User guide

Test, fix and upgrade your PC's performance

Still hankering for the day that you pulled your new PC out of the box, plugged it in and it just worked? Over time and use, your PC can slow down. This could be due to outdated hardware, and/or software issues. can help to identify and resolve problems with your windows PC. Mac OS / OS X and Linux are not currently supported.

This user guide will help you get the most out of your Userbenchmark experience by walking you through: has an easy-to-use benchmarking tool that can establish whether your PC is actually running slow and why. It may be that you have an outdated PC struggling to cope with modern apps or perhaps performance is hindered on an otherwise decent PC. Userbenchmark can help identify which is the most likely problem.

In order to test the speed of your processor, hard drive, graphics card, SSD and USB flash drive. Simply download the free Userbenchmark tool. So that the test can yield more accurate results, close down any unnecessary programs before clicking the run button shown below.

The test will take a couple of minutes to run depending on your setup and will then present you with a set of results on

The following section explains how to interpret the results for an example user benchmark.

Build benchmarks

In this example, the PC scores a fair 52% for desktop, but is definitely not appropriate for gaming scoring only 2%. And as a workstation that requires multi-core processing, this PC scores a 27%, leaving plenty of room for improvement. Full details on each of the category calculations are available here.

CPU score

The AMD processor scores a benchmark of 57.8% based on single, quad and multi-core speed tests which is slightly higher than the average of all other 42 benchmarks for this processor (55.6%). Overall this is a fair CPU.

GPU score

The graphics are definitely not good – scoring only 2.4% in the benchmark test. In reality this means you can’t play 3D games with this card and it may struggle to play some HD movies. Delving into the 366 benchmarks for this graphics card reveals consistently poor results indicating that this is a performance issue for this model of graphics card rather than this particular card.

HDD score

Looking at the drives now, the Hitachi hard disk seems to be performing optimally with a component status of 87% and scoring an average 55.5% for performance.

SSD score

By contrast, the SSD, where this PC’s boot drive is located, only has a component status of 7%: it scores a reasonable 57.9% for performance, but on average, users with this SSD score 83.6%, so there is potentially an issue here.

So what next? It may be that your PC’s performance is fine for your needs: some simple word processing, handling emails and watching movies.

However, perhaps you want to start using your PC for gaming or perhaps you want to get to the bottom of the abnormally poor SSD performance, then there are different courses of action to improve status and scores:

Clearing out unwanted software

Cleaning up the PC can improve the status of your PC. This example PC has a status of 44% meaning that for the same PC, 56% of users achieve faster speeds. This result is particularly impacted by the SSD status where performance is way below the potential.

If your results indicate that poor performance is stemming from a low CPU or boot drive status, then you could try the following:

Use Windows tools

  • Use task manager to see what unnecessary programs are active and taking processing power away from your immediate undertakings. Task manager can be accessed via CTRL+ALT+DEL. Navigate through ‘processes and performance’ to see which programs are culpable. As well as looking at CPU load under the performance tab, Windows 8 is also able to check Disk load.

    You can then uninstall redundant programs via the control panel, ‘programs’, then ‘programs and features’ (Windows 8). Do your research before deleting a program you don’t instantly recognise.

  • Also, in Windows 8, via the task manager ‘Start up’ tab, you can adjust the programs that automatically start when you turn on your PC which can potentially reduce your start up time. You can also access this by typing ‘msconfig’ in your startup menu for earlier versions of Windows.

  • Use Windows Disk Cleanup (user guide) to purge unnecessary files from your drives. Access hard disk cleanup via settings, control panel, administrative tools and then Disk Cleanup. You can delete program files and system files (e.g. previous Window installations) via this method, but be careful not to get too click happy and delete files that you may still need.

  • Finally, you can access the Windows troubleshooting tool via the control panel action centre to help identify performance issues that are Windows-related e.g. it may advise you to install a Windows update, but to be honest it will be less helpful for non-Windows issues.

Use free online tools

  • MalwareBytes is an excellent free tool to identify and remove viruses if your PC is afflicted.

  • CCleaner is another superb and widely used free tool that that cleans up old and temporary files and identifies unnecessary programs for you to delete.

Good maintenance habits

  • You may be unaware, that the recycle bin occupies disk space, so regularly empty the recycle bin when you are sure you no longer need the files contained there.

  • Switching off your computer forces all programs to close. Regularly doing this clears out the memory and reliably closes any programs which may be running surreptitiously in the background.

  • Lastly, habitually vacuum your computer and surrounding area. Too much dust can cause hardware to overheat and as a result not work optimally.

Choosing hardware upgrades

Whilst the example PC is perfectly fine for most desktop activities, it only scored a poor 2% for gaming. Upgrading the graphics card would instantly improve this PC’s gaming performance.

Using Userbenchmark’s component pages for: CPU, SSD, HDD, GPU can help identify the best upgrade options based on value, speed, popularity, price and age.

Use the comparison pages to look at your favourite graphics cards in detail and further narrow down your selection. Here is a comparison between the Nvidia GTX 970 and AMD R9 290X, two leading graphics cards

Next, use the Userbenchmark Custom PC Builder tool to calculate the expected system score for your selected component upgrades before you go ahead and invest. You can also explore the real world benchmark results of your proposed PC and check that all the components are compatible.

So you’ve taken on board the suggestions: you’ve cleaned up your SSD boot drive by deleting a few programs, and you’ve upgraded your graphics card. Now it’s time to measure the results of your hard work.

Run the Userbenchmark speed test again and compare the latest results to your previous run results. Results can be saved to your profile.

Happy benchmarking!

Thanks for reading this user guide. Please share with your friends if you find useful. We are always happy to receive feedback by email.

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