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xAlan Bryer

Benchmarking - A Brief Guide
September 2000

Benchmarking has been around for many years and in all guises, from the athlete competing against another, to horse racing, motorsport, etc. The list goes on. It all boils down to seeing what you can get from an item, be it electronic or not.

Nowadays, a lot of pressure is put upon manufacturers to squeeze just that little bit more, and for the end user to try to gain even more than the recommended specification. This is where benchmarking products come into their own; benchmarking sets down a figure so that the user can determine if the changes made have increased or decreased the speed of the machine that they have altered/added to, and to compare against standard spec machines.


There are many different programs availiable to determine the speed of specific components or of all components. Mostly it's 3D (your graphics card) or CPU speed that seems to count for most people when trying to "impress" others. Today the best 3D benchmarking program on the market is 3DMark2000, a highly comprehensive set of instructions that test the graphics card to its limits and give it a final score. You can get 3DMark2000, an 18.9MB download, from their
website .

Also from the makers of 3DMark2000 is Videomark2000, which gives results for video/DVD decoding. Although not used by many it is still worth the 21.3MB download.

Final Reality

Worthy of a mention is Final Reality from VNU Labs. This program has been out for quite a while and even though its results database has been discontinued, it is still availiable for
download. In my opinion it is highly underrated by the consumer but it covers as much as 3DMark and is only a third of the download at 7.6MB.

The rendered scenes in these programs are quite breathtaking when first viewed, and the demo mode in 3DMark2000 is the best of the 3D benchmark programs I have come across.

SiSoft Sandra

Next on the list of benchmark programs for your home computer is SiSoft's Sandra2000. Even though the version availiable for free download is a bit light on some features it still is one of the highest content benchmarking programs on the market today. Not only does it cover such things as CPU, Drives, Memory, Multimedia and CD-Rom in its benchmarking list, it also gives a very comprehensive list of your machine's stats, from BIOS information to full system summary. This can be quite helpful in quick diagnostics on almost all components of your machine with its hints and tips section. Sadly it is lacking only one component - a graphics benchmark. But hopefully this will be included in a later version.You can get Sandra2000


Another program for you to try is
TestCPU, which is a standalone CPU benchmarking program. It allows for your CPU to be auto-detected and then benchmarked using mathematics, number theory and algebra which will give you an index mark as to your CPU's rating. With a small memory test for throughput, it is basic but quite adequate. Also within this program as a small added feature is a listing of all processors from Intel's i386SX to the Pentium III E, and including Cyrix, AMD and Centaur/IDT Winchip processors. It gives a brief description and approximate release date of the said processors.

By searching around on the Internet you will find other benchmarking programs not listed here as there really are too many to mention. By reading this I hope some of you will become more inquisitive into the "let's see what mine can do" side of computing, including tweaking and overclocking.


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