How Fast (or slow) Is Your Computer? Benchmark it!

Category: Hardware

How fast is your computer's CPU (the “brain” or central processing unit) compared to others? That's one question that CPU benchmarking can help you answer. Another good question is whether or not 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, with free software. Read on...

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 sometimes 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. Other benchmark tools run without requiring the computer to be restarted.

CPU Benchmarking tools

Typically, 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 - anywhere from a few minutes to an hour, depending on what you selected. In addition to testing the CPU performance, some benchmark programs will also test the speed of your hard drive, RAM memory, video hardware, and other subsystems. When the tests are finished you will find a log or report of their results. Then you can make a benchmark comparison.

Some 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. You can search for your CPU model, or see how various, High-End, Mid0Range or Low-End models compare, speedwise.

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 on your Windows, Mac or Linux computer. Novabench installs and runs without the need to reboot your computer. In under two minutes, it will give you a performance score for your CPU, GPU, Memory and Disk. (The Pro and Commercial versions will run additional tests.) You can click a link in the report to post your scores online, and see how they compare to others.

Other benchmarking software options include Passmark PerformanceTest (Free Trial / Windows, Linux, Mac, Android, iOS); Geekbench 6 (Free Trial or $10 for license / Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS); Cinebench 2024 (Free / Windows, MacOS)PCMark 10 (Windows / Free Basic Edition / Advanced Edition $30), and CrystalDiskMark (Free / Windows 10/11).

Paid 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. In practice, computer performance will depend on the quality of your Internet connection, installed memory, how many programs are open, and other factors.

Regular benchmark testing will help you track performance changes over time, which can be useful to confirm whether or not your computer is running slower as the years go by.

Here's one final word about benchmarking. The speed of your CPU and other components is not the end-all of computer performance. Unless you're a gamer or graphic artist, a mid-range computer with sufficient RAM memory will seem plenty fast. And for most home users, the speed of your computer often boils down to how fast your internet connection can load web pages, videos and other content. And that may have little to do with the CPU.

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

Ask Your Computer or Internet Question

  (Enter your question in the box above.)

It's Guaranteed to Make You Smarter...

AskBob Updates: Boost your Internet IQ & solve computer problems.
Get your FREE Subscription!


Check out other articles in this category:

Link to this article from your site or blog. Just copy and paste from this box:

This article was posted by on 13 Jun 2024

For Fun: Buy Bob a Snickers.

Prev Article:
Geekly Update - 13 June 2024

The Top Twenty
Next Article:
Can a Computer Virus Destroy Your Hard Drive?

Most recent comments on "How Fast (or slow) Is Your Computer? Benchmark it!"

Posted by:

Ernest N. Wilcox jr. (Oldster)
17 Jun 2024

Sadly, none of these benchmark tools tell me how my PC compares with all other benchmarked PCs (e.g.: my computer is faster/slower than what percentage of all others).

Ernie (Oldster)

Posted by:

17 Jun 2024

@Ernie: Use UserBenchmark from When you run the test, it will provide you a report of your computer and will compare against others.

Post your Comments, Questions or Suggestions

*     *     (* = Required field)

    (Your email address will not be published)
(you may use HTML tags for style)

YES... spelling, punctuation, grammar and proper use of UPPER/lower case are important! Comments of a political nature are discouraged. Please limit your remarks to 3-4 paragraphs. If you want to see your comment posted, pay attention to these items.

All comments are reviewed, and may be edited or removed at the discretion of the moderator.

NOTE: Please, post comments on this article ONLY.
If you want to ask a question click here.

Free Tech Support -- Ask Bob Rankin
Subscribe to AskBobRankin Updates: Free Newsletter

Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved
About Us     Privacy Policy     RSS/XML

Article information: AskBobRankin -- How Fast (or slow) Is Your Computer? Benchmark it! (Posted: 13 Jun 2024)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved