How fast is your computer? Sure, it might have a Core i7 processor and 32 GB of RAM, but how fast is it really? Benchmarking tools are the best way to quantify just that, testing your Windows PC for gaming, overall performance, and a whole lot more. They help you know what your computer is good for (and how to upgrade it).
Why you should benchmark
There are a few reasons why you might want to benchmark your PC. If you want to upgrade your system, it is important to know exactly how well your computer is currently performing. It is especially helpful if you can compare your score with other systems and components to find out which parts may need an upgrade. Or maybe you already have a few computers lying around and you need to know which one is the best ̵
Gaming is another common motivation for benchmarking, as modern games can take the toll on even sophisticated systems. Having a rough estimate of how well your computer will perform under heavy loads can indicate how well your computer can handle certain games, especially if you plan to adjust the resolution and graphics quality.
Best Benchmark Practices
When it comes time to actually run tests on your PC, there are a few precautions to take first. Make sure to close all open programs on your PC as software eating up your memory or processor will affect the score. And restarting your PC before starting a test can also keep your computer running at its best.
Also, make sure that the room you are testing in is not too hot, as an overheated computer will perform worse than under ideal conditions. While we’re not saying you should just crank up the AC to benchmark your PC, waiting for a cooler part of the day (or running the test at night) is a good idea in warmer climates or seasons.
What to Look for in Benchmarking Software
There are a few more things we want to discuss before we get to the actual benchmarking tools.
- Focus: As we’ve already discussed, there is more than one reason to benchmark your PC, and as such, more than one way to design a benchmark program. Certain software may target specific usage scenarios, such as gaming versus running standard applications. That’s why it’s important to determine why you want to benchmark your system so that you can choose the best benchmarking tool for your needs.
- Components: Not every benchmark test measures all components of your computer. Some are focused on the processor (CPU), some are focused on the memory, and others on the graphics card (GPU). We will be sure to list which components each software tests.
- Pricing: Finally, this list includes both free and paid programs. You shouldn’t assume that just because a benchmark test is free is bad, as some tests are more advanced than others and “better” is subjective to the scope of the test. Depending on what you are testing, simpler but still intensive tests are all you need. We list how much each program costs along with whether or not there is a free version of paid software.
When it comes to measuring overall computer performance, PCMark10 is a safe bet. It is a well-designed tool that can measure the overall processing power, storage speed and even battery life of your PC’s laptops. PCMark10 is also easy to use, so even if this is your first dive into benchmarking, you shouldn’t have too much time to figure it out.
PCMark10 has a free version for you to try that should work well enough for most general evaluations. Advanced benchmark tests and customizable tests are missing, so if you want those features, you need PCMark10 Advanced Edition, which costs $ 29.99.
Gaming performance: 3DMark
From the same company as PCMark10, 3DMark focuses specifically on gaming and GPU performance. You can see in real time how well your computer is handling advanced 3D graphics and things like ray tracing, and you can receive detailed statistics after the test is complete. Whether you want to play older titles, modern games or future releases, 3DMark will give you a good idea of how capable your machine is. 3DMark even offers multiple test levels ranging from normal to ultra settings.
3DMark has a free version available with some basic tests, but if you want more intensive benchmarks, you need 3DMark Advanced Edition, which costs $ 29.99.
UserBenchmark is a simple, free and versatile benchmarking tool that can test every part of your computer, from the processor to the RAM. It’s a great tool if you’re considering an upgrade and want to know which components of your PC are matte. You can compare your score against different components using the UserBenchmark database to see which components give you the greatest performance gains. It’s also a great site to visit if you’re planning on building a PC and want to see the fastest parts out there.
Since it’s free, UserBenchmark is a great place to start if you’re new to benchmarking and just want a general overview of your PC’s measurable performance.
A huge database: Geekbench 5
If you want to be able to compare your benchmark scores against hundreds of different devices and components, Geekbench 5 can do just that. It can run various tests, from general computing to more specified processing tasks. You can then upload your results to the Geekbench database, which is full of reports from computers, phones, tablets and more. You can compare specific parts or your entire build to get a complete picture of how your PC is doing.
A few versions of Geekbench 5 are available. The free version includes basic tests and uploads, the $ 14.99 version allows you to manage your results offline, and the $ 99.99 “Pro” version includes several advanced features, such as the ability to create custom benchmark tests .
Pushed to the limit: Cinebench
Cinebench has one goal: push your PC to the limit and see what happens. This is a trusted, professional tool that you can install for free and see what your computer is really capable of. Cinebench is specifically focused on the CPU, so if you’re testing for gaming performance, this is not recommended. However, if you want to know how strong your processor really is, Cinebench ensures that every core is thoroughly tested to examine the performance of your CPU in detail.
The last item on our list is not a single program, but rather a general tip. Quite a few PC games come with benchmarks by default, so you may not need anything extra to start testing now. A few of the more popular examples of this are games like Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor and Shadow of the Tomb Raider, but a good chunk of modern games comes with this, from Sid Meier’s Civilization VI to Horizon Zero Dawn.
The usefulness of these tests is limited as each game is optimized differently, but it can still be good to see how well your computer handles certain games, especially if you already own games with these benchmark tools in them.