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In this article, we analyze and compare different data center environments in terms of the maximal throughput they offer to end nodes. In particular, we examine to which extent balancing can increase the throughput guaranteed for an arbitrary traffic pattern. We consider and compare two-phase balancing algorithms which are optimized assuming different underlying routing algorithms. It will be shown that optimized load balancing significantly improves the maximal loss-free throughput. A suite of routing algorithms is examined on three cost-effective data center topologies: fat-tree, dragonfly, and flattened butterfly.