How to evaluate the performance of a computer system

There are many criteria that can be used to evaluate the performance of a computer system. Many operating systems have built in performance analysis tools that monitor things like CPU and RAM usage and record errors in a log. Criteria to test the performance of a computer system are outlined below…

Functionality Testing

A system should be able to open, close and run applications smoothly and without errors. If applications work as intended, this is a sign that the system’s performance is acceptable. If applications are slow to open, freeze or produce errors during use, it’s possible the system isn’t powerful enough to run the application smoothly or else has corrupt drivers or files which may be impacting performance. In order for a system to be useful, you should also check that the correct time, language and keyboard settings are in place and all desktop icons and applications work.

System Resource Monitor

Many operating systems come with performance task managers and resource monitors which analyse CPU, Memory, Disk and network usage in real time. These applications typically display usage as a % of maximum capacity…. if a CPU is running at 100% permanently (even though you have no applications open) it’s a sign that something is wrong. Similarly if RAM usage is high without any software applications open, it suggests either RAM-hungry applications are running in the background or else the system needs a RAM upgrade.

Device Manager

Windows comes with a built in utility called device manager which lists all installed hardware and their drivers. If hardware isn’t recognised or doesn’t have a recognised driver, it will be flagged as ‘unknown’ and it could be a sign that that device may not be functioning properly. It may need a new driver or an incorrect driver could be installed which isn’t compatible with the device.

Check for Noise

If a system is noisy, it could have problems dissipating heat due to poor ventilation or a built up of dust in it’s internal components.┬áRemoving the system’s casing and visually inspecting fans should give clues if dust is an issue. Making sure any vents on the system are kept unobstructed can also improve air flow and reduce noise. For example if a system has fans to the rear but the system is placed up against a wall, this can cause the system to overheat or become extremely noisy.

Security Scans

Running anti-malware and anti-virus checks regularly from reputable providers will help to detect and remove any malicious applications or files on a computer system. Malicious applications can often slow down a system and compromise its security settings, resulting in a loss of control over the system for the user which leads to frustration, especially if the system has shown no obvious signs of being infected. Web browsers redirecting to spammy or unfamiliar websites is a good indication that malware has been installed on the system.