Performance software tools
Getting the best from your system means knowing how it’s performing
If you want to get your PC running as fast as possible you can’t just play it by ear, you need to benchmark and test then pin your hardware to its maximum capabilities. It’s not just a process for speed freaks, though Finding ways to use hardware more effectively is an essential part of maintaining any system, and that’s why we’ve put together this list of essential benchmarking tools to help you tweak and improve your system.
A slow-down in Windows’ boot speed is one of the most difficult problems to explain and repair because causes can be varied and unintuitive. If you want to track the effects that various settings, configurations and installations might have on your system’s boot time, you need a program like BootRacer.
Rather than try and make you figure out what’s slowing your system, BootRacer provides constant monitoring of boot times so you see when something has affected it as soon as that happens. It’s compatible with multiple versions of Windows, from Windows 2000 and XP right up to Windows 10. and can be downloaded from its website or through the Windows store In both cases it’s free for non-commercial use. and the requirements are minuscule – less than 10MB of disk space.
Once installed, BootRacer tracks your boot time and displays it after each launch – with its own impact on a system being negligible. While it doesn’t have a huge range of features, it does focus well on its main task – boot time calculations automatically exclude any password timeouts, ensuring accurate and useful reportage of the Total Boot Time, and the details are logged to both its own ‘History Report’ and the standard Windows Event Log, so you can check them however you prefer. It’s undeniably basic, but it’s designed to be an analysis tool rather than help you speed up your boot times.
PassMark PerformanceTest 8.0
www. passma rk.com/products/pt.htm
PassMark PerformanceTest is a whole suite of tools designed to thoroughly benchmark every major aspect of a PC’s performance.
It’s fast, easy to use and configure, and boasts a huge range of tests that give dear, objective results which can be easily compared with other users.
We’re not exaggerating when we say it tests almost everything. There are five benchmarking profiles, which run thirty-two separate tests between them, as well as seven ‘advanced testing’ windows for running custom benchmarks. As well as 2D graphics, 3D graphics and CPU operations, it also evaluates disks, memory and more obscure things like CD/DVD performance and network speeds – even the physics performance of your graphics card gets a workover.
Results can be aggregated into a single PassMark Rating you can compare with similar systems, while a built-in ‘baseline’ result allows you to see how your system performs against a fictional average build. You can also save your latest results as the new baseline in case you want to try out some tweaks or check the performance increase caused by an upgrade.
With so much going on, it’s probably not much of a surprise to learn that it all comes with a cost – after the 30-day evaluation period, it will cost you $27. which isn’t going to break the bank If you only want to use one piece of software from this list, this is the one you should go for.
AIDA64 Extreme Edition
We’re not clear on what it is that makes this version of AIDA64 ‘Extreme’ (though the only alternatives are expensive ‘engineer’ and ‘business’ versions) but. that aside, it’s hard to criticise this allpurpose benchmarking software. Designed as a streamlined Windows diagnostic and benchmarking tool, AIDA64 Extreme Edition can assist with overclocking, hardware error diagnosis, stress testing and sensor monitoring. It simultaneously keeps track of the condition of your CPU. memory, and disk drives, and is compatible with all versions of Windows.
The analysis tools are sufficiently thorough for domestic or enthusiast use.
It allows for a number of CPU processing benchmarks, tests on RAM bandwidth and latency, and the transfer speeds of any attached disk – whether it be a mechanical drive, a solid state drive (internal or USB-based) or an optical drive.
Stress tests for each type of hardware give your components a proper going over, and there’s even one for the GPU as well, which will please the faction of gamers constantly looking to tweak their system to optimum performance. Also, if you’ve got the necessary sensors in your system, AIDA64 will monitor temperature, voltages, power drain and fan speeds, and this information can be displayed in a number of areas, from the system tray to a makeshift OSD.
The software sets itself up well as a one stop shop for benchmarking. It’s clear interface and wide range of tools give you everything you need to get started with benchmarking. Ironically, as it’s Ideal for beginners, the price ($40) could arguably be a little high for newbies.
Unigine Heaven Benchmark 4.0
If you want a 3D benchmarking suite that’ll test your graphics card to the limit, but won’t demand similar from your wallet, Unigine Heaven 4.0 is the one to go for. Designed as a stress-tester, first-and-foremost, for testing the stability of a GPU, it’s also an excellent choice for overclockers who want to check that they’ve provided adequate cooling performance and need to guarantee stability when playing games. If your hardware can survive Heaven’s benchmarks, it can survive anything!
The tests are non-synthetic, and similar to 3DMark in that they involve interactive navigation of a genuine, fully rendered 3D world designed for the purpose of testing cards to their fullest extent. The benchmarking takes place entirely in the GPU, so there’s no chance of the processor or memory influencing the results, and tests can be tweaked to place the emphasis on individual graphical features. It also supports multi-monitor setups and stereographic 3D. There’s also a software-only rendering mode that can be used as a reference.
It* definitely one for enthusiasts, but beginners may still get something from it as long as they’ve got a glossary on hand to look up any terms they don’t understand.
As graphics benchmarking software goes, it suffers from placing such a heavy focus on gaming when there are other things people might use a graphics card for. It’s definitely the best example of a graphics testing suite around, however.
In fact, we’d recommend Heaven even if it wasn’t free. The fact that it is just makes it all the more attractive over its rivals. There are two more advanced commercial versions available – a $14.95 advanced edition (which you might want to try) and a $495 pro version (which, er, you probably won’t), mm