System Builder Marathon: Overclocking

Comparing Our Efforts

As always our System Builder Marathon will conclude with a head-to-head, performance-to-price comparison of all three systems at both stock and overclocked speeds, but that won’t happen until tomorrow! So before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s take a look at how much added performance each builder was able to push out of his system.

Starting with a processor speed of 3.0 gigahertz gave $4000 PC builder Thomas Soderstrom a moderate amount of room to overclock the system’s Core 2 Extreme QX9650. Still, he’d chosen the processor because it overclocked farther than this site’s QX9770, allowing a much higher overclock percentage, and used a very large water cooler to enhance its capabilities.

Application performance gains averaging 34% lead a total system gain of 29% over the base speed. Graphics overclocking played a huge role, as the current build started out with a performance deficit compared to the March build in our gaming suit.

Sub-$2000 PC builder Don Woligroski had the misfortune of receiving a poor-stepping Core 2 Quad QX6600, but hoped to increase its potential with a smaller version of the monster cooler used in the more expensive system. Was the compact water cooler enough to put him on top?

Synthetic benchmarks lead the way in Don’s system by showing a 34% performance gain compared to the previous base system, but the average lead was a little behind the “big build” at 28%.

Shelton Romhanyi’s $1000 build began with a super slow processor that should afford very much overclocking capability, except that a small budget limited his cooling choices. Is the Cooler Master Hyper TX2 CPU cooler really enough?

A huge 45% gaming gain over the previous system’s basic settings leads an average increase of 37%...but the new build started out with a 14% advantage over the former build. Taking the former build out of the calculations, overclocking boosted Shelton’s system performance by 21%.

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