How to Check Pc Hardware Health
It is a big challenge to diagnose computer hardware problems. Several issues can be identified by several software tools that come with the operating system or from separate installable utilities from vendors of various hardware components, such as memory modules.
To make things more complicated, some errors are intermittent, which makes them very difficult to reproduce. The instructions below focus on the commonly used Windows OS, but other operating systems may be checked similarly.
Hardware diagnostics can help ensure that computer hardware is functioning properly before you run other tests or replace any defective hardware components. It also can verify that your system meets the minimum requirements for installing an application or game.
To run the built-in hardware diagnostics on your Windows PC you will have to do the following:
1) Click on Start and type in msinfo32.exe
2) Then click on it to execute it.
3) When the system information window opens, click on Components in the left pane if it is not already highlighted.
4) Scroll down until you find “BIOS“. If BIOS information is not listed, your PC doesn’t have this feature or your computer does not use BIOS.
5) Record the BIOS information that is listed (BIOS date, version, manufacturer). You will need this information later when reporting the error to an online database of reported errors found on your specific PC model number.
6) To get additional hardware configuration details about your computer system you can click on “+” next to each hardware component listed in the left pane.
7) When you have recorded all the necessary information about your PC’s BIOS, components and configuration details, you can close that window at any time by pressing “OK”, but do not exit from msinfo32.exe until step 10 is completed otherwise some hardware diagnostics features will not be available.
8) Click on the arrow next to “System” in the left pane and select “hardware history“, which is a new feature in Windows 7. If your Windows version doesn’t have this, then hardware diagnostics will not be available.
9) In the right panel, scroll down until you find the BIOS date, BIOS version, and BIOS manufacturer which you recorded in step 5.
10) Right-click anywhere on the hardware history list and select “Save all information” from the dropdown menu. This allows you to save a Hardware_Settings_Summary.txt file that will be stored in your Documents folder by default so it can be opened with any text editor or word processor program.
11) A hardware settings summary will be saved automatically in your Documents folder which contains the following six sections: General, BIOS, Devices, Resources, Connections, and Up Time. You can attach this file to an email when reporting errors to an online database of reported problems found on your specific PC model number.
12) Launch your web browser and go to the following address to find out if there are any reported errors for your specific computer model number: http://h10025.www1.hp.com/ewfrf/wc/document?docname=c00447551&cc=us&lc=en. If this link does not work, access the website of the PC manufacturer.
13) Once you have verified that your PC has a hardware issue, contact HP or your computer manufacturer for support. Don’t forget to include the hardware settings summary file when contacting them so they can better assist you in solving any problems with your computer’s hardware.
Hardware Diagnostic Tools
Hardware diagnostic tools provide information on the hardware configuration of a computer, while fault-finding tools are specialized in testing components. They are not only used by technicians to find out why your system is experiencing problems but also by users who would like to know which part they should replace when performing some hardware upgrade.
Diagnostic tools as well as some fault finding tools are software components of system utilities, which can also include other functions such as hard disk partitioning or backup.
In the list below you will find a short description of what each tool is for and what kind of data it provides.
Note: many diagnostic and fault finding tools come with more hardware diagnostic tools
– Hardware information software, such as HWiNFO (see below)
– Memory test tool, such as Memtest86+ (see below)
– Hard disk test tools, such as HD Tune (see below) Also note that many of these tools can be very useful for finding out the condition of your drive when purchasing a new one. The value of this cannot be overstated, especially when buying online where you can’t physically see what condition the bar code is in.
– Hard disk partitioning tool, such as EASEUS Partition Master (see below)
– S.M.A.R.T status checker for your hard drive, such as Crystal DiskInfo (see below)
– Video card stress test, such as FurMark (see below)
Fault Finding Tools
These tools are specialized in testing components. They will typically provide detailed diagnostic information on the hardware part they are testing. For example, HWiNFO provides very detailed information about your system hardware while Memtest86+ will test your computer’s memory.
HWiNFO is a hardware information and diagnostic tool compatible with all 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, and 8. It provides very detailed information about the hardware installed in your system including CPU, chipset, PCI devices, USB devices, BIOS, GPU, and more.
After you have installed HWiNFO on your system, it is recommended that you check the option “Enable Info Tips” under Options > General to learn more about the hardware components detected by this tool.
For example, if you click on one of your RAM modules HWiNFO will show information about the type of module, the manufacturer, and even the serial number of that specific memory stick.
Note: you can make HWiNFO run automatically at Windows startup by selecting this option under Options > General.
Memtest86+ is a BIOS-based memory testing software, unlike other testing programs that must run within Windows. It does not have a graphical user interface. Instead, it runs in console mode and will show the results of the memory testing program at startup. You can then save the test results to a text file or reboot your computer.
The memory testing algorithm used by Memtest86+ is very thorough but extremely slow compared to similar software designed for Windows. Depending on your hardware it can take up to 2 hours to test one gigabyte of RAM.
If you are looking for faster memory testing software, consider using the Windows-based Memtest86 instead.
CrystalDiskInfo is a very useful free hard disk drive monitoring software providing information about your hard drive’s health, S.M.A.R.T status, and more in a highly accessible interface:
The application also includes a powerful partition manager enabling you to perform things such as creating, deleting, or resizing the partitions on your computer with ease:
You can download CrystalDiskInfo here.
HD Tune Pro
HD Tune is a hard disk drive testing program that comes with many useful functions such as measuring the performance, analyzing S.M.A.R.T attributes, or benchmarking your hard drive in order to name just a few examples:
One of its main advantages over similar software is that it can be used to benchmark your hard drive in a sequential or random access pattern and measure its transfer speeds:
You can download HD Tune from its official website.
EASEUS Partition Master
Partition alignment is very important for optimal disk performance. This is because the hard drive’s read/write head needs to jump from one physical block of data to another. If your partitions are not properly aligned, it will take longer for the read/write head to find the data thus slowing down your entire hard drive.
This is why using a partition alignment tool like EASEUS Partition Master is highly recommended before creating any partitions (either new ones or resizing existing ones) on your computer system.
EASEUS Partition Master comes with many useful features such as resizing, moving, or deleting partitions on your hard drive without data loss. It also enables you to merge two adjacent partitions into a bigger one and fix various disk errors (unallocated space, logical bad sectors, cross-linked files, etc.).
You can download this program from its official website.
CPU-Z is a free Windows-based CPU identification utility designed to provide system information about your computer’s main hardware components including CPU, chipset, graphics card, memory, motherboard, etc.:
With the help of this software, you can easily check the vendor, model name, and other important details of your computer’s hardware as well as real-time information about your system’s main components.
You can download CPU-Z from its official website.
GPU-Z is an interesting free GPU identification utility designed for all modern graphic cards:
In addition to just providing basic information such as the vendor, device ID, and clock speed of your graphics card, you can also use this application to measure the GPU/memory/shader temperatures and check voltage readings:
You can download GPU-Z from its official website.
MSI Afterburner is a free overclocking software for MSI branded graphic cards enabling you to control many settings of your NVIDIA or AMD based graphics card:
One of the most important features that this program enables is to set clock speeds, fan speeds or voltages manually. This means that you are able to create custom fan speed profiles or increase the GPU/memory clock speeds by a significant amount without having any issues with your hardware.
You can download MSI Afterburner from its official website.
GPU Caps Viewer
GPU Caps Viewer is a free GPU monitoring program designed to display the most relevant information about your graphics card:
The application comes with an easy to use interface and displays information such as driver version, rendering device, OpenGL API used, Shader model version, transistor count, and more:
You can download GPU Caps Viewer from its official website.
Although GPU-Z is a great tool for checking some basic information about your graphics card, more advanced users might want to try something more powerful such as GPU Shark which comes with many additional features:
For example, this application displays the temperature and clock frequencies of both the GPU core and shader domain. The program will also show performance statistics like memory usage, polygon count, GPU load percentage, etc.:
You can download GPU Shark from its official website.
GPU Caps Viewer (NVidia users)
For NVidia users, it is strongly recommended to use NVIDIA Inspector for checking the most important details about your graphics card:
This powerful tool comes with an intuitive GUI providing you with real-time information about GPU core, shader and memory clock speeds, fan speed, temperatures/VIDs (in case you use programs like MSI Afterburner or EVGA Precision to overclock your graphic card), voltage readings (only if you use special models like for example Palit or Gainward cards), shader performance, 3D load times, etc.:
You can download NVIDIA Inspector from its official website.
GPU-Z (AMD users)
If you are an AMD user, it is recommended to use GPU-Z for checking the most important details about your graphics card:
This great tool displays detailed information regarding the GPU core, shader domain, and memory clock speeds of your graphics card. You can also check the GPU load, fan speed, BIOS version, etc.:
You can download GPU-Z from its official website.
GPU Shark (AMD users)
For AMD users, it is recommended to use the free GPU Shark for real-time monitoring of your graphics card.
This application displays detailed information regarding the GPU core, shader domain, and memory clock speeds of your graphics card. In addition, you can see temperatures/VIDs (in case you use programs like MSI Afterburner or EVGA Precision to overclock your graphic card), voltage readings (only if you use special models like for example Palit or Gainward cards), shader performance, 3D load times, etc.:
You can download GPU Shark from its official website.
The programs listed in this article provide you with the possibility to check the most important details about your hardware, overclocking abilities, and GPU load. You can use them for free and they come with intuitive GUIs making it much easier to understand their features and capabilities