At a Glance
PC Benchmark is another entry in the category of "Push a button, get a number, tell your friends" benchmarking applications (See also 3DMark 11 Basic and PCMark Basic). Produced by Reviversoft, this free software seems to mostly be a way to encourage people to purchase the company's Registry Reviver registry cleaner software, as the only really actionable system problem reports is Windows registry issues.
As seen in the screenshot, PC Benchmark provides a single button. When you click it, a progress bar displays what the program's doing--checking CPU speed, checking for disk fragmentation, and so on. When it's done, you get a percentile reading, telling you how much of your computer's "potential" it is achieving. If you click the "Optimize Your PC" button, you are taken to a sub-section of Reviversoft's website (you must register with your name and email to view your information), where you can see graphs comparing your computer to all tested computers, to similar systems, or to your friend's systems--if you're logged into a supported social network, such as Facebook, and they use PC Benchmark.
You also get some basic information on what causes your score to be less than 100%, such as Registry Errors or Running Processes. If you then click "See The Solution," you will get a video. The solution to having too many running processes is to launch Task Manager and shut down any you think might not be needed--a dangerous bit of advice for most users, in my opinion, as this can lead to unpredictable results and possible data loss. The solution to disk fragmentation is to run the Windows defragmenter, which is reasonable enough. The solution to registry errors is to buy ReviverSoft's $30 registry repair program, Registry Reviver.
Most disappointing, to me, about PC Benchmark was the paucity of detail -- at least until I understood how it worked a bit better. What were my registry errors? (I have tried the demo of Registry Reviver, and it always seems out of sync with PCBenchmark; in my latest test, PC Benchmark reported 243 Registry Error and Registry Reviver over 1,000. It may be that PC Benchmark is only looking for errors in performance-affecting portions of the Registry.) Since PCBenchmark's progress bar reported scanning disk fragmentation, memory speed, and so on, why aren't these figures provided every time?
It did provide disk fragmentation data later in testing, because fragmentation was very high then. PC Benchmark has up to 10 tips it can provide about speeding your system, but will only show the ones which matter, that is, those which it detects are causing performance lag. While I'm a bit of a fiend for raw data, I can appreciate the PC Benchmark "don't waste the user's time with things that aren't slowing them down" approach, especially given that it's aimed at more casual users.
I also experienced some bugs when testing the beta, which have since been fixed. The presence of an encrypted drive on my system caused PC Benchmark to report wildly erroneous results. The team at ReviverSoft were prompt and helpful in fixing this, but in these days of custom computers, non-standard is the new standard, and given the lack of detail in the PCBenchmark reports, it's difficult to know whether it's truly testing your computer or stumbling over a configuration it didn't expect.
It's a free download, though, so there's little harm in checking out PC Benchmark, especially if you already have friends or coworkers using it and you want to benefit from the more social features of the site. It's not for anyone seriously interested in rating or improving their performance.