Jack has been interested in computers and tech since 10 years old when he decided to dismantle his PC to see how it worked. Ever since Jack has had a passion for IT and gaming beyond any other. He loves the data and testing process and allowing himself to take an analytical and technical approach to PC hardware. He's even gone as far as getting educated in cyber security.
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When you’ve just dropped a substantial amount of money on a brand new gaming PC, you should always make sure it’s working as intended. A PC stress test can help you achieve this. In this article, we will be covering RAM and CPU stress test tools to push your components to the maximum, while testing component stability in the process.
Stress testing isn’t just for new systems however, stress testing is a valuable tool for older systems to ensure everything is running smoothly and performing as it should. Stressing your system can be especially useful to test overclock stability on newly overclocked components, and to make sure older parts remain fully functional.
In this guide, we are going to outline the best RAM and CPU stress tests to perform along with where to download them online. We will also be including some hardware monitoring tools, to allow you to keep track of your system and how it’s performing.
Please note that we do not cover the GPU in this article, if you’d like to know more about GPU overclocking then please visit our ‘how to stress test your GPU’ page.
VIDEO: How to stress test your PC, RAM & CPU
What is a stress test?
Stress tests are a pretty simple concept. A stress test can be both synthetic or real-world, but most of the time stress tests are synthetic for the sake of controlling as many variables as possible. Stress tests are designed to test component stability, this is usually done when applying overclocks/underclocks or a component fault is suspected.
The idea behind stress testing is to create a maximum load on a component and sustain that load until an issue presents itself, or the component passes the stress test.
What’s the difference between synthetic testing and real-world testing?
There are two main types of testing and both are required in different scenarios. There are both advantages and disadvantages to both. The exact dynamics of stress testing can become pretty complex, but we will aim to give an easy to understand explanation for both.
Synthetic testing is when a piece of software creates a set of defined instructions that do not differ or alter during the testing process, this is designed to provide repeatable results with very few software-oriented variables. An advantage to synthetic software testing is that the component can be reliably loaded to 100% load constantly.
For example, Aida64 has an in-built stress test tool that loads the CPU at 100% constantly and consistently. This is achieved by asking the CPU to complete complex instructions, whilst maintaining a steady stream of uninterrupted instructions that never differ from one another, as to eliminate any software related performance4 anomalies.
Real-world testing is designed to create a ‘real-world’ representation of performance and is essentially mimicking your PC during normal usage conditions. Often real-world testing incorporates more than one component and is usually much less targeted than synthetic testing.
For example, a Prime95 test is a synthetic workload and targets the CPU specifically. Meanwhile, a gaming session is a real-world stress test and targets most PC components, mainly GPU, CPU and RAM.
The idea here is to test how the component performs collectively with the rest of your system, this test is mainly for fault detection within the system as a whole, or to test a specific component’s reaction, thermals or power draw in a real-world scenario.
Tools For Monitoring Your System
It is always a good idea to monitor your system when performing stress tests. Monitoring tools are a good way to keep track of temperatures, and load levels and some of these tools can be used in unison with benchmarking software allowing for better tracking.
A handy tool for component temperatures is HWMonitor. This tool is straightforward to use and will give you real-time info on thermals, clock speeds, and power usage.
While each component has varied max temperatures it can operate at; it is always good to keep your CPU under 75°C.
This tool is quite advanced when compared to the other two. With HWiNFO64, you can monitor multicore components in a user-friendly manner. When running this tool, you can track temps on your CPU, GPU, RAM, and motherboard, while also tracking fan speeds and load times. This is a be all and end all tool, meaning it has pretty much everything you’ll ever need. Providing your PC has a sensor for whatever you’re trying to pull data from, HWINFO may be magical but it cant create sensors where there aren’t any.
Core temp is a relatively simple tool, but it does exactly what it says on the tin. You get real-time temp readings, and you can easily see load percentages for your CPU. Core Temps is a bit more advanced for the Intel CPU users out there as you can see the information for each core of your processor however with AMD you can only see an overall temperature. We don’t know why this is as other software’s can report a per-core temperature on AMD CPUs, we guess it’s just a limitation on Core Temps end.
This tool also lets you see a bit more information on the CPU you have installed, such as displaying voltages and the frequencies.
CPU Stress Test Tools
Whether you want to check the stability of your CPU after overclocking it or want to see how hot it is running, you are going to want a CPU stress test tool. The tools we recommend below are the best you can use for the job and are worth a download so you can start stress testing your CPU.
When it comes to CPU stress testing, the most reliable and widely popular Prime95 is a go-to tool. This tool finds the Mersenne prime number using the CPU and generates a very heavy workload. If your PC can manage running this stress test for a couple of hours (1-2) we’d make a pretty safe assumption that your PC is working as it should.
There are a few different tests you can run when you want to stress your CPU. You can run small FFT’s to reveal potential issues early on. The blended test could be very useful as it will stress your CPU and RAM at the same time. But using this method to fault find can be a bit of an issue due to the multiple components tested, leaving you unsure where the fault lies.
IntelBurn Test is another free stress test tool that will enable you to push your processor to the limit. You can use this tool to check how stable your component is, however, due to this software having very few in-bult failsafe’s, it’s lead to some negative feedback over the years with users reporting damage due to their CPUs. This isn’t exclusive to Intel Burn Test, all of the stress testing tools on this list have the potential to cause harm if your overclocks aren’t properly configured.
Don’t let that put you off, The IntelBurn test is still a very well renowned CPU stress testing tool.
Aid64 is the only stress test tool for your CPU on the list that will cost you money. The package starts at around $39.95, which isn’t that expensive but for most out there its completely unnecessary with the free tools bringing enough capabilities to the table. That being said Aida64 is one of the most reliable and in-depth CPU stress testing tools available today.
Aida64 needs to be paid for you to get full system diagnostic utility when compared to the free ones. This type of kit is aimed more towards computer engineers, Professionals in the IT industry, and enthusiasts. but you can get a free trial that lasts a limited number of days with limited features, and the trial does indeed include the stress testing suite.
RAM Stress Testing Tools
RAM can sometimes be forgotten about when it comes to stress testing, but for a thorough system test, it is highly important. With a RAM tool, you can diagnose potential issues from your components and also check for stability, especially when overclocking. When RAM fails it can cause a whole host of issues elsewhere in the PC, making RAM faults sometimes difficult to diagnose.
Because of this the best practice is to check the RAM physically when feasible.
Checking RAM physically
The best practice when it comes to RAM is to check it physically, doing this is simple.
If you have two sticks of RAM, remove one and see if the fault persists. If it does, remove the other stick and replace it with the one you removed first, swapping the sticks if you will.
Failing that, it’s time to switch up the slots. Try placing a single stick of RAM in the proper slot, or any other slot you haven’t been using, this is to check the slots on the motherboard hasn’t gone bad. Repeat this for all slots available.
Prime95 is best suited for CPU testing; however, its blended test can be useful for stress testing RAM and checking for stability when overclocking. When torture testing within the program, you will see an option to Blend, but it is worth noting that this tool won’t check your RAM for potential errors. If you are looking for a better diagnostic tool for your RAM, then the ones below are a much better solution.
The best tool available for checking RAM stability and potential RAM issues is MemTest86+. Once MemTest is loaded it will automatically begin stress testing your RAM, and it will indicate clearly if you have any current hardware issues or if your RAM is unstable from a recent overclock. It is worth noting that this tool needs to be downloaded to a USB pen as it isn’t a windows application. You will want to set your system to boot from the USB drive then as mentioned the software will automatically begin on reboot.
Just make sure you have a couple of hours to spare, this test is thorough and takes a long time to complete.
MemTest86+ is always recommended for RAM stress testing as it is simply the best out there. However, MemTest64+ offers a more user-friendly solution. MemTest64+ works within Windows, making it more appealing to some. And is available for 64bit systems, most computers in this day and age are based on 64bit systems.
There we have it the best tools to stress test your PC, really all of them will work for you; it just comes down to picking what is best for you. Make sure before you begin, you download one of the monitoring tools online to give you an idea of your system’s current status and to see what the stress testing does to your components.
These tools will come in handy for anyone looking to overclock and max the performance of their system. You will be able to push these components until they become unstable without worrying that you may break something. These tools can often give a good indication as to the health of your components and will help you diagnose the issue.
If you have any questions or concerning PC issues, feel free to comment below or head over to the WePC community and we’ll do our best to help you.