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

powerMAX, Aida64 & Heavy Load


This first version of CPUID's combined CPU and GPU stress test appears somewhat incomplete. We don't say that because of the plain GUI or limited number of features, but rather because its loads are nowhere near high enough for a true stability test. Using overclocked graphics cards, powerMAX keeps on chugging long after more taxing games crashed. The application can’t be used as a cooling test either, since its loads just aren't high enough. Download powerMAX here.

Nevertheless, we'll revisit powerMAX in part two of this series to see if its combined GPU and CPU stress test might be beneficial.

Measurement64 °C79.6 °C71.5 °C67.3 °C96.2W
Compared to Maximum98.5%88.3%84.4%92.6%92.8%
Assessment- Just medium power consumption- High GPU temperature for cooling tests- Just medium memory temperature- Somewhat low VRM temperature
Use for- Supplemental stability test- Not really strong enough for true stress testing


At first glance, Aida64’s GPU stress test looks rather average. It doesn’t achieve high numbers in any of the disciplines we're looking at. But what makes the utility interesting is a GPGPU-based foundation. This means it produces a pure compute load, rather than falling back on furry cubes or donuts. Download Aida64's 30-day trial version here.

While overclocking, we saw computational errors from Aida64 when FurMark and OCCT were still running just fine.

Aida64 also works well as a monitoring application, since it can read many temperatures, fan speeds, voltages, clock rates, and power levels. The software even includes a number of benchmarks, making it a great option for those who want to be well-informed about their PC's health.

Measurement59 °C80.5 °C73.7 °C54.0 °C89.1W
Compared to Maximum90.8%89.3%87.0%74.3%85.9%
Assessment- Low power consumption- Too low GPU temperature for cooling tests- Comparatively low memory temperature- GPGPU instead of graphics load
Use for- Supplemental stability test (compute load)- Not really suitable for true stress testing

Heavy Load

Unfortunately, this application fails to live up to the expectations set by its name, in spite of being praised and linked by many sites. We’ll get back to it in part two of this series when we explore CPU and system stress testing. But it's simply not usable for GPU testing of any kind. Download Heavy Load here.

GPU utilization under Heavy Load stayed between 25 and 35%, reflected in our power consumption and temperature results. It can’t be used as either a stability test for overclocking or as a cooling test. Our measurement results really speak for themselves in this case.

Measurement50 °C53.1 °C55.0 °C49.7 °C37.2W
Compared to Maximum76.9%88.3%84.4%92.6%35.9%
Assessment- Too low power consumption- Too low GPU temperature for cooling tests- Too low memory temperature- Too low VRM temperature- No substantial load
Use for- Completely unusable

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 :)