Benchmarking software typically allows for overclocking or fan speed settings changes. These options allow users to configure hardware changes through software. Keep in mind, benchmarking your PC is a bit more complex than simply running software.
Head to our article on how to benchmark like a pro to get a rundown of how to accurately benchmark your components.
Benchmarking allows users to gauge hardware performance, troubleshoot issues, and compare system setups. It’s commonly used among gamers. We introduce you to the technical details and show you how the pros benchmark their systems.
CPU-Z will provide users with a complete rundown of your PC’s hardware specifications, particularly concerning your CPU.
It also provides specifications for your motherboard, RAM, and graphics card, making it a great all-around program to visualize hardware makes and models. You can even save a TXT file of the information via the Tools option.
HWMonitor not only visualizes the make and model of hardware components in your PC, but it also displays certain parameters live.
These parameters include power consumption, fan speeds, utilization percentage, clock speeds, and temperature. This can be crucial, as issues like an overheating component in your PC can lead to frequent PC shutdowns.
HWMonitor’s simple interface also makes all values easy to view and understand. Of course, you can also save this information for further troubleshooting via the File option.
SiSoftware Sandra Lite is a fully-featured benchmark suite which is aimed at users who are very well informed about the inner workings of their computers, and for businesses which need to perform a detailed analysis on multiple computers.
Want to test your computer’s memory bandwidth? No problem. Want to benchmark network performance? Sure. Want to benchmark your computer’s power efficiency? Yes, Sandra does that as well.
Another useful feature of SiSoftware Sandra Lite is its online reference database. SiSoft Sandra will benchmark your component or online connection and then compare your performance with other similar processors to give you a better idea of how an upgrade may or may not help you.
Piriform’s Speccy, from the creators of CCleaner, is a favorite among the gaming community for its simple layout of a PC’s hardware configuration.
Once it’s open, Speccy will provide a thorough rundown of every component, and most drivers, currently available on your PC.
If you click on the individual parameters on the left-hand side of the window, you’ll get even more information concerning your specific hardware including temperature, voltage, fan speeds, and more.
Fraps is the de facto FPS benchmarking tool in every gamers arsenal. Easy to use and configure, Fraps will allow users to view and save their FPS ratings over time.
While Fraps is largely used to show FPS ratings over time, which is very useful for testing new hardware or overclocking your PC, it can also be used to screenshot and record gameplay as well.
CPU benchmarks not only provide users with data concerning clock speeds and temperatures, but they also compare your CPU’s performance with the performance of others.
Keep in mind, it’s difficult to separate pure CPU benchmarks from pure GPU benchmarks; both typically drive a PC’s overall performance. A PC’s motherboard also largely influences the performance of the CPU, and a cheap or older motherboard may even throttle your CPU’s performance.
CineBench provides one of the most thorough and trusted CPU benchmarks available. It renders an image—rendering being a task largely undertaken by the CPU—and compares it to other real-world tests in order to gauge your CPU’s performance.
It’s as real-world as it gets: while other benchmarks will test your overall PC performance or a combination of your CPU and GPU, CineBench specifically tests all available processor cores of your CPU. After the test is run, your processor will be graded in points: the higher your points, the stronger your CPU’s performance output.
RealBench is another example of real-world CPU benchmarking. It uses four tests, all involving rendering in some capacity: Image Editing, H.264 Video Encoding, OpenCL, and Heavy Multitasking.
You can upload your finding to the RealBench website to compare where you stand with other benchmarked hardware configurations. Possibly the best aspect of RealBench is that it simulates a regular course load; no stress testing to push your CPU to the max in order to gauge its performance. Although, of course, stress testing is also an available feature in RealBench.
GPU benchmarks are much like CPU benchmark: they will update the user on the clock speeds, bus speeds, temperatures, and fan speeds of your GPU.
Not exclusive to MSI graphics cards, MSI Afterburner is the best live monitoring GPU tool around. Afterburner allows users to overclock and monitor their software in one program.
It tracks every parameter you need to chart graphics card parameters: clock speed, temperature, RAM usage, fan speed, and CPU usage (by core). You can also save and activate overclock profiles at startup, so you’ll always be overclocked at the outset.
The Unigine suite has been the go-to benchmarking software for graphics cards for years. If, for example, an overindulgent overclock has the possibility to damage your GPU over the long run, Unigine engines will make sure they benchmark and stress-test the GPU to ensure maximum performance and stability. It also allows users to test varying degrees of detail, so any GPU—budget or otherwise—can be tested using the software.
10. FutureMark Suite
Similar to the Unigine suite, FutureMark provides high quality benchmarking software for your GPU. Downloadable through Steam, you can use a free demo version of 3DMark’s paid software.
The 3DMark Basic Edition, equipped with the DirectX 12 benchmark Time Spy, should more than meet your needs. 3DMark scores are also some of the best indicators of GPU performance around.
Benchmark Your PC The Right Way
There are plenty of system benchmark software available online, most of which do a poor job of truly revealing your component’s performance. The list above is comprised of tested and trustworthy benchmarking programs which IT professionals and casual users can both use to gather information concerning a PC’s hardware configuration.
Much of the software provided can also be used to stress test your PC components.
List of the Top Computer Stress Test Software: Best CPU, GPU, RAM and PC Stress Test Software in 2020.
Stress testing is a type of performance testing that validates the highest limit of your computer, device, program, or network with an extreme load.
Stress testing will check the behavior of a system, network, or application under an immense load. It also checks whether the system can recover while returning to the normal stage or not.
The main purpose of stress testing is to check the recoverability of the system, program, device, or network.
There are five different types of stress testing i.e. Distributed Stress Testing, Application Stress Testing, Transactional Stress Testing, Systemic Stress Testing, and Exploratory Stress Testing.
This article will help you in selecting the right stress testing tool. Tool selection depends on the type of testing that you want to perform like Stress testing for your PC, Stress testing for CPU, Stress testing for RAM, or Stress testing for GPU.
The image given below will show you the different factors of stress testing.
While performing hardware stress testing, we need to monitor different factors like temperature, etc and it varies according to the model design and infrastructure. Coverage of stress testing, as well as the risk, should be considered before it is performed.
If you are performing stress testing on the computer then the focus of stress testing will be on two components, i.e. the CPU and memory.
CPU stress testing is performed to check the CPU’s performance after running it at a full speed completely up to maximum temperature. When CPU stress testing is performed, all the cores of the multi-core system will get used. CPU will get tested with a compatible and justified workload.
GPU stress testing is performed to check its limits by utilizing its full processing power. Stress testing a RAM is the first thing that you should perform if you are facing any of the problems like bluescreen or system reboot.
Different tools use different techniques for checking the performance of the system. For Example, some tools use a 3D scene or some use the prime numbers.
Suggested Read => Most Popular Performance Testing Tools
Tip: Hardware stress testing should be performed according to its usage. While performing hardware stress testing make sure that your CPU is well ventilated, is cooled down properly, etc. Most importantly, check if the power supply is good.
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What You Will Learn: [show]
List Of The Top Stress Test Software
Enlisted below are the top computer stress test tools that are used worldwide.
Comparison Of Top Tools To Stress Test
|Stress Test Tools||Scripting||Best For||Capability||Type of testing tool can perform||Price|
||GUI Based. Zero Scripting required.||Performance testing of Web Applications.
It can simulate multiple virtual clients.
|Works with any browser and any technology.||Stress Testing, Load Testing, Endurance Testing.||Free|
||Supports GUI and Scripting.||Performance testing of Web Applications.||It works for Web applications, Servers, Group of servers, and network.||Performance Testing.||Free|
||Supports Python coding.||It provides a functionality to check the simultaneous number the system can handle.||It can perform load testing on multiple distributed machines.||Load Testing||Free|
||UI and Scripting.||Ease of use.||Works with Open Source tools. Traffic recording for Native & mobile Web App on any type of device.||Performance testing, continuous testing, functional testing, soak testing, API testing, Websites & Apps testing.||Free,
Basic: $99/ month,
Pro: $499/ month
||Uses node distributed architecture.||Providing uninterrupted service for long hours.||It supports various domains and technologies.||Functional Testing, Load Testing, Performance Testing.||Pricing starts at $149 per month.|
LoadTracer is a tool for stress testing, load testing, and endurance testing. It is used to check the performance of web applications. It is a lightweight application. It works with any browser and technology. It is easy to use and allows you to perform testing without scripting.
- It has an analyzer for producing graphs and reports.
- LT Monitor will provide various performance counters for monitoring.
- The Recorder can record all the interactions between the browser and the server. It generates the script file of that.
- Using the script, Simulator generates virtual users.
JMeter is an open source application. Initially, it was designed for testing web applications but now some other test functions are also included. It is used to measure the performance of static and dynamic resources.
It is also used to load test the functional behavior of applications. It is used to load test the server, group of servers, network, etc.
- It provides the command-line mode to java compatible OS.
- It offers Test IDE which can record, build, and debug.
- Facility to replay the test results.
- It provides HTML report.
- Complete portability.
- Pluggable and Scriptable Samplers.
Also Read => Free JMeter Training That You Should Never Miss
Like JMeter, Locust is also an open source tool for load testing. It supports defining of user code with the Python code. Instead of clunky UI, it provides you the facility to describe your test in Python code.
- It supports the running of load tests on multiple distributed machines.
- It is scalable as millions of users can be simulated simultaneously.
- User behavior can be defined in code.
Price: BlazeMeter offers three pricing plans i.e. Free, Basic ($99 per month), and Pro ($499 per month).
BlazeMeter can be used for Performance testing, continuous testing, functional testing, and soak testing of API, Websites and Apps. It will let you take the full advantage of open source tools like JMeter, Selenium, and Gatling, etc.
- Front end performance can be monitored under the load.
- No coding will be required to perform performance testing on URL.
- Blazemeter will provide real-time reporting and comprehensive analytics.
- It provides multiple options to record the traffic of Native and mobile Web App. This feature works for any type of device.
- It provides many more features like scalability, network emulation, and monitoring integrations.
#5) Load Multiplier
Price: Load Multiplier has flexible pricing packages for functional, load, and performance testing. It offers various plans for Client Simulator, Server Simulator, HTTP/HTTPS Recorder, and for JSON Proxy. Pricing starts at $149 per month. A free trial is also available for its service.
Load Multiplier can be used in various domains and technologies. It includes SIP Servers or Clients, IMS Servers or Clients, HTTP Servers or Clients, and WebRTC Servers or Clients. It offers different testing tools to test BFSI, Telecom, VoIP, Media, Web, WebRTC, and Proprietary products.
- High optimal design.
- It gives you the flexibility to use a single machine, cluster of machines or creation of single or multiple test bed for generating the volume of load.
- It also provides test automation framework.
Website: Load Multiplier
Computer Or PC Stress Test Software
Performing stress testing is about creating and maintaining the unfavorable environment. To check the stability of the PC, stress testing should be performed on it. Stress testing of the PC includes temperature and load monitoring of different components.
CPU, GPU, RAM, and motherboard stress test tools will help you to monitor the components and give information about the temperature, load, fan speed, and several other factors. We have shortlisted the top stress testing tools for your reference. The list includes a tool named PCMark 10 which is a tool for benchmarking.
Benchmarking process is similar to stress testing. Stress testing is performed to check the stability and benchmarking is for measuring and assessing the maximum performance.
The List of the Top Computer Stress Test Software
#6) PCMark 10
Price: The Basic Edition of PCMark 10 is free. The Advanced Edition of PC Mark 10 will cost you $29.99. Both these are for home users. PCMark 10 Professional Edition is for business use. The price of this plan starts at $1495 per year.
It performs the test for a wide range of activities. It includes activities from daily productivity tasks to demanding work of digital content.
There are three products of PCMark 10, i.e. PCMark 10 benchmark, PCMark 10 Express, and PCMark 10 Extended. PCMark 10 benchmark is for PC evaluating organizations. PCMark 10 Express is for basic work tasks. PCMark 10 Extended is for the complete assessment of the system performance.
- The latest version has new and improved versions.
- It supports Windows OS and Windows 10 is also supported.
- It provides extended and custom run options.
- It provides multi-level reporting.
- No need to select the mode as in PCMark 8.
Website: PCMark 10
JAM Software offers the product HeavyLoad to Stress test your PC. HeavyLoad is a Freeware. It puts a heavy load on your workstation or server PC. HeavyLoad can stress test the CPU, GPU, and memory.
- It will allow you to customize the test methods as per your needs.
- It lets you choose the available cores for testing.
- It checks the system’s behavior with dwindling disk space.
- It also checks memory allocation with scarce memory.
- For stress testing of GPU, it uses the 3D rendered graphics.
Price: It offers a free trial for 30 days. BurnInTest Standard Edition will cost you $59 and the Professional edition will cost $95. Support and updates are included with both the pricing plans.
BurnInTest is a tool for load and stress testing of Windows PC. BurnInTest will allow you to stress test all your computer sub-systems simultaneously. For storing the test results at a central place, it can be integrated with PassMark Management Console.
- It will help you with PC troubleshooting and diagnostics.
- As it can perform simultaneous testing, it reduces the time required for testing.
- It can perform testing for CPU, Hard drives, SSDs, RAM & Optical drives, Sound Cards, Graphic Cards, Network Ports, and Printers.
Additional Tool for PC Stress Test:
#1) Intel Extreme Tuning Utility
Intel Extreme Tuning Utility is an application with strong capabilities for Windows systems. It will allow you to overclock, monitor or stress the systems.
Website: Intel Extreme Tuning Utility
CPU Stress Test Software
The CPU needs to be stress tested in order to ensure its stability. It is stress tested using extreme workload, memory usage, clock speed, voltages, and different types of tasks.
Before performing this type of testing, different parameters like temperature, overclocking, underclocking, and overvolting should be changed according to the heavy CPU loads.
While performing the CPU stress test, the CPU should be properly ventilated and cooled. While running the CPU stress testing, the temperature should be monitored frequently. CoreTemp is an optional software which can be used for temperature monitoring. This step can avoid the damages caused by overheating.
What should be the temperature of the CPU?
The answer to this question depends on the model but it could be at a maximum of 80 degrees Celsius. Because ideally, it should be around 50 to 70 degree Celsius. With Intel models, the temperature may be higher.
The below image will show you the temperature difference of the CPU with different tools.
Also, while running the test, make sure that the CPU usage is 100%. If we take the example of the Prime95 program, then it should at least run for 3 to 6 hours to overclock the CPU correctly. Some of the top tools for the stress testing of CPU are listed below.
List of the Top CPU Stress Test Software:
#9) Core Temp
Core Temp is a powerful tool for monitoring the temperature of each core of every processor of the system. It will display the temperature in real-time with changing workloads. It works for Intel, AMD, and VIA*86 processors.
- Motherboard agnostic.
- Supports customization.
- Supports expandability.
- Platform for plugin-in that will be helpful to developers is also included.
Website: Core Temp
HWiNFO64 is the diagnostic software for Windows and DOS systems. It can perform hardware analysis, monitoring, and reporting. It has features of customization, extensive reporting, and in-depth hardware information. You can download it for free.
- It will provide in-depth hardware information.
- It performs system monitoring in real-time.
- It will provide extensive reports. It provides multiple types of reports.
- It supports Intel, AMD, and NVIDIA hardware components.
Prime95 is the tool for stress testing of CPU and RAM. It provides the option to perform stress testing on both memory and processor. Its new version has included a sub-project of finding prime Mersenne co-factors. Prime95 can be used in two ways i.e. automatic and manual. You can download it for free.
- It has a newly added P-1 factoring.
- It has also included Step 1 GCD for ECM.
- For LL tests, it can perform enhanced error checking.
- It supports Windows, Mac OS, Linux, and FreeBSD.
Cinebench is available for Windows as well as Mac OS. It is used for measuring the performance of CPU and GPU. For measuring the performance of CPU, it includes a photo-realistic 3D scene in a test scenario. This scene uses various algorithms and gives stress on all available processor cores.
- System’s performance is checked using a 3D scene.
- All the available cores are stressed using the various algorithms.
- It displays the result in points. The higher the number, the faster will be the processor.
Additional Tools for CPU Stress Test:
AIDA64 can detect fake video cards of NVIDIA and monitor sensor values. Intel CPU platforms and latest AMD are supported by AIDA64. It provides Apps for iOS and Windows phones. These apps are available for download at a free of cost.
#2) IntelBurn Test
IntelBurn Test is a freeware program for simplifying the usage of Linpack. Linpack is provided by Intel(R) for performing the stress testing of CPU. IntelBurn Test supports Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows XP.
Website: IntelBurn Test
RAM Stress Test Software
While performing hardware stress testing, memory and the CPU are the two components that are stress tested for extreme workload, memory usage, heat, overclocking, and voltages.
Bad graphics cards, bad drivers, overheating or bad memory can be the reasons for bluescreen and system rebooting. Hence, if you are facing any of the issues like blue screen or system rebooting, we will recommend testing the memory first. One the reasons for such recommendation is that it is easier to do.
With memory testing, we particularly check the computer’s memory allocation techniques with scarce memory. We have shortlisted some of the RAM Stress testing tools for your reference.
Best RAM Stress Test Tools:
Price: It offers three pricing plans i.e. Free, Professional, and Site edition. The price of the professional version starts at $44. Site version will cost you $2640.
MemTest86 is the program for memory testing. For testing the RAM, it makes use of comprehensive algorithms and test patterns. It can use 13 different algorithms and supports the latest technologies.
- It has features like report file generation and customizable reports.
- It supports multiple languages.
- It is bootable from the USB.
- It supports multiprocessor, UEFI BIOS, DDR2/DDR3, and DDR4.
Stress-ng is the program to test your computer sub-systems. It will also help you with exercising the OS kernel interfaces. It can perform over 200 stress tests. It has 70 CPU specific stress test and 20 virtual memory stress tests. It supports Linux OS.
- It has around 200 stress test.
- It is designed in such a manner in which different subsystems and OS kernel interfaces will get exercised.
- It has 70 stress tests specific for CPU which includes floating point, integer, bit manipulation, and control flow.
- It can perform 20 stress tests for virtual memory.
Additional Tools for RAM Stress Test:
As seen before HWiNFO64 is also used for stress testing of RAM.
As seen before it can perform stress testing on CPU as well as RAM. Prime95 provides the feature of Torture Test for the stress testing of CPU and RAM.
GPU Stress Test Software
GPU stress testing is performed to check the limits of the graphics card. It is performed by making the full utilization of its processing power. During the stress test, you can monitor the GPU using the overclocking tool.
The aim of GPU stress testing is to crash or overheat or to ensure that the graphics card will not crash even after intensive use. While performing the testing, the temperature should be monitored frequently and it should not exceed 100 degrees Celsius.
We have chosen the best tools for GPU stress testing and have listed them below. We would like to provide some tips for the selection of GPU stress testing tools:
- The tool should be able to read any sensor output and write it to a file in real-time.
- It should have a less cluttered display.
- Tool’s support for the graphics card provider (like NVIDIA, AMD, or ATI)
Top GPU Stress Test Tools:
GPU-Z will give you the information about the video card and graphics processor. It is a lightweight program. It has many features including the support for NVIDIA, AMD, ATI, and Intel Graphics devices. It supports Windows OS (32 and 64 bit). It will also help you with the backup of your graphics card and BIOS.
- Graphics card BIOS backup.
- Load test for PCI-Express lane configuration.
- It can display adapter, overclock, default clock, and 3D clock & GPU and display information.
- It can be used for the stress testing of NVIDIA, AMD, ATI, and Intel graphics devices.
#16) MSI Afterburner
MSI Afterburner is used for overclocking and monitoring purposes. It will allow you to run in-game benchmarks. It can record the video for gameplay or can also take in-game screenshots. It is available at a free of cost. It also supports graphics cards by all companies.
- It will allow you to customize the fan profile.
- Video recording.
- It supports graphics cards of all companies.
Website: MSI Afterburner
#17) Heaven & Valley Benchmarks
Price: It has three pricing plans i.e. Basic, Advanced, and Professional. The basic plan is free. The advanced plan will cost you $19.95. The professional plan will cost you $495.
It can perform performance and stability testing for the cooling system, power supply, video card, and PC hardware. It supports Windows, Linux, and Mac OS. For GPU stress testing, it supports ATI, Intel and NVIDIA.
- It provides command line automation support.
- It provides reports in CSV format.
- Its key features include GPU temperature and clock monitoring.
Website: Heaven & Valley Benchmarks
Price: 3DMark is available for $29.99.
3DMark is the tool for measuring the performance of gaming components on desktop, tablet, notebook, and smartphone. It is available for Android and iOS devices.
- DLSS feature test.
- It supports desktop, notebook, smartphone, and tablet.
- It is available for Windows, Android, and iOS.
Additional Tools for GPU Stress Test:
FurMark is a stress testing tool for GPU. It is a lightweight application and supports Windows OS. It is available for free.
As seen before, HWiNFO64 is used for GPU, CPU, and RAM stress testing. HWiNFO64 can perform the task of Graphics card monitoring. It will provide you the real-time information about any sensor output.
As seen earlier, Cinebench is used for measuring the performance of the CPU as well as GPU. For measuring the performance of Graphics card, Cinebench makes use of a complex 3D scene. It measures the performance in OpenGL mode.
We have reviewed and compared the top Stress testing tools that are available in the market. As we have seen LoadTracer, JMeter, Locust, Blazemeter, and Load Multiplier are the top Stress Test tools.
HWiNFO64 is the tool for CPU, GPU, and RAM stress testing. Cinebench can be used for CPU and GPU stress testing. Prime95 is useful in CPU and RAM stress testing.
PCMark10, BurnIn Test, HeavyLoad, and Intel Extreme Tuning Utility are the top tools for stress testing of PC. CoreTemp, AIDA64, and IntelBurn Test are the best CPU Stress test software.
MemTest86 and Stress-ng are the tools for RAM stress testing. GPU-Z, MSI Afterburner, Valley Benchmarks, 3DMark, and FurMark are the top software for GPU stress testing.
You’ve just bought a new gaming desktop, or a laptop for the office. Maybe you’ve upgraded your computer with a new CPU and motherboard. You might be into overclocking and tweaking your system to make it run as fast as it can. But do you know exactly what you’ve got? Has your machine got the parts it’s supposed to have? How well is that PC actually working? These are really important questions!
That’s why it’s wise to get yourself some programs to check out what’s inside the case and test your rig against other machines or compare them with results shown in hardware reviews.
There’s lots to choose from, but we’ve compiled a list of 21 programs that are great for analyzing or benchmarking your devices — whether you’ve got a mobile phone, laptop or desktop PC running Windows, Linux, or macOS, we’ve got you covered.
The software applications suggested in this article will scan your device and check for information about the hardware contained within. Many of the applications we like and use regularly are completely free, although a few only unlock their full potential with a purchase. In no particular order, let’s get on with the list.
Part 1: Programs to Analyze and Monitor your PC
This little program has been around for 20 years now, and is the work of software developer Frank Delattre, based in France. Modern CPUs contain a set of instructions, that when activated, provide a wealth of information about the processor: brand, model, number of cores, cache levels, and so on.
In addition to the brains of the computer, it also displays similar information about the motherboard and system memory. The original version was pretty basic, but it now contains a lot more detail, and provides an overview of the graphics card, too.
There app also contains a simple CPU benchmark and stress test; you can upload your results onto their website and share your statistics — not bad for something costing exactly zero dollars! CPU-Z is available for Windows PCs only, and there’s a version for Android, too.
Next up is another hardware-specific program, GPU-Z appeared back in 2007, and is the work of the team at Techpowerup. It works in the same way as CPU-Z does, using an instruction set to gather information about the specifications of the graphics card.
There’s no benchmark tool in this one, but it can monitor and log the output from the settings and sensors on the card, such as clock speed, temperature, voltage, and usage. The tool provides a link to Techpowerup’s GPU database, so if you want to know more about your graphics card, hit the Lookup button. GPU-Z is available for Windows only and is free.
The next program in our list takes the opposite approach to CPU-Z as it tells you about everything it possibly can in your computer. There’s so much detail, it separates the information into 3 windows: a system summary, a full report, and active sensor readings.
The summary window is clean and informative, but it’s the full system report that’s the jewel in the crown. While much of the data can be gleaned from Windows’ Device Manager (Win Key + X, then select it from the list), but the data is presented in a far better way, and it’s a lot more comprehensive.
The active sensor readout is just as extensive, including data from the CPU, RAM, motherboard, graphics card, case fans, storage drives, and so on. Want a more visual way of displaying the statistics? Just click on any entry in the readout list and HWinfo will show it as a graph (see here).
HWinfo has been in circulation for over 20 years now, and it gets updated almost every month. And yes, this one will cost you absolutely nothing, too. The developer of the tool, Martin Malík, deserves huge praise for his long-running project. The program supports 32 and 64-bit versions of Windows, and there’s even one for DOS!
If HWinfo shows far too much detail for you, then there’s always Speccy. This little program is made by the developers of CCleaner and it’s essentially a system summary. There is some sensor logging built in, as you can see in the image below: the little green bar graphs actively plot temperature values or amount of RAM, storage, etc used.
Unlike the prior 3 entries in our list of programs, this one doesn’t seem to be updated as often. For example, it’s detecting the Intel Core i7-9700K in the PC used to grab these screenshots as an i7-7700K. Speccy is available for Windows-based computers and is free to use, but if you want the additional features of automatic updates and premium support, it’s currently a $19.95 annual subscription.
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Next in our list is AIDA64. The program is made by Hungarian software developers FinalWire, and it’s been in circulation (in several forms) since 2010. The standard version, AIDA64 Extreme, is very much like HWinfo, but it’s not free. The software comes as a 30-day trial, with various outputs restricted, as shown below.
After this period, the charge is currently $39.95, which enables all of the software’s features, and gives technical support and updates for a year. The program continues to work when the licence runs out, but you’ll need to renew it for continued support.
So why suggest this, when HWinfo seems to the same thing, and it’s free? AIDA64 gets a place in our list because there are versions for Android, Windows Mobile, and iOS, so if you want a comprehensive dig into the guts of a mobile, then this is one way of doing it.
If the thought of paying for a program that monitors the sensor outputs of your hardware leaves you a little cold, then the makers of CPU-Z have you covered. At just over 1.2 MB in size, this tiny little app will be all you need.
HWmonitor is for Windows PCs only, but it’s free, and as a tool for keeping an eye on temperatures, fan speeds, and voltages, it fits the role perfectly. There is a program called HWMonitor for Mac, and the name suggests that it’s a platform port of this tool — unfortunately it’s not.
If you happen to be running a MacBook though, and you want temperature and fan control, check out smcFanControl.
If you’re after a monitoring program for a Linux computer, your options are unfortunately rather limited. However, for 10 years, software developer Michael Möller has been running an open source project to help fill this niche — meet Open Hardware Monitor.
There’s no charge for the software, and it’s available for Windows, too. It looks and works very much like HWMonitor does, but we found Open Hardware Monitor to be a little snappier to fire up and work.
With monitoring covered, what about a specifications summary? Enter stage left: I-Nex. Developed by a small group of programmers in Poland, this Linux-only tool works a bit like CPU-Z does, but also provides additional details about the hard drives, audio system, and operating system structure.
Like many entries in this list, I-Nex is free, but it doesn’t seem to be updated as regularly as the other programs — so if your Linux box is packing the very latest hardware, it might not recognize it properly.
Part 2: Programs to Benchmark and Stress Test Your Hardware
You’ve now got all the monitoring tools you need, but how do you know if your device is performing exactly as it should do? That’s one of the reasons why we benchmark.
There are lots of benchmark programs out there, and plenty of games that have a benchmark feature built into them (some times but not always we use those). Games are great for stress testing your GPU, but for this article we’ve picked 13 pieces of software that are commonly used in hardware reviews or that provide additional testing features that games can’t do.
We’ve not included programs that can monitor and log the frame rate of a game, such as FRAPS or MSI’s Afterburner, as these don’t directly test the computer; however we’ll look at them in a follow up article.
To start the benchmark section, we’re using another long running system analyzing tool: SiSoft Sandra. On face value, it might seem to offer just the same features as HWinfo and AIDA64, but unlike those summary programs, Sandra comes packed with a host of benchmarking tools.
The list of tests is comprehensive, but most of them are specific to a particular task, such as the mathematics involved behind image processing. Fortunately, there is an overall computer test but a word of caution: it runs for a long time, and your computer may well bug out (screen switches off, RGB fans glitch, etc) during the test, as it’s really intensive.
The results page will compare the findings against other benchmarked platforms, as well as provide a breakdown of the individual facts and figures. For system administrators and PC builders, Sandra covers all the bases; it’s not quite so friendly towards the general PC user though.
Sandra is only available for Windows, but the ‘Lite’ version is free and comes with a wealth of tests. The upgrade price to unlock everything is currently a rather steep $69.99, but it can be installed on up to 5 different PCs. There are more versions for professionals and various industry sectors (which require multiple licences and remote monitoring), but their prices are significantly higher, ranging from $199.99, all the way up to $2,195.
If you’re looking for a more general benchmark that tests your Windows PC in a variety of common situations (office applications, video streaming, gaming, etc), then check out PCMark 10. Originally made by Futuremark, in Finland (later acquired by UL), the program has been around in various revisions since 2002.
There is a free ‘Basic’ version that runs a single, overall benchmark test; unlocking the rest of the tests and other features will set you back $29.99; if you’re after even more tests (such as battery life, storage performance, and specific application testing) and greater control over the program, then you’ll need to spend $1,495 every year for the ‘Professional’ edition.
PCMark monitors various things during the test, such as CPU load and temperature, and the results can be uploaded to UL’s database, for comparison with other systems. There is a separate version of PCMark for Android devices.
Another UL benchmark tool and one that’s even more popular, 3DMark appeared nearly 22 years ago and has been one of the standard ways of testing graphics cards — although games have taken over this role, for the most part. This is because it focuses on running intensive 3D graphics loads, using the latest rendering technology supported by modern graphics cards.
There are separate versions for Windows, Android, and iOS, and it comes in a free ‘Basic’ version that has 4 standard tests. The $29.99 ‘Advanced’ product gives you all of the tests, including a looped Stress Test and so-called Feature Tests that analyze certain hardware or rendering capabilities, and the purchase allows you to customize the graphics settings.
The ‘Professional’ edition of 3DMark, aimed at industry specialists, provides greater control over automation and test configuration, also costs $1,495 per year but the only extra test you get is an image quality tool!
3DMark also allows you to upload to a database and compare your PC against other configurations.
3DMark is still popular with the overclocking community and the top scores in the database are often PCs cooled with liquid nitrogen, all clocked to extreme levels (e.g. a 28 core, 3.8 GHz CPU pushed to 5.8 GHz).
Next up is another classic benchmark – the Cinebench tool is actually a very cut down version of a rendering program called Cinema 4D, by Maxon. When you run it, the app uses the CPU to produce a single image, but all done with the latest ray tracing techniques.
The GPU isn’t used in the test, other than to send the output to the monitor, but it’s great for analyzing how well a CPU manages threads and memory. Cinebench can be configured to render the scene using a set amount of threads, starting with just 1 (essentially just one core of the CPU) and then all the way up to 256.
Even if the processor doesn’t support that many threads, the benchmark will still run, as each string of instructions processes a small area of the image – in other words, using more threads just means each rendered section is smaller.
You’ll find Cinebench results in just about every CPU review on the web, but be aware that the older versions don’t run the same test, so the results aren’t comparable. While it’s not a detailed workout for your whole system, there’s nothing better than watching your new multicore processor rip through the scene. It’s totally free, and available for Windows and macOS.
Another popular CPU benchmark that is based on rendering tasks is Corona. This application is based on the Corona Renderer 1.3 and lets you compare the performance of your CPU against a big results database.
Basemark might seem to be a bit of a 3DMark clone (and part of the development team are ex-Futuremark employees) but this graphics test has an important advantage over its Finnish rival: there are versions for Windows, Linux, MacOS, Android, and iOS. So if you’re a professional hardware tester or you just have lots of gear to check out, Basemark GPU might just suit your needs.
For a single rendering test, it’s quite a large download at just under 1 GB; and if you want to explore how well your graphics card handles different types of texture compression, there’s even more to pull down from their servers. Basemark supports 3 different graphics APIs: DirectX 12, OpenGL, and Vulkan, which makes it unique in the market it competes in.
There’s a free version for all platforms, but if you want to unlock the ability to automate the test or configure them outside of what Basemark have set, then you’re probably out of luck. That’s because those features are only available in the Corporate edition and there’s no public price tag for that!
If you’re into overclocking or you’ve just built a new system and you want to test how stable it is, then you’ll want a program to stress test your computer. OCCT (Overclock Checking Tool) fits the bill very nicely, and although it’s only for Windows machines, it can monitor a variety of sensors and hardware levels as it’s running.
There’s not a huge range of tests in the app, but they do exactly what they’re supposed to: load up the CPU, GPU, or RAM and give them a good workout. OCCT is free for general use, although it does ask you for a $1 to get rid of the reminder window, every time you run a test. However, that buck will only last for a month: the makers of the program charge $10 for a year, or $15 for eternity, to do the same thing.
Blender is an open source software for 3D modeling, rendering, animation and post-production. The benchmark is based on this software and was developed by the project’s team to collect hardware test results and make comparisons between system hardware, installations, and to assist developers to track performance during Blender development.
The Blender benchmark is available for Windows, Linux and macOS.
The benchmark can be run online or offline. The benchmark runs Blender and renders production files, with the option to upload your results to the Open Data portal on blender.org.
Another popular benchmarking tool is Geekbench, by Primate Labs. This is has also been around for a long time, but in the past, it’s also had its fair share of negative criticism, notably by key industry figure Linus Torvalds. That said, it was one of the very few testing programs that’s available for all 5 major platforms: Windows, Linux, MacOS, Android, and iOS.
The interface is as basic as they come, and there are no fancy graphics while it’s running. Instead, it quietly runs a series of tests, performing calculations as used in various computational workloads, and displays the results in the form of list of scores.
Like many benchmark tools, the results can be uploaded to the maker’s online database, which means you can compare your findings against other systems or share your own.
Now at version 5.0, Geekbench comes as a free, unlimited ‘trial’ version, that does everything you need it to. For $9.95, though, you receive the capability to manage your online results, and for $99.99 you get to fully configure what and how the program is doing (but this is really aimed at commercial use).
If you’re after another multi-platform tester, then you should consider giving Novabench a look. Available for Windows, Linux, and macOS, this benchmark tool offers CPU, GPU, RAM, and hard drive tests.
While it lacks the graphical fidelity of the likes of 3DMark or the range of analytical tests that Sandra offers, the whole benchmark is short and sweet (it’s much quicker than Sandra, for example) and there’s an online comparison feature, too. Handing over $19 will get you the ‘Pro’ version of the tool, and for that you get temperature monitoring, a battery wear test for laptops, and more configuration options.
Phoronix Test Suite
What if you want to benchmark your computer (Windows, Linux, or macOS-based), but you don’t want to pay out for the full set of features? Or let’s say you’re a IT professional and you need to remotely test and monitor hardware, what then? Well, it’s simple: open-sourced Phoronix Test Suite is what you need.
A word of caution is needed though: Phoronix is not for the general, or even enthusiast, consumer. You need to be very comfortable with using a command-line interface, and understand what’s being tested, and how each benchmark works. But if you are a network manager or a system developer, then you won’t find a better collection of benchmarking tools anywhere else.
The default download comes with a vast number of tests, but additional ones can be sourced through the supporting OpenBenchmarking website.
7-zip is a file compression app, but it just so happens to contain a nifty little testing feature: it creates some junk data and then uses the LZM algorithm to compress and decompress it, without any loss of data. Just go to ‘Tools’, click on ‘Benchmark’, and away you go. Clearly this isn’t a benchmarking tool, but it’s nearly always shown in CPU reviews because it presents a real-world testing scenario.
The compression test is good at seeing how capable the cache of the CPU and the system memory are, in terms of bandwidth and latency; the decompression results are more affected by the CPU’s internal structure and how well it manages random, branching integer operations. So if you’re looking to compare these aspects across different makes and models of processors, 7-zip is handy to use and like Cinebench, it’s results are often shown in CPU reviews.
The best part of the program is that there is no cost, and it’s available for Windows and Linux users.
The next entry in our benchmarking list is actually a collection of programs, all made by Unigine, who have been developing 3D graphics engines for gaming and visualization industries for 15 years. They have 3 graphics benchmarks, but as two of them are a little bit old for modern systems, we’ll just stick with their latest one, called Superposition.
The visuals are nice to watch (some parts of it are pushing 6 million triangles per frame, with 30 active light sources), while the test is running, and like 3DMark, you can set it to render the graphics at a resolution higher than the output monitor’s — it uses a very quick shader routine to scale back down, to fit onto the screen. So if you want to give your GPU a decent workout, then this is a quick way of doing it.
Also like the UL benchmark, you get a score at the end of the benchmark that you can upload and compare. There are versions for Windows and Linux, and the ‘Basic’ edition is free; $19.95 unlocks a stress test that runs through many cycles to see how stable the system is, and allows you to upload your results to Unigine’s leaderboards. If you want more options to running the app and analyzing the results, then you’ll need to get the ‘Professional’ version, which costs a staggering $995, but this really isn’t aimed at general users.
Where Unigine benchmarks focuses on 3D graphics, this one is all about your storage — specifically, how quickly it can read and write data to them, in various ways. CrystalDiskMark is very basic, but there’s nothing wrong with that.
There’s no overall score but the test has a range of settings scenarios, from ‘realistic’ workloads to peak performance checks. The latter is useful for checking that you’ve got everything set up right.
For example, the above results are for a SATA-connected SSD that has claimed sequential read/write figures of 540 and 520 MB/s respectively — the SEQ1M results show that this is pretty much the case.
CrystalDiskMark is free and available for Windows PCs only.
No list article should be without at least one controversial choice, and this one is no different! We’ve picked PerformanceTEST by PassMark, not because it does anything badly, but some people don’t like it because of the way it calculates the score in the CPU tests. Fans on either side of the AMD vs. Intel battle will sometimes claim that their favorite model is being unfairly represented, but that’s just the nature of benchmarking. It’s always best to use more than one program to get a good overview of your system’s capabilities.
PerformanceTEST runs a decent range of CPU, GPU, RAM, and hard drive tests to generate an overall score, and like so many others, this can be uploaded to an online database and compared to other systems. Some of the graphics tests (2D and 3D gets tested) are cool to watch, if just a little on the trippy side.
The actual controversial part to this benchmarking tool is that there is no real fully-free version: you can have a 30-day evaluation copy, but after that time period, you’ll need to spend $29 to unlock the advanced tests and 12 months of free upgrades, and then another $13.50 to maintain the support. Compared to what SiSoftware offer with Sandra 20/20 or UL with PCMark 10, a time-limited trial version seems a bit outdated. That said, it does offer plenty of information about the tests, and if you examine lots of machines and components, going for the full version isn’t too bad of a deal.
Plenty of Tools
So there you go, plenty of recommended software to analyze, monitor, benchmark, and stress test your computing devices. There are many more out there, but we think these will suit almost everybody’s needs. If you think we missed any great one, feel free to point us in the right direction in the comments.
We also think it’s important to point out that benchmarking a computer can often put it under a load that it may not be stable with. So before testing, always ensure you’ve backed up all of your data, and if things start to look very unusual (e.g. very high temperatures, odd pixels on the screen), stop the program immediately.