Testing a newly build PC

Martin Brinkmann
May 5, 2008
Updated • Aug 4, 2010

Testing a newly build or purchased computer is essential for two reasons. The first is to make sure that the hardware does not get damaged.The main problem of most modern PCs is heat, each device can only cope with a certain amount of heat and if that heat rises above a level the device was designed to endure it can lead to hardware damages and data corruption.

The second reason is to make sure that the hardware is working properly. If your computer ram is faulty you can run into all kinds of difficulties from crashes and bluescreens to severe data loss.I use several applications to test a new computer to reduce the chance that I will run into such difficulties.

I consider the first start the first test of the computer. Why ? Because if the computer boots properly I know that all the devices that are needed to boot are working properly at that time. I usually check the BIOS first which normally does come with a PC Health menu that displays PC temperatures. This first step is essential.

If the CPU temperature for instance would look very high (consult the CPU booklet or website of the developer if you don't know the values) then something went wrong with the cpu cooler. It could be that the cooler has not been properly placed on the cpu or that the cooler does not have the capacities to cool it effectively.

I usually only test the memory and the cpu of the computer. Especially the memory is essential. The applications that I use for testing purposes are Prime95 (Torture Mode) and Memtest86. Memtest86 is available as a bootable ISO version which means that you can run the application before installing the operating system.

I suppose there is some Live CD that is offering additional applications, anyone having a good tip about that ?

Both applications stress test the computer and should not display errors or cause reboots and shutdowns. A reboot or shutdown usually means that the computer has a cooling problem or faulty hardware. I normally run both applications for at least six hours to make sure everything is alright.

Keeping an eye on the computer temperatures is essential in the beginning. It's not only the cpu that is important, hard drive, video card and system temperatures are important as well and should not rise to critical levels even when stress testing the computer.

The first application that I usually start after installing the operating system and the drivers is one of those system analysers. Something like Sandra Sisoft or Everest Ultimate. The trial versions are sufficient for my needs and I uninstall the applications after a while again.

Both display the temperatures of all important components and they usually come with their own system stress tests as well.These programs are also excellent for comparing the build in hardware with the hardware that you did purchase.

Gamers can also run 3D Mark 2006 to test their system and observe the temperature level of the video card and cpu afterwards.I usually run Speedfan all the time for the first week which display all temperature sensors of the computer and has the advantage that it is a tiny application that does not use a lot of system resources.

Do you use other programs to test a computer ? Let me know about them.


Tutorials & Tips

Previous Post: «
Next Post: «


  1. venugopal said on September 26, 2011 at 2:45 pm

    How do you test your system when a new build generated?

  2. Jojo said on May 5, 2008 at 10:37 pm

    I had months of grief when I built my new Abit IP35 Pro system starting last Sept. I went through multiple RMA’s. Also ran Memtest but all checked out.

    Finally, a ram stick went dead (Corsair HDX 6400). I RMA’d both sticks of memory since they are dual channel. THe ram sticks were replaced with v2.1 modules (used to have v1.2). Since replacing the ram, I have had no problems at all.

    Moral: Clearly there was something wrong with the old ram. Running memtest did not catch the problem. Only the failure of the memory lead me to a solution.

  3. Rarst said on May 5, 2008 at 7:00 pm

    “Another good way of doing it is to recode a movie from DVD to AVI or AVI to DVD. It will stress the CPU, harddisks, and RAM in a real-world scenario.”

    Real world scenario is not a test. It isn’t one and it can’t replace one.

    Purpose of dedicated testing software is to test 100% of component under heavy load to make sure it really works. No real world scenario uses 100% of anything in computer.

  4. Beecher Bowers said on May 5, 2008 at 5:51 pm

    Another good way of doing it is to recode a movie from DVD to AVI or AVI to DVD. It will stress the CPU, harddisks, and RAM in a real-world scenario.

  5. Rarst said on May 5, 2008 at 1:01 pm

    memtest86+ ( http://www.memtest.org/ ) is kinda fork of original memtest. We used both at work and my thoughts that + one handles more hardware (especially after recent updates to v2).

    S&M is very good CPU stress test, it doesn’t really have home page (just google it) and is mostly known to russian-speaking crowd.

    MHDD – great for drive surface testing (again – google it). Must be carfeully used it has functions to mess alot of drive stuff. :)

    Passmark burning test (trial, shareware, http://www.passmark.com/ ) is complete suit for stress testing. It tests pretty much any component separately or in any combination. Very slim (~10Mb unpacked), very nice video testing module, highly configurable… It’s not freeware but it is pretty much ultimate program if you need to test numerous computers.

    PS live cds are overkill for testing purposes. Pre-made ones are often outdated or illegal (or both) and making and managing your own is very time-consuming (been there). Since core programs either fit on flopppy or in the corner of flash drive – not worth effort.

Leave a Reply

Check the box to consent to your data being stored in line with the guidelines set out in our privacy policy

We love comments and welcome thoughtful and civilized discussion. Rudeness and personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please stay on-topic.
Please note that your comment may not appear immediately after you post it.