Given how involved the process of benchmarking is, and how important it is when making a decision. We need some standard set of tools that we can use to benchmark our systems, get a simple to understand result and use it to compare different hardware components and configurations effectively.
Here are a few free benchmarking tools that you cover a wide array of hardware and use cases.
1. Indigo Benchmark — For rendering and content creation
Now that the PC and desktop computing war is waging at an all time high between AMD and Intel and also AMD and Nvidia, this benchmark is strongly recommended. This benchmark can be used to test both your CPU and GPU to the utmost for certain workloads like video rendering and content creation.
The reason it is first on the list is because it is cross-platform. You can install it on macOSX, Windows and, of course, Linux. The crossplatform nature of the software can also help you choose the best operating system for your rig, on top of letting you compare various hardware options.
2. Phoronix Test Suite
Phoronix offers a more complete set of tools for benchmarking nearly any aspect of your system. Moreover, it is completely open source and not just free to use. The framework it offers is extensible and can accomodate any number of different tests that you may want to see your system perform. It is extremely powerful, flexible and useful for both sysadmins as well as desktop enthusiasts.
Moreover, the official website for Phoronix offers a very in depth analysis of the benchmarking procedures, in case you are new to this field. Their latest post detailing the impact of spectre and meltdown mitigation patches on your system’s performance is something I can personally recommend.
Perhaps not the foremost consideration while building a PC or a server, your SSDs are important. Faster SSDs lead to snappier systems. The reason is quite simple. Modern CPUs and memory are fast enough that once a program or a data reaches them it can then quickly be read or executed.
Secondary storage, like your SSDs, are major bottlenecks. The longer it takes for information to reach your CPU, the slower your experience will be. IOzone lets you have a really close peek at how your storage is doing. Sequential reads, sequential writes as well as random IOPs are to be considered to select your perfect SSD.
Workloads like video streaming can benefit from higher sequential reads whereas databases can really benefit from higher random IOPs. So storage benchmarking is never isn’t as simple as running dd to a disk.
4. Web Latency Benchmark
We have talked a lot about storage and compute, that leaves out one thing and that is networking. While there are a ton of tools for network engineers to benchmark and monitor their networking their 10G interfaces, I wanted to talk about a different layer of networking altogether.
The Web Latency Benchmark is a benchmark for your web browser from Google. This cross-platform benchmark is quite useful when comparing the real-world performance of your web browser. Things like delay between keystrokes and browser responses, scroll latency and jank and a few other things are measured by the benchmark.
Browsers are something we spend a lot of time working at, if the performance between Firefox and Chrome differs even in the slightest, it is worth the time to benchmark them and pick the better one.
Yes, the archival tool 7-zip comes with its own benchmarking tool built into it. If your workload involves a lot of compressing and uncompressing. Then this is benchmark is really worth considering.
You can take this tool even further, things like running password brute force attack or dictionary attack are all possible using 7-zip. If you want to see the difference between your CPU and GPU when handling these kind of workloads (which can be multithreaded easily), 7-zip has a lot to offer.
Before you start running benchmarks on your own system, I would highly encourage you to check out PassMark software’s website and just try and infer what the different CPU benchmarks show and reflect. There’s multithreaded score, single threaded score and different CPUs work at different clock-speeds. In short, there is quite a bit of variation.
Try and picture yourself as someone trying to pick one of the CPUs for their own build, how would you decide which one is better for you? Good benchmarks should answer these questions for you.