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You just overclocked your GPU or installed a new hardware component in your PC. Is it working? Benchmarking is a great way to take a snapshot of your PC’s performance, and the best benchmarking software is often free to use.

Whether you want to assess how poorly, or how well, your PC is performing, everyone can benefit from a good benchmark PC Benchmark Tests: What Are They, And Do They Actually Matter? PC Benchmark Tests: What Are They, And Do They Actually Matter? There are loads of technical sites on the Internet that deal in benchmarks - a whole host of charts and numbers for almost any piece of hardware on the market. But what do they mean? Read More . Don’t wait until someone else has to benchmark for you in order to troubleshoot an issue!

General Performance

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 How to Benchmark Your CPU and GPU Like a Pro How to Benchmark Your CPU and GPU Like a Pro 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. Read More to get a rundown of how to accurately benchmark your components.

1. CPU-Z

CPU-Z will essentially provide users with a complete rundown of your PC’s hardware specifications, particularly concerning your CPU.

cpu-z benchmark

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.

2. HWMonitor

HWMonitor not only visualizes the make and model of hardware components in your PC, it also displays certain parameters live.

hwmonitor benchmark

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 Why Did Windows Crash? A Troubleshooting Guide Why Did Windows Crash? A Troubleshooting Guide When Windows crashes, keep calm and reboot. In most cases, it's a singular event. If your computer crashes again, however, consult this step-by-step troubleshooting guide. Bookmark for future use. Read More .

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.

3. SiSoftware Sandra Lite

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.

sisoftware sandra benchmark

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.

4. Speccy

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.

speccy benchmark

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.

5. Fraps

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 How to Safely Overclock Your GPU to Gain FPS How to Safely Overclock Your GPU to Gain FPS Overclocking can make your PC perform at clock speeds one generation above its release. If done right, it's safe and easy. We'll show you how to get a GPU performance boost for free. Read More , it can also be used to screenshot and record game play as well.

CPU Benchmarking

CPU benchmarks not only provide users with data concerning clock speeds and temperatures, 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, since 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.

6. CineBench

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.

7. RealBench

RealBench is another fantastic 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.

realbench benchmark

You can then upload your finding to the RealBench website in order to compare where you stand with other bench marked hardware configurations. My favorite aspect of RealBench is 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 Benchmarking

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.

8. MSI Afterburner

Not exclusive to MSI graphics cards, MSI Afterburner is the best live monitoring GPU tool around. Afterburner allows users the ability to overclock and monitor their software in one program.

msi afterburner benchmark

It tracks every parameter you would need to in order 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.

9. Unigine Suite

The Unigine suite — Unigine Heaven and Valley being the two I would recommend — 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.

You can also try out Unigine’s latest free benchmark software, Superposition, although be warned: Superposition seeks to test the absolute maximum limits of your graphics card.

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 the Right Way

There’s plenty of benchmarking 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 moderate users alike can 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 How to Safely Stress Test Your (Overclocked) CPU, GPU, and RAM How to Safely Stress Test Your (Overclocked) CPU, GPU, and RAM Stress tests can reveal whether or not your system remains stable under heavy loads, particularly if you overclocked your hardware. We show you how stress tests work and pitfalls to look out for. Read More .

Diagnosing, benchmarking, and comparing your PC performance with others is within grasp. Now you can benchmark the right way!

Did you like our list? Do you have any more benchmarking software you’d recommend? Let us know in the comments below! Also, here’s how you can benchmark your Linux computer How to Benchmark Your Linux PC's Performance How to Benchmark Your Linux PC's Performance Benchmark tests are designed to emulate the kind of workload a PC might experience under real-world conditions, such as video processing or gaming. But what tools can you use to benchmark a Linux PC? Read More .

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  1. Nokia 5233 review
    August 18, 2010 at 7:19 pm

    Hey, nice and crisp. I like the way this has been crafted. Keep up the great work.

  2. Anonymous
    June 4, 2010 at 7:15 pm

    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.

  3. Mike
    June 4, 2010 at 8:17 pm

    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.

  4. Mike
    June 4, 2010 at 6:17 pm

    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.

  5. M.S. Smith
    May 31, 2010 at 12:34 am

    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.

  6. Xcellon
    May 30, 2010 at 9:53 pm

    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
      May 30, 2010 at 10:34 pm

      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.

  7. NovaBench
    May 30, 2010 at 8:44 pm

    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.

  8. NovaBench
    May 30, 2010 at 6:44 pm

    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
      May 30, 2010 at 10:30 pm

      Sorry I missed that, I will update.

  9. Nat Jay
    May 30, 2010 at 6:16 pm

    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.