What is a benchmark and how to use it?

If you have read or watched a review of any smartphone, PC, or laptop at least once, you have probably come across the word “benchmark”. One device scored so-and-so points in so-and-so benchmarks – that’s good; another scored less – that’s bad. 

What is a benchmark? How can you tell which device is suitable and which is wrong? It’s time to get to the bottom of this. Benchmarks will help you find the best-optimized device that will support lightning roulette live stream and even the heaviest games. 

What is a benchmark?

If you thought that benchmarks are only used as a computer or smartphone performance test, here’s an interesting fact: they are not only used in device performance tests. The term “benchmark” itself is inclusive and is also used in economics, marketing, and trading, and it comes from geodesy.  

Where did “benchmark” or “benchmarking” come from first?

  • The word “benchmark” began to be widely used in the mid-nineteenth century and came from the arms industry. During the Industrial Revolution, each new armament achievement became a benchmark (reference point) for less advanced technologies.
  • In economics, benchmarking came from geodesy, where the word was reserved for horizontal marks used to measure levels. But in economics, a benchmark is the best financial indicator against which a company’s performance, return on investment, or transaction result can be compared. For example, stock indices are considered to be such benchmarks.
  • In marketing, benchmarks are used to assess competitors’ work efficiency to improve your indicators. Gradually the word became common and penetrated all spheres of economic and industrial activities, where comparison of any indicators with the best results is implied.
  • In the case of hardware tests, benchmarking is some complex task or set of tests to determine the maximum performance of computers. Benchmarks can be synthetic performance tests, graphics tests, gaming demos, read/write speed tests for drives – in short, anything that lets you evaluate the power of your computer or its components by benchmarking it against a benchmark.

Thus, a benchmark is an indicator or performance against which to compare a system’s performance or metrics. Benchmarks are also software tools and test suites that allow you to determine the performance of computer or smartphone components by comparing the result with competitors.

What are the benefits of benchmarks?

Why test computer performance at all? The simplest example is video games. To see if your computer can handle the latest projects, download a game demo with a built-in or graphics benchmark. It will measure your graphics card’s performance on complex 3D graphics.

Processors or memory of a PC are tested similarly – synthetic “parrots” (scores given by a benchmark at the end of the test) allow you to assess whether one processor is more modern and powerful than another or which of the variants of RAM is faster. Thanks to this, you can get an approximate impression of their speed.

The most significant benefit from all these measurements is when you plan to upgrade your computer’s components or buy a new laptop (or smartphone, for example). Tables and rankings of different benchmarks are often available online for review, so before buying, it makes sense to search the Internet for all the existing performance tests of a particular device, processor, graphics card, RAM/permanent memory or hard drive.

But do not blindly trust the results of synthetic tests. Understandably, the higher the results, the better, but often you don’t need maximum performance and speed to work properly. Also, depending on your occupation or the purpose for which you are buying the device, you should pay attention to how it works in real life, not in tests: how fast it opens applications or documents, loads pages on the Internet, processes photos, and so on.

Popular benchmarks 

3D Mark

One of the most popular benchmarks, in existence since 1998. Benchmark is constantly evolving and improving, taking into account all new developments, and supports three operating systems – Windows, iOS, and Android; that is, it is multiplatform.

The base version of the benchmark is free and includes three advanced graphical tests which enable you to assess the performance of your graphics card and CPU when processing complex 3D graphics.

GFXBench 

Another popular benchmark supporting several platforms: macOS support, has been added to Windows, iOS, and Android. The set of tests is based on the latest graphics technologies: Metal, Vulkan, and DirectX 12.

The benchmark also allows us to evaluate a device’s battery load and performance during long-term testing – the so-called stability test.

Unigine

A very flexible benchmark allows you to test different aspects of your PC’s performance in resolutions from 720p to 8K by selecting different quality settings.

Both free and paid tests are available for advanced users (especially those who like to overclock their CPUs to reach the highest possible performance), organizations and hardware manufacturers.

PCMark 10

A benchmark that runs a variety of spreadsheets, charts, documents, applications and web pages, simulating daily PC use.

Benchmark is very expensive, but its comparison table can be used as a visual tool to show the actual performance of modern processors in categories such as photo processing, video or working with documents.

Geekbench 5

A multiplatform benchmark that measures the performance of the processor, graphics and memory subsystem. Available on Android and iOS mobile devices as well as Windows and macOS.

Geekbench measures your processor’s single-core and multi-core power by running the most popular scenarios, from checking email to taking photos to playing music.

The test also lets you know if your system is fit for the most advanced technologies – augmented reality and machine learning.

CrystalDiskMark

A simple Windows benchmark that lets you quickly test the read and write speed of an SSD or HDD drive. It runs several sequential and randomized tests with different queue depths.

This allows you to evaluate the maximum possible performance of your drive, checking whether it matches the manufacturer’s claims. Using it on a clean system is recommended, with programs loaded for the best results.

Blackmagic Disc Speed Test

The most popular benchmark for macOS is from the manufacturer of professional cameras, devices and applications for film production. Especially useful for those who work with high-quality video, editing and colour correction.

The application runs large blocks of data through the drive (maximum – 5 GB) and allows you to assess which video formats your system can handle.

AJA System Test

A multiplatform benchmark is available for Windows and macOS. It allows you to evaluate the speed of reading and writing drives when rendering video content.

In the application, you can choose the expected video resolution, file size, colour depth, and check how fast your PC can handle such a file.

Summary

Now you know what benchmarks are, what they are for and how to use them. Thanks to them, you will be able to assess the performance of your PC without any difficulty, as well as compare it with other similar devices equipped with the same processors or graphics cards.

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