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How to Stress-Test Graphics Cards (Like We Do)

MSI Kombustor

MSI’s Kombustor produces even higher loads and is a lot more flexible when it comes to test selection. The same rules apply: set a resolution so the output generally doesn't stutter, use full-screen mode for the highest possible loads, and run in full-screen to utilize more than one GPU.  Download MSI Kombustor here.

Torus GPU Core Burner

The crown for maximum power consumption goes to the GPU Core Burner component of MSI's Kombustor suite. This part gives you a choice between Torus and Donut, but it doesn’t matter which one you choose. Power consumption is pushed to the max either way. Do note that we’re talking about another power virus, so your card's driver might deliberately slow it down. But there's a reason for this. Always keep an eye on temperatures because GPU Core Burner generates a higher voltage converter load than any other application we've tested.

Measurement64 °C89.9 °C84.7 °C68.9 °C103.7W
Compared to Maximum98.5%99.8%100%94.8%100%
Assessment- Highest power consumption- High GPU temperature for cooling tests- Extremely high package temperature for stability tests- Comparatively high memory temperature- Loads are not realistic
Use for- Cooling and stability test- Establishing the maximum power consumption (power consumption limit)

Memory Burner

This part of the Kombustor suite stands out by producing the highest memory load we've measured, reflected in maximum waste heat and peak temperature. Incidentally, our Radeon RX 560 test subject exceeded its temperature limit by one degree under Memory Burner, meaning that it ran hotter than in any other test despite a third-place power consumption result (it was just 1.3W away from first place).

These two factors make Memory Burner an ideal memory and GPU cooling test. Furthermore, memory errors due to overclocking show up here more often than they would in a pure stress test. This is why we recommend Memory Burner.

Measurement65 °C81.0 °C78.1 °C72.7 °C102.4W
Compared to Maximum100%99.9%92.2%100%98.7%
Assessment- Extremely high power consumption- Highest GPU temperature for cooling tests- Somewhat low package temperature- Highest memory temperature- Loads are not realistic
Use for- Cooling and stability test (GPU and memory)- Establishing the maximum power consumption (power consumption limit)

MORE: Best Graphics Cards

MORE: Desktop GPU Performance Hierarchy Table

MORE: All Graphics Content

  • phobicsq
    Doesn't hwmonitor cost money?
  • FormatC
    HWiNFO is free :)
  • Th_Redman
    Great article of information Igor(and Tom's, of course). I use a number of these stress tests and your article listed some I've never heard of or read about, so thank you.
  • Jay E
    But did you eat the egg?
  • Unolocogringo
    Very nice article to point newbie overclockers towards. You have to have some basic understanding if you want to overclock successfully.
    I have overclocked everything possible since my first overclock.A pentium 75mhz I overclocked to 90mhz. This was mid to late 1996. I learned how to do it from This site. Toms Hardware ( back then).
    Since I overclock every thing to stable 100% load 24/7/365 for Folding@Home and occasional gaming, It must be 100% stable for correct folding results. And of course gaming with my son and grandson.
    I use most of the tests and tools you do, except for the fancy thermal images, to achieve this. Nice to know my testing methods are the Same as yours, but mine last 36 to 48 hours on final overclock settings before being put into service.

    Overclocking is a serious affliction , even my non overclockable SuperMicro 2p server board is overclocked from 2.5 to 3.0 on all 8 cores and folding away for years. :)
    Enjoyed your article and testing methodology explained. Thanks
  • ddferrari
    For my uses (gaming, surfing) I see no reason to push a component to its power or thermal limit via synthetic tests. All that does is shorten its life span. I don't care if my OC fails during a multiple hour, unrealistic load. If it runs fine during real-world usage then I'm satisfied.

    All my components are overclocked, and I test them for stability the old fashioned way: I USE them. They key is to overclock only one component at a time and see if problems arise while gaming. I keep bumping up the OC until an issue pops up- then I know where the maximum lies.

    There seems to be a lot of monkey-see-monkey-do going on around the internet these days.
  • stonedwookie
    We dont care about the stats what we want to know is did the eggs taste good?
    what would you rate the eggs ?
  • FormatC
    The egg got only three-stars rating (3/5).

    The reason why:
    It was simply too long for my taste and it is a real pain to look over such a long time at this egg if you are hungry :P
  • Co BIY
    What is the best thermal paste to use for a mining rig omelet pan?
  • FormatC
    Olive Oil. The best taste :)