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System Builder Marathon, May '09: $2,500 Performance PC

Today’s $2,500 system certainly feels like a performance machine, but we’ll have to wait until Thursday to see where it stands against the less expensive builds of this month’s marathon. However, we can consider the impact of overclocking on performance and efficiency.

While the graphics system had the highest overclock as a percent of base speed, the greatest performance yield came in A/V encoding by way of CPU overclocking.

But overclocking increases heat and a warm system is usually less power-efficient than a cool one. So how much did overclocking hurt efficiency?

We’re thrilled to see an efficiency increase of 1% (actually, 0.6% rounded up) through overclocking in the chart above, and the added efficiency makes some sense because of the low voltage levels used to reach those higher clock speeds.

While supply issues led us to use substitute parts, identical specifications helped ensure that the substitutes had no performance impact on today’s build. And while the end product doesn’t look identical to the system we planned, it was still a pleasure to use.

Ed.: Stay tuned for part two of our System Builder Marathon tomorrow. And as mentioned, keep an eye out for the upcoming contest, where we give this machine (plus the other two) away!

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