At a Glance
- Small and swift; Accurate and efficient; Free
- Prefers newer hardware; Pro version overpriced.
Who is the weakest link? Find the slacker inside your system with this freebie.
Why is that puny game crashing your power rig? Which component
is getting pushed over the edge? Is it your watt-thirsty video
card? The overclocked CPU? The interleaved banks of exotic RAM?
Finding out the limits as you fine-tune a system can be harder than
you might expect. HWMonitor can help.
Newer motherboards provide helpful feedback when things go
wrong, but gaining access to the diagnostics often requires a
reboot into BIOS or some other disk trickery. Stability problems
that arise in demanding, high-load situations aren’t likely to
reveal themselves during idle diagnostic states. This is where
HWMonitor steps in, providing real time, dynamic feedback on the
temperature, voltage and operational status of system’s main board
and subsystems, such as video cards, fans and batteries.
You can run HWMonitor side by side with a stress-test benchmark
(such as Cinebench) or suspect game, watching the temperatures rise
until a crash predictably repeats. Is the video card showing a
spike before the blue screen? Does your CPU get hot
enough to make s’mores? Chances are you just found your
problem. HWMonitor also maps out power usage in detail, allowing an
easy means to determine whether a particular component is
overwhelming the system; for example, a new video card that draws
more current at peak load than an old power supply can reliably
provide, triggering intermittent reboots.
Has your system suddenly become stealthy when it used to groan
and moan? Don’t be happy; be worried. That newfound silence might
be an ill omen. HWMonitor helps here by telling you if a crucial
fan has gone offline or is running abnormally. Remedying the
situation can be as simple as unblocking a vent, reseating a cable,
or clearing out a dust-choked grill–a small price to pay given the
consequences. The cost of cooked CPUs and replacement motherboards
adds up fast.
Handy as it is, there are eccentricities in the code. Some
hardware configurations pose problems for HWMonitor. For example,
several AMD processors stopped reporting internal temperatures on
an ASUS test system when the motherboard core unlocking feature was
enabled. This problem disappeared when default CPU settings were
used. For the most part however, operation was flawless.
A pro version for IT professionals features remote operation,
superior logging capabilities and graphing, but weighs in at a
steep 19.95, almost $30 USD at the time of this writing. For
most users, the free Basic version has all the information and
features they will ever need. Given this goodness, recommendation
is an easy call. HWMonitor is a utility that belongs in every
computer user’s toolbox.