In my case, I am going to discuss some free hardware utilities that are very useful for Windows computers. This will be my contribution for T-SQL Tuesday #127 – Non SQL Tips.
The CPU-Z utility originated in the hardware overclocking community. It was used as a way to help document the properties and clock speed of the processor(s) in your system. This was useful as a way to prove how high you could overclock your processor, cementing your bragging rights.
CPU-Z is still used for that purpose, but it has many other useful benefits, both for professional and enthusiast usage. I have been using this utility for many years. I’ll quickly walk through a few of the tabs in CPU-Z.
The CPU tab gives you the exact processor model and many of it’s specifications. This includes its current clock speed. BTW, if you right-click on the Core Speed value, you will see the current speed for all of your physical cores. You can also change which core’s speed is displayed by default.
The Mainboard tab tells you what brand and model motherboard you have, along with your main BIOS version. This helps you figure out if you need an update.
The Benchmark tab lets you run a very quick synthetic CPU benchmark test. This is broken down into a single thread test and a multi thread test. The single thread test is a measure of how “fast” your CPU is running on a single core. This is different than the multi thread test, which shows the total CPU capacity of all of your cores.
Yes, this is just a quick synthetic test, but I still find it useful for getting a quick sense about whether your system is configured correctly. It also allows you to make a quick comparison to other CPUs.
The GPU-Z is a very similar looking utility that focuses on your graphics card(s). It shows you the exact make and model of each GPU in your system. You can also see a plethora of other interesting information about the GPU and the driver it is using.
The second useful tab is the Sensors tab. The Sensors tab shows information about how fast your card is running, how much power it is using and how hot it is running. This tab also shows the temperature of your CPU.
Note that what you will see on the Sensors tab will vary based on what the GPU supports. A modern discrete NVIDIA GPU will look something like what you see below.
These two utilities are most useful when you use them together. For example, lets say you are running Folding@Home on your machine, and you want to see how it is handling the load.
In this scenario, you can get the clock speed of your processor from CPU-Z, and get the temperatures of your CPU and GPU from GPU-Z. You might discover that your CPU is running hotter than you would like (above 80 degrees C). Most modern CPUs will throttle back as they get too hot.
Because of this, you might decide to get a better CPU cooler, or get better case fans (or just make sure they are installed correctly). Once you make your changes, you can recheck your clock speeds and temperatures to see if things improved or not.
If you have any questions about these utilities, please ask me here in the comments or on Twitter. I am pretty active on Twitter as GlennAlanBerry. Thanks for reading!