The Windows System Assessment Tool is being used in Windows Vista to compute the Windows Experience Index of the computer system which gives you a basic score in the end about the system's performance.
The tool is basically running in the background on Windows Vista to benchmark various components of the computer system. It is also possible to run the command on the command line directly if you prefer that.
One interesting aspect of winsat.exe is that it can also be launched under Windows XP. It provides the same functionality on that operating system with the exception of the Windows Experience Engine. What you basically get is a benchmarking tool for your computer system developed by Microsoft.
The tool has to be downloaded or moved before it becomes available on Windows XP. The easiest way to do that is to download the Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor 1.0 and extract its installation package with the help of Universal Extractor or a similar tool that is capable of that. The other possibility would be to install the Upgrade Advisor and look into the program directory afterwards to find the winsat.exe file there.
Winsat.exe can then be launched from the command line. The basic parameter that is providing details about all supported arguments is winsat -?. The main assessments are cpu, disk, mem, dwm, d3d, media and mfmedia.
The switches are not outlined in the help documentation. They are however listed on the Technet Library page so that you can find out more about them.
The winsat mem command supports 14 switches. Here are a few examples of what you can do with the Windows System Assessment Tool:
The following example assesses CPU performance using 256-bit AES cryptographic algorithms:
winsat cpu -encryption
Measuring read speed of a local drive:
winsat disk -read -ran -drive c
How can this benchmark aid the user of the system? It can for instance help to determine the best location for a cache by comparing the write and read speed of all hard drives and external drives. It can also be used to measure the speed of old or new computer memory, or the performance of two different PCs with each other.
Please note that the program is also available on newer versions of Windows. The functionality it provides is similar, but since it is included natively in those versions, you can run it directly from the command line or control panel.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.