How to stability test a new PC, how to test components, and what software to install once your computer is up and running seem to be pretty common questions in here. As such, I figured it would be good to have a post consolidating all the different recommendations people have for software and what they do. Feel free to add stuff I forgot or to correct me if I’m wrong about something. I’d like us to have something that could be updated that we can point people to whenever they come in asking about software other than just pointing to Ninite
. That said, Ninite is still a great place to start for software. Overclocking/Stability
Once you put your computer together, one of the first things you should do is check to make sure your RAM is good. The two main ways to do this are by using Window’s built in Memory Diagnostic Tool
and by using MemTest86+
. Both test your RAM and let you know if you have any bad sectors.
If you’re not overclocking your CPU, ignore this paragraph and the next. If you have an AMD CPU, AMD OverDrive
is a great tool for identifying a good starting BIOS overclock. In addition to letting you overclock within the OS and having overclocking profiles, it has stress testing software built in.
Once you have your CPU overclocked in your BIOS or UEFI, you’ll want to test your system stability. LinX
, and Prime95
are generally considered the best stress testing suites out there. All three will test your RAM and CPU or just your CPU. Generally a system is not considered stable until it can run a stress test suite for several hours without crashing. IntelBurnTest
is another popular stress testing program. It’s important to check your temps every 5-15 minutes for the first hour or so of stress testing to make sure that your temps aren’t getting too high as too much heat can damage and shorten the life of your components. Your system should shut itself down if temps go too high, but keeping your eye on it at the start also will let you know if you haven't mounted your heatsink correctly.
GPU overclocking has also become quite the norm. Most GPUs should come with software to let you overclock, but not all do. Even if it does come with overclocking software, sometimes it’s worth checking out other suites to see if you can get a better overclock out of them. For Nvidia, I’d start with MSI Afterburner
, EVGA Precision
, EVGA OC Scanner
, EVGA ELEET
, and Asus GPU Tweak
. For AMD, check out MSI Afterburner
, Asus GPU Tweak
, Sapphire Trixx
, or Catalyst Control Center. Most of those tools have basic testing, but to really see if your GPU overclock is stable, you should run OCCT
, Cinebench, and try out different game benchmarks, such as the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. benchmark
. Furmark, while great, has been throttled on some newer cards like AMD’s 6000 series of GPUs.
For checking your HDD health and benches, take a look at HD Tune
. It looks like CrystalDiskInfo grew some adware. Let me know if CrystalDiskMark did as well so I can remove it.
Lastly, for optimizing your SSD, check out the SSD Tweak Utility
and Sean's Windows 7 SSD Optimization Guide
Once you get your computer setup, one of the first things some people like to do is run benches. I won’t toss too many out, but there are a few (outside of gaming benches) that are considered to be pretty standard benches. If you want to bench your computer, check out 3DMark 114, PCMark Vantage4, 3DMark 064, Cinebench
, Unigine Heaven
, HD Tune4, IOMeter
, and CrystalDiskMark
. I tend to gravitate toward CineBench and game benchmarks (Guru3D
also hosts a bunch) since the others are synthetic benchmarks that aren’t representative of real world performance. OCN also has a brief thread on recommended benches
. System Tweaking
If you’re like me, there are a lot of little things that you want to tweak in the OS. Ultimate Windows Tweaker
is a great place to start and gives you immediate access to a lot of Windows fine tuning. System Info/Monitoring HWMonitor
, and HWiNFO64
all tell you about your system specs, components, temperatures, etc. Of that software, HWiNFO64 is my favorite.
To monitor your system temps, I recommend Real Temp
, Core Temp
, or SpeedFan
. Keep in mind that you have to calibrate SpeedFan (see this post
for more info). Security
There are many different perspectivs on system security. Personally, I run Microsoft Security Essentials1
and MalwareBytes Anti-Malware1
and that’s it. Some people prefer AVG1, Panda Cloud
, or Avast1.
Other useful security tools are Keepass1
to securely manage your passwords, TrueCrypt1
for HDD encryption, and Prey
for tracking your computer if it gets stolen. Desktop Modification
While Windows 7 looks nice, I like to have the option to modify the desktop's look, feel, and interface. Rainmeter
are great places to start for heavily modifying the look and feel of your desktop.
If you want a calendar on your desktop, Rainlendar
Since the Windows key became useful in Vista, I don’t really feel the need for a dock or software like it, but if you want a dock or launch pad, check out Rocketdock
or Launchy1. F.lux
changes your monitor's color temperature and brightness based on the time of day and the kind of lighting present. Maintenance
In order to keep your computer running nicely, maintenance is necessary from time to time. If you need to uninstall something, check out Revo Uninstaller1.
It will remove all traces of the software, including all registry entries. If you’re swapping out your GPU, use Driver Sweeper
to get rid of all traces of your last GPU driver first. CCleaner1
is a great tool for getting rid of temp files, though it’s registry management tools are a bit more controversial. Franckey's System Cleanup
is lightweight and will clean unnecessary files much like CCleaner does. If you don’t like using Window’s built in disk defragger, Defraggler1
is a great alternative. Lastly, Recuva
is a decent place to start if you accidentally delete something. It’s not so great if you accidentally format the wrong HDD though… Secunia PSI
and FileHippo Update Checker
are great tools to make sure that your software is up to date and secure. If the update breaks functionality or it adds adware or something else undesired, check out FileHippo
first since they maintain old versions, then check out Oldware
, or VersionDownload
if you can't find it.
- .1 Available on Ninite
- .2 Trialware
- .3 Paid software
- .4 Free software with pay for feature upgrades