Keep your PC running in peak condition with SiSoftware Sandra 2013

sisoftwareLet’s face it.  The economy really stinks.  With economic conditions so lousy, it’s not surprising that PC sales are down. The best way to save money from a computing standpoint is to keep your computer running well. One of the best ways is to have a good diagnostic program like SiSoftware Sandra 2013. It’s a diagnostic utility for Windows.

SiSoftware Sandra is a 32- and 64-bit Windows system analyzer.   It includes benchmarking, testing and listing modules. It tries to go beyond other utilities to show you more of what is really going on under the hood so you draw comparisons at both a high and low-level in a single product. You can get information about the CPU, GPGPU, chipset, video adapter (GPU), ports, printers, sound card, memory, network.  You can even get information on Windows, .NET and Java internal components installed on your machine.

SIS-01

SiSoftware Sandra has a great deal to offer.  The free version is good, but the paid versions offer more. The biggest problem it has is that it’s very technical, and most computer users, aren’t.  However, if you have a little bit of computer aptitude, you can learn a lot about your PC; and you can learn what to check when things start misbehaving.

If you can, create reports when things are running well.  When you begin having problems with your PC, you can use the “known good” information and compare it to the current, not so good information. It may help you figure out what’s broken.  However, you’re going to likely need to get smart about your PC’s components before you can take full advantage of the app.

download SiSoftware Sandra 2013

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Test your PC out for gaming capabilities with 3DMark Vantage

Gaming seems to be the stuff right now.

If you’re a serious PC advocate, whether on a Mac, a PC or a Linux box, you’re most likely doing some kind of gaming. This is one of the reasons why I really like tools like 3DMark Vantage. It’s a graphics benchmarking tool for Windows.

3DMark Vantage is the industry standard benchmark tool for DirectX 11-based gaming PCs. It includes two graphics tests, two CPU tests and six feature tests. 3DMark Vantage is one of the best ways to consistently and reliably test DirectX 11 with real world, game-like loads.

The Basic Edition is free.  The Professional Edition unlocks all of the app’s features including custom testing options, unlimited test runs and priority customer support. A commercial license enables you to use the benchmark for business purposes, including testing for performance, standards compliance and stability.  For research and development including component evaluation, burn-in testing and competitor analysis and for promotional use including trade shows, consumer events, overclocking competitions and other sales and marketing activities, 3DMark Vantage is a must have tool.

The app’s benchmark presets offer a convenient way of scaling the load to provide relevant results for all levels of hardware. These settings represent more advanced levels of visual quality, and a score is produced when running the tool when completed. That score is calculated differently for each preset, and scores are not comparable across different presets.

download 3DMark Vantage

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Capture your gaming experience with Fraps

Although I have access to all kinds of software, finding a proper one for my personal use becomes an annoying thing sometimes. That’s maybe because I tend to notice only the bad things from a software or maybe because I know that there should be a better one undiscovered yet. One of these examples, that really surprised me was Fraps. A tiny but very powerful software.

With the help of Direct X and OpenGL technology, this software can capture in realtime any video source from your desktop, can capture screenshots in BMP, PNG, JPG and TGA formats and can be used also as a benchmarking software. Fraps can save your work into any folder, without any prompting message or any preview screen. This can be done by using hotkeys which can be activated from the main interface. You won’t feel anything wrong in the game while you make these screenshots.

The same goes with the video capturing. This represents the best part of this application. The game will not slow down a moment (unless you have a really poor system), and the resulting video file has an astonishing quality. All this while I was running a game at a resolution of 1280×1024. The reason for this is because the application won’t use any compression tool for capturing the video. It will be saved in a pure AVI format without compression. You won’t get any framed clips and the sound will match the image perfectly.

Fraps 3.5 adds the much requested feature to allow AVI movie files larger than 4 gigabytes. Fraps will now write hybrid OpenDML/AVI files and allow large movies on NTFS drives. There’s still an option to split at 4 gigabytes for legacy AVI 1.0 support.

Fraps can be used also as a Benchmarking Software, by monitoring the frames of any game. The FPS counter can be displayed on the screen along with the game. The statistics can be saved on your disk for further analyzes and reviews.

Please be aware that the minimum system requirements have changed in Fraps 3.5.0. We now require a CPU with SSE2 instructions (Pentium 4 & above). Windows XP or higher is also now required. If you have an older system (Win2K or non-SSE2 CPU) you can still download the previous Fraps 3.4.7 release from the Members Area.

download Fraps 3.50

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Push your PC to its limits with AIDA64 and find out how stable it is

When it comes to personal computers, facing some problems is inevitable. Sometimes the problems are quite simple and they are mostly caused by your Operating System, other software or nasty things such as viruses, malware or spyware. But what if you suspect there is a problem with one of those different components that are connected to your motherboard? This is the case when you need to test your hardware with one of those tools out there which makes your computer run at its fastest possible speed for an extended period of time and then checks for any errors that occur. My favorite software with this purpose is AIDA64 Extreme Edition.

AIDA64 Extreme Edition is a streamlined Windows diagnostic and benchmarking software for home users and provides a wide range of features to assist in overclocking, hardware error diagnosis, stress testing, and sensor monitoring. It has unique capabilities to assess the performance of the processor, system memory, disk drives and now with the release of version 2, it offers a fully automatized online update, AVX-optimized 64-bit benchmarks for the upcoming Intel Core i7 “Sandy Bridge-E” processors, and further extends its exhaustive hardware database with Western Digital hard disk drives to cover 133,000 devices total.

AIDA64 is compatible with all current 32-bit and 64-bit Microsoft Windows operating systems, including Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 and you can get it from here.

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Test your computer’s power capacity with BenchTown

Auslogics have released a free benchmarking tool that can test your computer power capacity and publish the results on their online service. All you have to do is to install the BenchTown client program and register for free on BenchTown.com. There’s nothing new here, but the way Auslogics designed BenchTown and its online service really impressed me. Everything is user-friendly an requires little to be done from the user point of view.

All you have to do in order to start test your machine is to push the Rate button. The whole process is automatically and takes about 4 – 5 minutes to be completed. The application uses standard stress calculations for each main component of your PC, (CPU, RAM, HDD, VGA). The results will be displayed in the same interface along with an overall mark similar to what 3D Mark has to offer.

Your can also compare your results online with your friends on the BenchTown service. If you don’t have any friends registered on this community, just invite them. You can also view overall charts based on community’s results regarding the type of processor they use, what are the most popular VGA models used, etc.

With BenchTown the testing process becomes simple and fun to analyze even for a casual user. The overall image of his system is no more an enigma due to the comprehensive results and the user-friendly way BenchTown displays them.

download Auslogics BenchTown

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Gather information and tune your hard drive to function at peak performance with HD Tune

Your hard drive is the life blood of your computer. When it goes bad, the whole thing goes down. Keeping it healthy can be an involved and painful process without the right tools. HD Tune is the right tool for that job.

HD Tune works with all kinds of drives, internal or external, spinning media or SSD, USB sticks, etc. With it, you get a complete picture of how your PC’s hard drive is performing, and can even check its S.M.A.R.T. status as well as perform various maintenance activities on it.

Read the full review | Download HD Tune

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Futuremark announces PCMark 7

Futuremark, the developer of the world’s most popular benchmarking software, announced PCMark 7, a new benchmark offering complete PC performance analysis for Windows 7. PCMark 7 includes 7 separate test suites combining more than 20 individual workloads covering storage, computation, image and video manipulation, web browsing and gaming. However, a release date has not been announced yet.

“Hardware innovations like solid state drives (SSDs), and new form factors such as netbooks and tablets are greatly increasing the range of PC performance available to businesses and home users,” said Jani Joki, Director of PC Products and Services at Futuremark. “With so much choice available, PCMark 7 is an essential and easy to use tool to test and compare PC performance accurately and reliably across a wide range of usage scenarios.”

PCMark 7 provides a set of 7 suites for measuring different aspects of PC performance with a high degree of accuracy. Overall system performance is measured by the PCMark Suite. The Lightweight Suite measures the capabilities of entry level systems and mobility platforms unable to run the full PCMark suite. Common use performance is measured by the Entertainment, Creativity and Productivity scenario suites. Component performance is measured by the Computation and Storage hardware suites. The Storage suite is ideal for testing SSDs and external hard drives in addition to the system drive.

For more info please visit http://www.pcmark.com | Image source: http://www.pcmark.com

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