If you are one of those people that say “Huh?” when someone talks about performance benchmarking, fear not. It isn’t that complicated. In a nutshell benchmarking is a series of tests that are run on your machine to determine its performance. The performance is usually a relative score that you can use to compare with other machines. Windows 7 even comes with its own built in tool and assigns an index for every system it is installed in.

There are many free benchmarking applications available for download such as:

  1. SuperPI
  2. 3DMark/PC Mark
  3. Windows System Assessment
  4. NovaBench

Unfortunately there is no universal benchmarking tool or score but just a widely used one. From what I gather, 3DMark and PC Mark are the most widely used tools to assess performance. If you are a hardcore gamer and graphics are your primary concern, 3DMark is probably the right choice for you. For overall system benchmarking, PC Mark is a safe bet. They can be downloaded at I downloaded the free basic version of PC Mark 7 (specific to Windows 7) to run my tests. The paid versions give you the options to do additional tests (and customize them). The PC Mark 7 UI is very simple and intuitive to use as seen in the screenshots below.

Simple and easy to use interface. The basic version has all the default settings enabled (and they cannot be changed)
Once the benchmarking begins, the software begins running its tests.
One of the tests is the video playback test. A random clip is played.
Once the video playback test has been completed, a graphics test is conducted. This is to simulate (possibly) a game with a heavy visual component.
The software then simulates the opening and browsing of multiple web sessions. This is probably what most people do on a daily basis 🙂
The next test is to simulate image manipulation, play around with Photoshop much anyone? In addition to these tests, a check is done to determine the data transfer rate (simulation of copying or moving files from one location to another).
All tests are run 3 times and it looks like the mean score is calculated. This is displayed in a separate browser window. Additional information is also displayed (see screenshot below).
The results page gives an overview the system and shows information about the processor, graphics card, memory and hard drive.
Also displayed are detailed results of each test.
Now what good is your result if there is no basis for comparison?

Using the information from the results page, you can visit the central 3Dmark database at and do a search based on the CPU and graphics card etc. to compare your result to similarly spec’d machines. The machine that was used for this test was not too powerful and hence the low score. These tests can be run any number of times and you can compare the results to the original benchmark score to see if new components have a positive or negative impact! That doesn’t look too complicated now does it?

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