The 5 Best Free Benchmark Programs for Windows

hdtunethumb   The 5 Best Free Benchmark Programs for WindowsThere are many tools that promise to optimize or speed up your Windows computer, but how can you make sure the software did what it promised? Confirmation bias can make it very, very hard to simply “eyeball” your computer’s speed because you’ll usually want to confirm that your efforts made an impact. This can be a problem as your computer ages. If you have no objective way of knowing how fast your computer is you won’t be able to figure out which optimizations work and which don’t.

Downloading free benchmark testing software will give you a firm, objective way of judging the performance of your computer. As you make adjustments to your computer you can see how much, or how little, impact the changes have had.

SiSoft Sandra Lite

sisoftsandra   The 5 Best Free Benchmark Programs for Windows

Sandra stands for System Analyzer, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant. It 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. SiSoft Sandra kindly offers a free version of the software.

The benchmark tests available in SiSoft Sandra are jaw-dropping. 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. Chances are that you’ll come across one or two benchmarks in SiSoft Sandra which benchmark hardware you didn’t even know existed.

Another useful feature of SiSoft Sandra is its online reference database. Let’s say, for example, that you decide to benchmark your processor. SiSoft Sandra will benchmark your processor and then compare your performance to five other similar processors to give you a better idea of how an upgrade may or may not help you. This is something that only SiSoft Sandra offers, and it is incredibly useful.

Futuremark’s Suite: 3DMark / PCMark / Peacekeeper

peacekeeperbench2   The 5 Best Free Benchmark Programs for Windows

Futuremark is a software company which offers a wide variety of computer benchmarks considered among the best in the world. Chances are that any review of a desktop or laptop computer you’ve ever read has, at some point, quoted 3DMark or PCMark figures in the performance section.

The latest versions of 3DMark and PCMark are available for free use on a limited basis. Downloading the free version won’t let you custom-tailor any of the benchmark parameters, but that functionality is unnecessary to test your personal computer’s performance after a tweak. 3DMark focuses on gaming, while PCMark focuses on all elements of a computer’s performance.

Another, newer bench worth mention is Peacekeeper. This is a browser benchmark rather than a downloadable app, and it’s mostly used to compare the speed of various browsers. But it can also be used to see if tweaks to a browser, like add-ons, improve or hinder performance.

Unigine Benchmarks

Unigine is a commercial game engine designed to make multi-platform development easy. The company offers free benchmarks rendered in its game engine as a way to promote its product. Currently there are four benchmarks, all of which are entirely free or have a free version.

The most well-known among the four is Heaven, a benchmark that taxes video cards through the use of DirectX 11 techniques and extensive tessellation. Many professional reviewers use the Heaven benchmark as the standard for judging tessellation performance, so there are many online results that provide perspective for those reached by your own computer.

Also of interest is the newer Valley benchmark, a GPU stress-test that uses state-of-the-art graphics to push video cards to their limits. It looks beautiful and also provides excellent hardware feedback via per-frame GPU temperature and clock speed monitoring.

FRAPS

fraps2   The 5 Best Free Benchmark Programs for Windows

One of the most popular free gaming benchmarks in existence, FRAPS is different from all of the other free benchmark testing software on this list because it is the only non-synthetic benchmark. Rather than putting your computer through a series of tests which are designed to judge its overall performance, FRAPS records how your computer actually performs.

FRAPS does this by capturing information about how many frames per second your computer is producing while in games. A higher number of frames per second is always preferable and results in smoother gameplay. FRAPS will work with any game, from World of Warcraft to Crysis 3, and it is capable of both displaying your current frame rates in real-time on your screen and recording the frame rate data to a log file.

FRAPS’s benchmarking functionality is completely free. FRAPS does have a paid version, but the features unlocked in the paid version of FRAPS are not needed to judge performance of your personal computer and mostly focus on recording in-game action.

HD Tune

hdtune   The 5 Best Free Benchmark Programs for Windows

Hard drive performance has become an important part of overall system performance. The latest solid state drives vastly outperform their mechanical predecessors, and there are significant performance gaps between different types and brands of SSD.

HD Tune is designed to tease out these differences through a simulated read/write cycle that measured maximum, average and minimum transfer rates along with access times and burst data rates. The tool provides an objective measurement that can be used to compare different drives, and the benchmark generally needs just a couple minutes to do its work.

As with many other free benchmark testing software programs, a paid version is available, but isn’t needed for the simple before-and-after testing you’d perform to judge your own system.

Which To Choose?

The benchmark you use will depend on what you want to benchmark. The Peacekeeper benchmark is perfect for judging a browser, but not great for judging a system’s overall performance. 3DMark is awesome for graphics, but won’t help if you want to test one specific game. All of these benchmarks have use because they provide different data.

What results did you see when you ran these benchmarks? Let us know in the comments.

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11 Comments -

Nat Jay

I’ve been using 3D Mark and SiSoft Sandra for quite a long time (since about 2002 or so). Both have been valuable benchmarking tools to test my PC configuration for multimedia and gaming.

NovaBench

Actually, NovaBench does have a 3D graphics test, and it plays a large role in the test results.

Although, unlike 3DMark for example, it’s an optional test if your computer isn’t meant for gaming.

M.S. Smith

Sorry I missed that, I will update.

NovaBench

Actually, NovaBench does have a 3D graphics test, and it plays a large role in the test results.

Although, unlike 3DMark for example, it’s an optional test if your computer isn’t meant for gaming.

Xcellon

It should be noted that both nvidia and ati have been a little sketchy when it comes to optimizing their cards to run best on 3dMark benchtests and not real world applications. Hardocp has done several articles over the years pointing out these issues and have actually changed the way they benchmark new hardware because of the sketchiness involved. Not trying to paint either company as “evil” or “cheaters,” but consumers should be aware that graphic benchmarks should not be the only way they express the power of their machines.

M.S. Smith

This is true. Intel also has been accused of this in multimedia benchmarks. It certainly makes sense – 3DMark and other numerical benchmarks are quick-and-easy references, and having a good score in those benchmarks is beneficial.

I recommend anyone looking to heavily benchmark their computer takes a multi-pronged approach. Use all of the programs listed here rather than just one.

M.S. Smith

This is true. Intel also has been accused of this in multimedia benchmarks. It certainly makes sense – 3DMark and other numerical benchmarks are quick-and-easy references, and having a good score in those benchmarks is beneficial.

I recommend anyone looking to heavily benchmark their computer takes a multi-pronged approach. Use all of the programs listed here rather than just one.

Mike

Great article, thanks.

The most useful bench mark for me would be something that would tell if the home PC needed the hard disk defragging, or the temporary files deleting, or more free disk space creating, or if the performance was reduced since last time by the behaviour of a rogue application.

My family often say how slow one of the numerous PCs we have here are running, so it would be very handy to have a tool that would quantify that slowness & indicate if it was worth spending time to try and improve matters, or just remind the family that they need to do a bit of regular maintenance on their PCs.

From your review it sounds as if I might do well to start with Novabench.

Mike

Great article, thanks.

The most useful bench mark for me would be something that would tell if the home PC needed the hard disk defragging, or the temporary files deleting, or more free disk space creating, or if the performance was reduced since last time by the behaviour of a rogue application.

My family often say how slow one of the numerous PCs we have here are running, so it would be very handy to have a tool that would quantify that slowness & indicate if it was worth spending time to try and improve matters, or just remind the family that they need to do a bit of regular maintenance on their PCs.

From your review it sounds as if I might do well to start with Novabench.

Anonymous

If you run windows you should do all of what you mentioned above a couple times a week, and at least once a week to maintain speed. I use and recommend glary utilities ,advanced system care by iobit is another good product. They are both really cheap and the free versions actually work great for the average user.

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