System Builder Marathon, Q1 2013: $1,600 Alternative PC

Results: 3DMark And PCMark

3DMark gets a 45% boost from the $1,600 PC’s second GPU, but its scores get even more interesting when we overclock. Tuning our machines boosts the $1,000 build by a mere 20%, but pushes the $1,600 PC even higher, giving us more bang from the same overclock.

A CPU bottleneck limiting the second GPU might help explain that disparity; processor overclocking would help open up that bottleneck. On the other hand, all GPUs are overclocked by a greater percentage than the CPUs. We’re probably seeing benefits from a combination of factors, including a faster CPU configuration and the $1,600 PC's beta graphics driver, which was added to solve an issue with OpenCL benchmarks in CrossFire.

PCMark also benefits from the $1,600 PC’s CrossFire configuration. Though the alternative motherboard’s firmware might also have been responsible for a boost in SSD performance, storage scores are scarcely affected.