- Stress tests and benchmarks are essential for gauging overall performance and stability of a PC, especially when overclocking.
- Prime95 is a powerful stress testing tool for CPUs that can identify unstable overclocks.
- FurMark is a popular GPU stress test that quickly detects faults in GPU overclocks.
- Memtest86 is the best tool for testing system memory and identifying faulty RAM modules.
- Using the right stress testing tools can help troubleshoot system issues and identify stability problems.
What do you need to stress test your PC? When it comes to building and testing your computer, using stress tests and benchmarks is a great way to gauge overall performance. If you’re planning on performing any sort of overclocking, it can help to find out if it is stable. So, having a few of these tools on hand is a great way to keep an eye on your system health.
Today’s guide is going to take a look at some essential tools for the PC user. Some of these are fantastic utilities that I use regularly for troubleshooting systems. Having good stress testing tools goes a long way in keeping your system operational, believe it or not. So, let’s dive right in and take a good look at the stress-testing utilities of my personal choice.
- Best CPU Tester: Prime95
- Best CPU Compute Tester: OCCT
- Best GPU Stress Test: FurMark
- Best GPU Runner-Up: 3DMark
- Best Memory Tester: Memtest86
Best CPU Tester: Prime95
One of the best ways to stress your CPU is computations. Prime95 is one of the best ways to stress test your PC. This free piece of software relies on Mersenne Primes and needs a powerful CPU to crunch numbers. Prime95 will readily let you know if an overclock or current configuration is unstable. As far as stress tests go, this one will bring even the most powerful processors to their knees.
The only real drawback to using Prime95 is the length of time of a test. You essentially run the software until come across a fault or you’re bored. There isn’t much in the way of diagnostic information. If you have a faulty overclock, the system will hit a failure point or blue screen instead.
|It’s an easy and free way of testing CPU overclocks.
|There’s no real feedback when using it.
|The test is available for every major operating system.
|It lacks diagnostic information.
Best CPU Compute Tester: OCCT
OCCT is a comprehensive suite to stress test your PC. To this end, you have some robust tests for just about any function you can imagine. Where OCCT excels is in testing both CPU and GPU compute functionality. It isn’t a big secret that huge numbers and computations are a great way to stress test your PC. After all, their main function is to process numbers at the heart of it all.
OCCT isn’t free software, but it is certainly worth considering. If you’re running any sort of business where you’re building or servicing computers, it provides a great overview of the various functions of a computer. The only area where it doesn’t have any reasonable means of monitoring is when looking at memory and storage tests.
|It’s a fantastic way of testing CPU and GPU functionality.
|This is not a free utility.
|It comes with a robust suite of monitoring and benchmark utilities.
|OCCT doesn’t come with any way of testing your memory.
Best GPU Stress Test: FurMark
Stress testing your GPU overclock is easily handled by FurMark. Chances are if you’ve looked up any sort of benchmarks on a piece of hardware in the last decade, FurMark has been mentioned at least once. This is for good reason, as this is a great way to stress test your PC. I use it for checking stable overclocks when handling my GPU. If there is a fault, FurMark will find it pretty quickly.
The only real drawback is that you’ll need a Windows system to run it. It also doesn’t use any of the other graphical APIs in use. Most games and software aren’t running OpenGL on Windows, so it might not reveal everything if you’re having DirectX errors. Still, for free, it’s hard to argue against its efficacy.
|It is a free and lightweight application.
|It doesn’t test for Vulkan or DirectX.
|This allows you to quickly test the stability of your GPU’s overclock.
|FurMark is only available for Windows computers.
GPU Runner-Up: 3DMark
3DMark has been an industry standard for years. If you don’t mind spending $35, then you’ve got one of the most robust ways of testing your GPU and CPU. 3DMark isn’t a comprehensive look at these components, but it is one of the best ways to stress test your PC. 3DMark comes with a variety of different tests, which test all sorts of functions when it comes to your computer.
Sadly, it is Windows-only for computers. If you’re looking to benchmark things like a Mac or Linux system, you’ll have to look elsewhere. 3DMark does get some extra points for running on mobile platforms, however. You can’t do much in the way of overclocking a tablet or a phone. However, knowing how it’ll perform against flagship devices is a fantastic option.
|It comes with multiple tests for GPUs and CPUs alike.
|You’ll have to pay to use the software.
|3DMark is a fast way of testing the overall performance of a computer.
|It’s not available for Mac or Linux computers.
Best Memory Tester: Memtest86
Often, the fastest way to diagnose a system’s issues is to test the memory. Memtest86 isn’t going to be a foolproof utility for checking the performance of your system’s memory. However, it is a great way of finding out if you have a faulty RAM module or if your memory overclock is performing as intended. This is a free utility, but it does require you to boot into Memtest86 to use it.
When it comes to testing your RAM, Memtest86 is the best of the best. It might not run natively in your operating system, but this bootable utility is great for isolating RAM issues. If there is an issue present, it will let you know much faster than using built-in utilities on Windows or Linux alike.
|This is the only real, proven way of testing your memory.
|It has to be run from a bootable USB device.
|It runs on ARM and x86 PCs.
|Memtest86 requires a bit of know-how to read the system logs.
What to Know When You Stress Test Your PC
There are quite a few things to keep in mind when you stress test your PC. Presumably, if you’re at this step in the process, you have some degree of technical prowess. Using tools to stress test your PC is going to have two major net benefits. You’re either testing overall performance, or seeing if a system is stable.
Overall system stability is a great deployment of stress testing utilities. If you have done any sort of tweaks like undervolting or overclocking, a stress test is going to show any flaws in your setup. Don’t panic if the system crashes, that at least lets you know. Make sure to make notes of your setup and any test results. If you’ve hit a system failure, that means you’re going to need to work on your tweaks.
Using Stress Tests to Troubleshoot
Sometimes, it isn’t enough to stress test for performance or stability. You might be using stress testing tools to check an issue your system is having. When you’re getting blue screens, sometimes the cause of something like a DPC Watchdog or video driver crash can be some obscure issue. As such, you might want to stress test your PC to see where the issue lies.
This is cheaper than going to a repair shop and letting them run the same utilities. It could just be that a configuration isn’t giving you the stability you need. More seriously, it could also let you know if there is a larger underlying issue with a RAM module or one of your other components.
Picking the Right Tools to Stress Test Your PC
Picking the right tools to stress test your PC is going to come down to what function you’re targeting. You wouldn’t use something like Memtest86 to test the stability of your GPU, after all. While this might seem a bit daunting at first glance, you stress test specific components. Targeting the whole batch isn’t advised, as you want to keep things isolated if you can help it.
Using the Best Tools to Stress Test Your PC: What It’s Like
Using the right tools to stress test your PC is going to bring your system to a crawl. There is no way around it. These tools simulate or place fairly massive workloads on your components to test their overall performance. When using these tools, make sure to take notes about where issues arise or any diagnostic readouts you get from the software. With any luck, you’ll become intimately aware of the hardware you’re running on your system in no time flat.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©MDV Edwards/Shutterstock.com.