6. SiSoft Sandra Lite
Known as a hardware information and benchmarking tool, Sandra also has the option to run a Burn-in test from the Tools options. This is achieved by simply running a number of the benchmark tests continuously placing good amounts of stress on the system. Several tests are available including a number of processor, graphics, memory, physical disk, optical drive and network tests. These tests can then be executed for a set time or for a specified number of loops. The stability testing component of Sandra is certainly powerful but also slightly complicated if you just want to run a quick and simple test. Works on all Windows from 2000 to 8.
OCCT is a tool that is known to put serious amounts of stress on your system components, and is especially good at severely stressing your power supply. There are rumors it can even kill poor quality or cheap PSU’s so is obviously a utility to be used with great care. CPU tests include an OCCT test and a LinPack test similar to IntelBurnTest, a GPU test and the mentioned power supply test. There is also a useful temperature and voltage monitoring window where you can keep an eye on the values during any of the tests.
OCCT works in Windows XP up to Windows 8 and also has a portable version.
8. PassMark BurninTest (Demo)
The Passmark tool isn’t free and the full versions cost $39 / $79 but it’s certainly a comprehensive suite for stress and stability testing a number of different system components. These include processor, hard disc drives, memory, optical drives, sound cards, 2D /3D / video graphics, network connection and printers. The more expensive Pro version uses plugins that can also test keyboards, ports (parallel, Firewire and USB etc) and modems. BurninTest has a 30 day trial so you can still use it for a one off or short term series of stability tests, but could be worth the investment if you stress test a lot of machines.
Passmark BurninTest works on all versions of Windows from XP to 8.
Prime95 is a tool used extensively by users who overclock their systems and is often run for several hours pushing the CPU to its limits during that time. This is due to Prime95’s high reliance on the CPU’s Floating Point Unit for most of its running which keeps the stress levels and temperatures very high during use. On starting the tool it will ask if you want to run a torture test and what intensity if so. This ranges from Small FFT which stresses mainly the CPU, to the Blend test that puts a good deal of stress on most related hardware components. Prime95 often needs to be used for at least 10 hours to get the best results. It’s portable and works on Windows 95 and newer.
LinX is another small and portable tool that runs a stress test on your processor using Intels LinPack libraries. Just set the problem size to the desired value and the amount of memory to be allocated will be automatically set. Or for maximum stress simply press the All button to allocate all available memory to the task. Then set the Run value which can be either number of runs or minutes. LinX can also grab some temperatures, voltages and fan speeds from Everest and SpeedFan if they are installed. LinX is portable and has separate 32-bit and 64-bit versions in the archive.
Final Note: HeavyLoad is definitely a quick and easy all round testing tool and also has the added bonus of being portable. If you just want to torture your video card then Furmark is all you need, and LinX or IntelBurnTest are tools that will get your CPU up to full stress and temperature levels very fast.
Stress testing your computer components is not something that should be performed often and is only really meant to help identify hardware faults by placing excessive stress on them. Or it is used to fully stress a new build or system to make sure all components are working 100% reliably. This does mean a computer is more likely to encounter shutdowns, reboots or crashes during a stress / stability test as any weaknesses are uncovered and components are pushed to their limits.
It’s also NOT a good idea to test a hard drive if you suspect it has any kind of problem because a stress test will increase the speed at which the drive might fail. Backing up is therefore recommended before running tests on any drives that hold important data.
A hardware monitoring utility is important to use as well so you can monitor system temperatures, fan speeds and voltages while the stability tests are being performed, and you can stop the test if you identify a heat or fan problem etc.
It’s only a small thing, but do make sure you know where the STOP button is on any of stress testing tools before you start!