 machine does well at all resolutions and we again see significant gains with our overclocking efforts.