The old makeshift metric of “Can It Run Crysis?” doesn’t hold water anymore.
There have been several applications developed to find a more accurate way of testing the latest GPUs, but there are different ways to perform these tests and a lot more different types of GPU benchmarking software available.
In this guide, we will give you a closer look into a few of those and help you figure out the best GPU benchmarking software for 2021.
First of all, you should know why we’re even using benchmarking software and why you need to know what the best one is. There’s a variety of reasons why you would benchmark your GPU, but usually, the main one is knowing how much intensity your graphics card handle.
You could be looking for bottleneck issues in your machine, or you just want to test your brand new GPU and compare it with other users. It could also be that you’re overclocking your card and wondering just how close to the limit you managed to push it.
We also need to talk about different methods of benchmarking. On the surface, it may seem like a simple stress test, but if we dig a little deeper, there are clearly two separate ways of benchmarking your graphics cards.
Synthetic Benchmarks are artificial programs constructed to try to match the characteristics of a large set of programs. For this reason, they’re also called Artificial Benchmarks.
The aim is to create a single benchmark program where the execution frequency of statements in the benchmark matches the statement frequency in a large set of benchmarks. The results will usually be presented in a score/points, but this doesn’t give gamers what they really want to know – the frame rate.
Real-time Benchmarking provides exactly that. This type of benchmarking is also called Real-World Benchmarking as it can be done to test specific games and provide accurate FPS, which is why gamers go for this sort of test in the first place.
It should be noted that, even with both benchmarking methods, you may still have a poor frame rate despite having a high-quality graphics card. This is probably the result of a bottleneck somewhere else, like CPU or RAM.
Let’s look at some of the best GPU benchmarking software out there.
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This is probably the top result of almost any related benchmarking software search. It’s produced by a software company called Futuremark which develops various benchmarking tools for both business and home use.
What’s cool about 3DMark is that there is a free version available, although if you plan on using a benchmarking tool regularly, it’s probably worth trying the Advanced Edition. You can also use this version if you’re looking to test for 4K settings as that preset is only available there. There is also a Professional Edition, but that one is for business use.
3DMark displays detailed charts for temperatures (both CPU and GPU) and shows how clock speed and frame rates change during the tests. The best part of this software is that it recognizes the hardware you own and assigns you a suitable benchmark test.
It’s also available for Android and iOS platforms, which is a big plus.
PassMark is fast and easy to use, which is pretty much a good benchmark for any software (pun intended). PerformanceTest can benchmark your CPU, 2D/3D graphics, Memory, Storage and CD drive via 28 standard benchmark tests across 6 suites. A detail which many highly-involved tech nerds will love is the ability to create your own custom tests.
The biggest downside of PerformanceTest is that while it technically comes in two versions, free and paid, the free one is barely a skeletal representation of the full edition. Practically useless.
However, paid version of PassMark is considered one of the best benchmarking tool because its very intensive and thorough.
This is a very intensive GPU benchmarking tool. The fact that it is primarily a GPU benchmarking software is probably what separates it from the others. It’s designed to produce very heavy and prolonged stress tests for the graphics card and can be used to accurately measure the stability of it.
Another reason why this might be the best tool for overclockers is the ability to keep an eye on the GPU cooler and see how much it can handle when pushed to the limit.
FurMark is a GPU benchmarking software for cards that are OpenGL compliant – this is the vast majority of GPUs so don’t fret about that. This tool can also be used to monitor the temperature. As such, it’s useful for overclocking.
While FurMark (also known as GPU Burner) is free, it’s only available on Windows platform. Still, this is enough to be among the top used benchmarking apps out there.
This may be thought of as just another free GPU benchmarking software, but it’s far more than that. Unfortunately, the stigma of ‘free software’ still exists, but GFXBench is doing its best to fight it.
It’s an excellent tool with specifically designed tests for different uses and the best part about it is that you can compare the performance of your graphics card to pretty much any other.
As seen above, GFXBench offers the possibility to test across a multitude of different platforms and compare the performance against other systems.
Coming to you from the makers of Heaven, Superposition is another great showing. It tests for high-grade visuals using UNIGINE 2 Engine and best of all – it’s free. It can also compare the performance of your graphics card on the Unigine leaderboard.
It also comes with some cool mini-games that you use to directly check how your GPU performs when playing.
Although primarily a CPU benchmarking software, this tool is awesome for GPU testing as well. It’s unique because it can render an image and compare it with various different “real-world” tasks. It does so because image rendering is often tasked with CPU.
As a result of this CPU-centric benchmarking, Cinebench uses much larger and complex test scenes than other GPU benchmarking tools. A very impressive thing is that it can test up to 16 cores of your processor.
Last, but certainly not least, we have MSI’s overclocking tool. It’s freeware and if you’re confused about the MSI label don’t worry, you can use it on pretty much any graphics card, regardless of the manufacturer.
It allows you to monitor the performance of your GPU while in-game; there is a transparent overlay while you play. How cool is that? It might seem intrusive at first, but there’s no more effective way to assess the work of your machine.
One of the coolest features of Afterburner is the ability to control fan speed. If that seems useless to you, remember that bumping the fan speed from 50% (usually the default setting) to 75-100% can make a game go from system-crashing to perfectly stable and playable.
Afterburner needs an additional stress test tool called MSI Kombustor to be installed, but it’s quite easy and integrates well with the best part of this software – overclocking.
MSI Afterburner allows you to overclock your GPU manually as well as run an overclocking analysis test which gives you a great overview of exactly what your graphics card is capable of. When combined with Kombustor, you can see in pretty much real-time the improvement that your card is making.
Alright, it’s time to pick a winner. Drum roll, please.
The Best GPU Benchmarking Software Right Now
MSI Afterburner is our choice for the best GPU benchmarking software of 2021. It’s specially designed for GPUs and it’s a nearly perfect tool for overclocking.
Of course, this is only our choice. You’re free to have a different preference and you should consider your needs and budget for this.