Go get your copies of High Performance MySQL: Optimization, Backups, Replication, and More and MySQL Administrator's Bible1 and read up on benchmarking. Also take a peek at George Trujillo's MOCA. These readings will provide you with a overview of the methods and approaches you will see in later entries. The goal is to get a baseline measurement so that a change can be evaluated as an improvement or a determent.
And lastly get a copy of your new installation's option file, usually my.cnf or my.ini for Windows systems. But do not be surprised if your system does not have one.
To be continued
Next time: A simple test using mysqlslap