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We saw how each system was able to gain performance in individual benchmarks, now let's consider overall performance gains. We averaged the performance gains for each benchmark set to see the general improvement overclocking was able to provide.
Overclocking improved our low-cost configuration across the board, but with an overall performance advantage of only 11%. Let's see if the mid-priced system did any better.
The mid-priced system uses a far more overclockable processor, yet cooling limits kept us from reaching its ultimate potential. A performance gain of 26% in applications leads its 22% overall improvement.
Many games were proven CPU-limited in the high-end system's basic configuration, yet our 45% overclock provided only a 20% average gaming performance increase. Applications responded far better to the faster CPU, with a very nice 40% performance gain. Overclocking turned the high-end build into a true multimedia applications workhorse in spite of the build's gaming aspirations.
With the exception of the game Crysis, adding a third graphics card for 3-way SLI mode didn't provide the large performance benefit most builders hope for. Yet Crysis was the game that needed the most help. Anyone who wants the best gaming experience in Crysis will want to consider adding a third card, while nearly everyone else will find the 3% average gain is a waste of money.
The high-end system may have posted some incredible performance gains, but the battle between these three systems isn't over yet. Tomorrow we'll see how the price of each configuration compares to its performance level.
Here's a list of the System Builder Marathon (SBM) articles in this five day series.