[Windows] CPU problems? PCBoost wants to help “increase the speed of your computer”

2013-09-26_232008One of the reasons why your computer may be running slow is because of your CPU. If you have an underpowered or overutilized CPU, then your computer will be unresponsive. Are you in such a situation? Then PGWARE PCBoost wants to help. Let’s see if it is worth your time.

What is it and what does it do

Main Functionality

PCBoost is program that, according to the developer, helps “instantly increase the speed of your computer. Applications such as games, video production and photo editors are immediately faster.”

Pros

  • Uses two methods to help increase performance:
    • Automatically modifies the processing priority of your foreground process to high, to ensure it gets the most CPU usage (you can modify settings to set processing priority to a different level, if you want)
    • Pings Windows CPU scheduler everyone two minutes to ensure your foreground process is running on the fastest available core, if you have a multi-core CPU
  • Allows you to run a processor benchmark to judge the performance of your CPU
  • Automatically sets itself to run at Windows boot. This type of behavior usually irks me but for this type of program, running automatically at Windows boot is necessary because PCBoost is an “always on” type program.
  • Extremely easy-to-use — install it, run it, and go, with no setup required
  • Not too bad on computer resources — uses roughly 3 MB while sitting in the background

Cons

  • Eh. Bold claims are backed up with not-so-bold functionality.

Discussion

2013-09-27_003156PCBoost sounds like a complicated program but, in reality, it is actually fairly simple. PCBoost does two things to help “increase the speed of your computer”:

  • It automatically boosts the processing priority of your foreground process (i.e. the active window — the program you are currently uses) to high (you can customize this to a different setting, if you want)
  • It pings Windows CPU scheduler every two minutes to send the foreground process to the least used CPU core (only applicable if you have a multi-core CPU, such as dual-core or quad-core)

So, does this actually increase the speed of your computer and programs? Eh.

First of all, you should note PCBoost will have little to no effect if you have no CPU use issues. Both the features of PCBoost only do something when there are programs or processes fighting for CPU time; increasing the priority of the foreground process to high does something only if that program has to fight for CPU with other programs and processes and same goes for pinging Windows CPU scheduler. If you always have free CPU (i.e. your CPU is not fully utilized), then PCBoost is literally useless for you.

Secondly, despite what the developer claims, PCBoost does not make anything “faster”. Rather, PCBoost helps ensure the program you are actively use (the active window, foreground process) gets the most CPU processing power possible. In other words, PCBoost tries to make sure your active program doesn’t run slower. It may sound like a small difference but it is a significant difference: the speed of your computer is determined by your hardware specifications (e.g. CPU speed, amount of RAM, etc.) and the only way to make your computer faster is to modify the physical hardware such as with overclocking, which PCBoost doesn’t do.

That said, boosting the CPU priority of the foreground process is an age-old trick to ensure your active program gets the most possible CPU processing power. (It is actually a feature built directly into Windows — PCBoost just automates it.) The trick is time-tested and is accepted as a way to help boost performance in situations where you have multiple running programs/processes and all of them want CPU time; in such situations, the programs/processes with the higher priority get more CPU time and thus perform better. Although this is a very simple trick to help manage CPU, this part of PCBoost works. I’m not as convinced of PCBoost’s other feature.

Windows is built to work with multi-core CPU usage; it knows how to handle which processing core to send processes to. I’m not convinced PGWARE — the developer of PCBoost — is smarter than Microsoft; I’d much rather leave it to Windows to decide which core to send my foreground process to rather than let PCBoost force Windows CPU scheduler to use the least used core every two minutes. And before you geeks say “but Ashraf, modifying processor affinity is a well-known and accepted trick“, let me remind you this feature isn’t really optimizing processor affinity; it is something similar, but different. Something different that hasn’t convinced me that it is better.

Conclusion and download link

PCBoost has not convinced me that it is a worthwhile program. First of all, with only two features (and one of them being a very simple one), it doesn’t do very much to help alleviate CPU clog and overuse when compared to programs like Process Lasso and Process Tamer. And of what it does do, half of the functionality is dubious. You are more than welcome to give this program a try but I not going to recommend it.

Rather, if you have CPU usage issues, give Process Lasso (which has Free and Pro versions) or Process Tamer (freeware) a try. They apply different methods than PCBoost to try to reign in rogue CPU usage to ensure the best performance possible; methods which I feel are a bit more useful than what PCBoost does. If you don’t have CPU usage issues (e.g. you have a modern, fast computer)… then why are you reading this review?

Price: $14.99

Version reviewed: 4.9.23.2013

Supported OS: Windows 8/7/Vista/XP (32-bit and 64-bit)

Download size: 4.8 MB

VirusTotal malware scan results: 0/45

Is it portable? No

PGWARE PCBoost homepage

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5 comments

  1. John

    I do agree with Ashraf review. very small difference to nothing. tested when i converted videos. converted one observe how fast will the conversion will be done. stop or kill pcboost then observed how fast the conversion will be done. no difference.

  2. BeegDiquesDontLye

    rod garnett – get an ISP that doesn’t cause drop-outs in the stream? Use speedtest.net to test (they do a very good test and compare statistics for your convenience).
    Your machine is technically-fast enough to produce the graphics. The other possibility that springs to mind, is software corruption. Whatever you had done to it ‘fixed’, well between that and the original corruption, there might be serious issues behind the scenes in Windows that aren’t apparent in general operation.
    Get a pro on the job, or learn how to restore Windows to factory setting (Acer’s site should tell you) AFTER backing-up all your data.

  3. rod garnett

    [@Giovanni] Hello Folks. I am an old fart that is a real computer idiot. I am very thankful for your reviews. I used to download everything trying to get a better handle on my computer. In ever case I screwed the machine up and had to pay to get it fixed. Now I read your reviews and usually move on. I try to watch sports on my machine, I hate all the delays in the steam. I have the best ISP in my area and it is poor quality wireless that downloads at 7000 and uploads at about 500. Is there a way to make my machine not have all the delays and freezing in the stream. Acer Aspire, AX3400, windows 7 64 bit, 3GB DDR3, 500GB, DVD-Super Multi, Nvidia GeForce 9200 HDMI

  4. Ashraf
    Author/Mr. Boss

    [@Giovanni]

    >>”If you don’t have CPU usage issues (e.g. you have a modern, fast computer)… then why are you reading this review?

    Maybe because if you play very demanding GAMES CPU issues can be experienced even if you have a pretty much powerful PC.”

    If you experience CPU issues while gaming, then you have CPU issues and my statement does not apply to you…

    In any case, we have already reviewed Razer Game Booster: http://dottech.org/118941/how-to-increase-video-game-performance-on-windows-tip/

  5. Giovanni

    If you don’t have CPU usage issues (e.g. you have a modern, fast computer)… then why are you reading this review?

    Maybe because if you play very demanding GAMES CPU issues can be experienced even if you have a pretty much powerful PC.

    So why not use the awesome freeware “Razer Game Bosster”??

    This is the only tool I tried which has really made a huge difference on my system while playing games!!! But it’s not just for PC gamers….

    In fact with this magic FREE tool you can:

    – shut down useless 3rd parties background processes and Windows services to speed up game playing, avoiding any possible conflicts and incompatibility as well
    – install new drivers , as well as download or update necessary game tools, like Directs or Steam for a better gaming experience
    – quickly defragment game directories and files, to make your games load and run faster as you ever seen before
    – tweak your PC for maximizing Internet speed without overclocking your hardware
    – record high-quality gameplay videos, capture in-game screenshots and record voice while playing 3D games and then create Machinima to share them on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/user/machinima)

    http://www.razerzone.com/gamebooster