[Windows] 4 free programs to test the hardware on used, refurbished, and new computers (i.e. burn-in testing)

laptopThis article has been contributed to dotTech by dotTechie BearPup. Thanks buddy!

Back in the days when Windows ran on top of DOS – you manually started Windows from the Command Line (the C:\ prompt!) – entire suites of programs were available to test out your new computer. This was necessary as both the reliability of the hardware, and the technical expertise of the software developers/programmers, were less than stellar. This class of programs were known as ‘Burn-In’ programs.

Its been years since I built my own rig, and thus hadn’t needed this type of program. However, I recently purchased a very cheap refurbished laptop ($210) and wanted to see if the hardware (CPU, GPU, RAM) where in working condition. In other words, I wanted to subject the computer to a burn-in routine. Incorrectly I assumed Burn-In programs were still readily available. To my dismay, not only couldn’t I find any freeware under “Burn-In”, but one responder to a question thought they were being asked about either CD recording apps, or benchmarking programs. (Kids these days…)

So off I went in search of sites or programs that I could use to test my newly refurbished laptop. I found some that suited my needs and wanted to share the wealth, so to speak. But first, The Caveat: all of these programs are designed to stress test your computer hardware. They are not for the faint-hearted. My CPU maxed out at 181° F, and stayed at around 160° F for the hour I ran the testing! The max temp of my CPU is 212° F, so 181° F is definitely pushing it.

So The Caveat reads: make sure you know the specs of the equipment you’re testing, and if the testing programs specs don’t fit comfortably within your hardware’s specs, or you don’t know how the testing program will stress your computer, do not stress test your hardware! Otherwise, you will risk actually damaging the hardware — hardware that may have otherwise been working properly. The specs (things like temperature) are readily found by going to hardware manufacturers’ web sites.

That said, here are the Burn-In programs I found:

  • The best all around app for stress testing a CPU & Graphic Processing Unit (GPU) is called OCCT and it is free for personal use. It can be downloaded from CNET, or from the developer’s site, which has an active forum.
  • Next in line is a program called HeavyLoad by JAM Software. HeavyLoad is a freeware program, which can used freely for personal or commercial use, used for testing all aspects of your PC — CPU, GPU, RAM, hard drive, etc. As described by CNET (which rates the program 4/5 stars or ‘Excellent’): “Heavyload is a free program that offers an interesting way to test your computer’s endurance. By pushing your system to the limit, Heavyload will show you how well your PC can handle stress.” This program can also be downloaded from CNET.
  • For testing just the CPU, there is IntelBurnTest. This program is made to run the Linpack testing routine on your CPU, which by some accounts is a particularly stressful test. Despite the name IntelBurnTest is not developed by Intel, so don’t be confused; it is freeware and can be grabbed from Softpedia.
  • oZone3D is a website that specializes in GPU testing; it offers a variety of graphical testing utilities (plus one or two CPU testers, too); hit up their freeware download section to take a look.

I’m pleased to say that my newly refurbished old Dell Latitude D630 (manufactured around 2008) passed all these Burn-In stress and stability tests with flying colors! And I hope this info will help out others, and save you all the time I spent researching. Enjoy!

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