The best benchmarking software for PC

You’ve spent months painstakingly planning, researching, and assembling every component of your beloved gaming rig. Now is the time to see what he can do. Just as a virtuoso pianist will practice his scales to see how fast he can perform them, you can also test your PC to see if it is ready for performance levels similar to Carnegie Hall. Today we are going to show you the best software to rate your PC.

What is benchmarking? It involves using specific software to test the speed of each individual component inside your computer, such as your CPU, GPU, and SSD, or even how everything works together. Yes, that’s a lot of science and math. Don’t worry though! It’s usually free and very easy to do, as the benchmarking software will do all of this science and math for you.

In addition to performance, benchmarking can also test temperatures, thermal limiting, and even overall PC stability as a secondary benefit. We’ll discuss more complex details for each of the major components in turn, but here’s a cheat sheet for the types of hardware we’ll cover and their recommended benchmarking software combination. Of course, there are plenty of other benchmarks beyond what we recommend here. These tools will cover all the bases though.

  • Processor – Cinebench R23
  • GPU – Overlay, Shadow of the Tomb Raider
  • HDD / SSD: Crystal disk brand
  • Performance of the whole system: PC Mark 10, 3DMark

Benchmark your CPU with Cinebench R23

Let’s start with the beating heart of your computer. Several CPU benchmarks exist but we recommend that you use the free Cinebench R23 software from Maxon. This widely used tool not only gives benchmarks for multithreaded and single-threaded processor performance, it can also test your system stability at the same time with a 10 minute stress test which helps you gauge your processor temperature when running. it is associated with surveillance. software like HWInfo or Hardware Monitor. They are both free and can provide more in-depth information on thermals, frequencies, and more, although they are not required to use Cinebench successfully.

Thiago Trevisan / IDG

R23 cinema bench.

After running the benchmark, Cinebench lets you compare your scores to other users with the same processor online, a fun way to gauge the gains if you overclock. Another huge benefit of benchmarking your PC is the ability to monitor overall system health, which can be very important in helping you isolate annoying issues. For example, certain BIOS settings on your motherboard (like AMD’s auto-overclocking “PBO” or “MCE” from Intel) can sometimes give you varying performance and higher temperatures. Using Cinebench, you can see the direct effect that options like these have on both raw CPU performance and CPU thermals.

Benchmark your graphics card with Superposition

Ah, the graphics card. It’s the crown jewel of any gaming PC, and it’s only fitting that your GPU is the most rewarding item to compare as well. Dozens of different GPU benchmarks exist, but today we’re going to focus on Unigine’s free Overlay benchmark.

layering Thiago Trevisan / IDG

The Unigine Superposition reference.

We recommend that you start with the “1080p Extreme” benchmark. After execution, it spits out a score that you can compare with other systems. If you overclock your graphics card or change any of its settings, you can go back to that benchmark and see the impact of those changes. Remember: this applies to both the raw performance score as well as the temperatures reached by your setup. Benchmarking your graphics card is a excellent way to see if any changes need to be made to your case’s airflow, or if another component is hampering your performance.

Another great way to compare your GPU is to use it exactly as intended, in games. Several titles include automated built-in benchmarks that make it easy to see what kind of performance to expect in a repeatable situation. Check out our guide to benchmarking your graphics card for a much deeper dive into the subject.

Compare your storage with CrystalDiskMark

With ultra-fast NVMe SSDs becoming more popular (and faster), benchmarking their performance is more important than ever. Benchmarking the different storage drives on your PC also lets you know which ones are running the fastest and should therefore be home to your most critical software. CrystalDiskMark is the go-to storage benchmark that we use in our own SSD tests. Better yet, it’s free.

crystal disc Thiago Trevisan / IDG


Don’t be alarmed by the different numbers and tests. For a quick assessment of your drive’s performance, you can usually read the first line. The speeds on this benchmark are generally close to the rated speed of your drive (in this case, 4993MB / s read, 3277.74MB / s write). Benchmarking your SSD or hard drive can tell you if it is performing to specification. Compare the numbers you get in CrystalDiskMark to what the manufacturer claims the speed should be.

It’s common for SSDs to run a little slower in the real world than the peak performance numbers used by vendors, but if your numbers are seriously wrong then something may be wrong with your SSD or the setup. of your system. Ultra-fast NVMe SSDs may not perform best in an M.2 SSD slot with fewer PCIe lanes, for example, while next-gen PCIe 4.0 SSDs revert to much slower PCIe 3.0 speeds if you do not use a computer compatible disc. Seeing slower-than-expected benchmarks, you know you might want to start digging into your setup or make sure SSD related features aren’t disabled in your motherboard BIOS.

img 0242 Thiago Trevisan / IDG

If one of them is noticeably slower than the others, something is probably wrong.

Pro tip: If you have an SSD or NVMe drive, keep in mind that it may not maintain top speeds during very large file transfers due to maximum cache full at high speed. Once an SSD cache is tapped, speeds can drop dramatically depending on the type of drive. This is why some NVMe drives are so much more expensive than others. Our SSD tests test the performance of large file transfers to identify the subtleties of individual drive performance.

Benchmarking your entire PC for fun and profit

Sure, CPU and GPU gaming benchmarks are fun for enthusiasts, but we also use our PCs as workstations to get things done. With many people working from home, evaluating your overall system performance is an essential test. You can compare your computer to UL’s PCMark 10, which runs a variety of productivity tests to let you know how your PC is performing. It goes through various tests similar to real world scenarios, comparative analysis of driving speeds, work related tasks, video editing, video conferencing. This makes PCMark a great benchmark for seeing how your system is likely to perform in real life, not just on the test bench.

pcmark 10 conference UL

The videoconferencing part of UL’s PCMark 10 benchmark.

If you want to gauge how well your entire PC system is performing in more gaming-oriented tasks, turn to UL’s 3DMark. 3DMark comes with several different scenes designed to stress computers in different ways: Time Spy evaluates the performance of DirectX 12, while Port Royal tests the effectiveness of ray tracing, for example. Time Spy and Firestrike are the must-see scenes to assess your system as they are less specialized. Running these scenes will provide a benchmark score for your entire system and individual things like GPU and CPU performance. Additionally, UL also maintains an online Hall of Fame dashboard to see where you land with your PC setup.

Both UL benchmarks cost money for the full package, but PCMark and 3DMark also each offer a Base Edition with limited testing included for free. Simply select the “Download Demo” button on Steam rather than purchasing the software directly if you wish to test it.


There you go, now you can compare the most important components of your PC with some of the best (mostly free) software available. Use this knowledge to spot any potential performance or stability issues in your platform, and as a basis for determining how the upgrade will benefit you in the future.

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