CPU Benchmarking

Category: Hardware

How fast is your computer's central processing unit (CPU) compared to others? That's one question that CPU benchmarking can help you answer. Another good question is whether your particular CPU is performing up to manufacturer's specs; CPU benchmarking can answer that one too. Here's how to test your own CPU…

CPU Benchmarking

How to Run a CPU Benchmark Test

In computing, a "benchmark" is the act of testing the performance of a device using one or more standard test programs. Each test is run several times, usually, to determine an average benchmark performance score. There are many CPU benchmark tests that are widely used, so their test results are generally accepted as valid and meaningful. A good CPU tester will use standard tests and not some unknown program of his own writing.

CPU benchmark software is often run all by itself in RAM, without even the computer's operating system loaded. That way, background processes peculiar to Windows, Linux, Mac OS, etc., do not affect the CPU speed test results. The CPU benchmark software comes with its own mini-operating system, just enough standard software to get the computer running and load the benchmark program.

Consequently, CPU benchmark software may have to be burned to CD or copied onto a bootable USB flash drive. Then you would restart your computer and select the alternate boot device. The computer will boot from CD or USB drive instead of loading the operating system from your hard drive.

You can select the tests you wish to run and the number of times each test will run. Then just start the test and go do something else for a while - perhaps an hour or so, depending on what you selected. When the tests are finished you will find a log or report of their results. Then you can make a benchmark comparison.

Many benchmark programs ask permission to transmit your test results and information about your CPU to a central repository. There's nothing risky about doing so and it helps build a large database of real-world test results to make benchmark comparisons more meaningful. You may find these CPU Benchmark Charts helpful when comparing the relative speeds of different Intel and AMD processors.

Free Software for CPU Benchmarking

Free CPU benchmark software is available from several sources. NovaBench is a long-established freeware favorite that you can try. Commercial CPU benchmark software typically runs more tests of a sophisticated nature. Its useful for diagnosing chip design flaws and failures in a professional environment. But if you're just wondering how fast your CPU is compared to similar and other models, there is no need to pay for benchmarking software.

Computer and CPU vendors often hype the performance of their machines on various "gold standard" benchmark tests, claiming this proves their gear is better. Beware of such claims. It is all too easy to tune a test machine to perform optimally on one aspect of a benchmark test suite, then conveniently ignore how poorly the machine did overall.

Another caveat about CPU benchmark tests is that they do not, generally, measure quality of service. They measure raw speed, but not how smoothly data is processed; that is, whether a movie will play in jerks and fits or a game will be realistically responsive.

Do you have something to say about CPU benchmarking? Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "CPU Benchmarking"

Posted by:

Richard Kavanagh
06 Jul 2010

The only benchmark that makes any sense is to try the programs that you will be using.

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