Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Benchmarking - figuring out why your computer sucks...

Benchmarking is the process of testing your computer's speed at executing certain tasks, then comparing the results of the test with results of other computers similar to yours. Whats the point? The point is figuring out where your computer is deficient and how it can be improved.

For example, lets say you notice that when you are editing a photo, your system goes at a snail's pace. Besides knowing what the obvious answer to your problem is, you can also run a benchmark. This process will identify specifically what the problem is by showing you what is making your computer slow. In this case, its most likely RAM, but in other cases, it could be your graphics card, a virus, your HDD, or some other problem that is causing you some distress. Today I want to briefly touch on benchmarking your PC or Mac (I will leave the more detailed "touch" to the dudes in the video below and only if you are REALLY interested in the process) and provide you with some simple options to benchmark your machine.

For Mac: Xbench. I will start with a benchmarker for Macs. Xbench is a staightforward application that tests the following: CPU (one core), Thread (multi-core), Memory, Quartz (graphics), OpenGL (graphics), User Interface, and the HDD. It scores each individual category then averages the scores to give you an overall result. You can then submit the test and compare your results with other computers, either of the same type or other models.

Just Xbench doin' its thang.

The test I just did scored around a 70 which compares well against other machines of the same type.

If you want to see the picture better, click on it. My computer is red. On that test
my computer scored a 71 and compares pretty well against other machines of the same type.

Looking through my results, I noticed the weakest scores came from my graphics card. Really the only area where my computer was deficient was in graphics. If I had the desire and the money, I might consider improving my graphics card to get better performance out of my computer (especially if I played a lot of computer games... which I don't). This is ESPECIALLY applicable to desktop computers that are more readily upgraded than laptops.

For PC: the concept is the same as for Mac. I could do the same process for the PC but I think you get it. For FREE benchmark software, consult Roy Longbottom... the apparent expert in the area of free PC benchmark software (I just typed "free benchmark PC" into Google and it came up with Roy Longbottom and he provides an exhaustive list of free software for benchmarking PC's - thanks Roy - Great surnamea).

The following video provides more detailed insight into what benchmarking is and how it can be used to your benefit (Warning: there are some major nerds in this video, proceed with caution - oh yeah, its like 20 minutes long too, but its informative):

Yes kids, those are REAL LIFE nerds!

1 comment:

Ty & Masha said...

Nice post Rob. Keep up the good work. I need this stuff from time to time and it's a great resource. Thanks man.