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How to Stress-Test CPUs and PCs (Like We Do)

System: MSI Kombustor & OCCT

MSI Kombustor Does It All

MSI’s Kombustor comes with a CPU stress test, but it doesn't leverage AVX instructions. As a result, Kombustor only generates about 110W, which is similar to the loads generated by demanding games. That's simply not good enough for a pure CPU test, so we're only trying it out in conjunction with Kombustor’s GPU stress test.

We like that the CPU and GPU test threads run simultaneously through the same application, which automatically gives them the same priority. Nevertheless, continue running the GPU stress test in windowed mode, unless you have a multi-GPU configuration.

MSI Kombustor GPU Core Burner

We start by generating the highest possible load for the GPU and running the CPU stress test concurrently. The results end up exactly as expected based on what we know about Kombustor.

CPU Package(PECI)Core AverageSensorSocketGPUDiodeCPU(Watts)GPU(Watts)System (Watts)
Measurement73°C65°C76°C64°C108W101W259W
Compared to Maximum85.9%76.5%73.1%100%63.5%100%72.5%
AssessmentMedium package temperatureMedium socket temperatureAverage memory temperatureMaximum GPU power consumptionSlightly higher than game-level CPU and system power consumption
Use forNormal system loadSimulation of the most challenging games

MSI Kombustor Memory Burner

MSI’s Kombustor with Memory Burner shifts the focus towards extensive graphics memory utilization, which is why we recommend it for enthusiasts looking to see if their system can handle the power consumption and heat generated by today's most demanding games.

CPU Package(PECI)Core AverageSensorSocketGPUDiodeCPU(Watt)GPU(Watt)System (Watt)
Measurement67°C66°C78°C64°C109W100W260W
Compared to Maximum78.8%77.6%75.0%100%64.5%99%72.8%
AssessmentSomewhat lower package temperatureMedium socket temperatureAverage memory temperatureAlmost maximum GPU power consumptionSlightly higher than game-level CPU and system power consumption
Use forNormal system loadVery good simulation of the most challenging games

OCCT Power Supply

OCCT Power Supply generates CPU and GPU loads capable of taxing your PSU. At least that's the idea.

Tests like this one, which generate game-like power-consumption numbers, are used to optimize cooling solutions and fan curves. If everything in your PC works well up through this point, then OCCT Power Supply can be used to help minimize noise levels by guiding you in the direction of optimized ventilation. Any task that pushes a PC harder than this can be dealt with by setting fan curves that get more aggressive under higher loads. Establishing the system’s absolute limit comes first, after which you can fine-tune performance with less-demanding tests like this one.

CPU Package(PECI)Core AverageSensorSocketGPUDiodeCPU(Watts)GPU(Watts)System (Watts)
Measurement64°C64°C68°C63°C108W98W266W
Compared to Maximum75.3%75.3%65.4%98.4%63.9%97%74.5%
AssessmentLow package temperatureMedium socket temperatureAverage memory temperatureGame-level GPU power consumptionSlightly higher than game-level CPU and system power consumption
Use forNormal system loadVery good simulation of the most challenging games


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  • WINTERLORD
    Is this like a fancy water cooler im guessing? what about a typical AIO cooler. In fact i have a skyth fuma but may save up to get some kind of AIO water cooling been tryin to find decent reviews on decent water coolers both cheap and if needed high end. not no alpha cooler though lol
    Alphacool Eisblock XPX ($73.99 On Newegg)
    Alphacool Eiszeit 2000 Chiller
    Reply
  • FormatC
    This is a high-end compressor cooler for up to 1500 watts heat input. It's a modified version from industry and mostly used to cool the head of powerful laser cutters. Why I'm using this one? To show, which program is able to do it right. If you have additionally limitations from coolers, thermal throttling and other funny things, you will never see the exact difference. I can keep a constant water temperature of 20°C to make all the test results comparable. ;)
    Reply
  • Th_Redman
    What did you guys put on the hotdog after testing? A little mustard, ketchup, relish, sauerkraut...? LOL.
    Reply
  • WINTERLORD
    is actually a great article one can resort reference too. Good Job!
    Reply
  • aquielisunari
    I use Aida, Prime 26.6, Superposition, UserBenchmark, MSI's kombustor and I no longer use Heaven. I may be forgetting a couple. But something has always felt a little off. I finally see what it was. My build was missing a hotdog and its bun. I always do love learning from the pros. I placed it on a piece of parchment and instantly I notice a difference.

    I routinely check temperatures, loads and other info from my system. I also stress test with different CPU and GPU benchmark/stress test software. Thanks for the info. Page bookmarked.
    Reply
  • CompuTronix
    As the author of the Intel Temperature Guide - http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/id-1800828/intel-temperature-guide.html - I can fully appreciate how much work went into creating this outstanding article, which has been sorely needed!

    Since most users test their rigs without a sense of scale for power and temperature, they can't compare apples to apples, especially when combined with major variables such as differences in ambient temperature, hardware configurations and software utilities. This article provides a perspective and some excellent comparisons.

    The Intel Temperature Guide differs in its approach toward the topic of processor Core temperatures and cooling with respect to Intel's TDP specifications, and distinguishes between steady workloads for thermal testing versus fluctuating workloads for stability testing. Nevertheless, our results are very similar.

    However, since Intel validates their thermal specifications at a steady 100% TDP, it's most appropriate to select utilities that don't overload or underload the CPU. The only utilities I've ever found that come as close as possible to 100% TDP are Prime95 v26.6 Small FFT's as a steady workload for thermal testing, and Asus RealBench as a fluctuating workload for stability testing.

    Although the topic of Prime95 (with and without AVX) was covered, I would like to have seen RealBench included in your test suite,since it's widely accepted as an excellent utility for testing overall system stability, and uses a realistic AVX workload.

    Otherwise, great work! I was very pleased to read this article!

    CT :sol:
    Reply
  • cangelini
    20741319 said:
    As the author of the Intel Temperature Guide - http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/id-1800828/intel-temperature-guide.html - I can fully appreciate how much work went into creating this outstanding article, which has been sorely needed!

    Since most users test their rigs without a sense of scale for power and temperature, they can't compare apples to apples, especially when combined with major variables such as differences in ambient temperature, hardware configurations and software utilities. This article provides some excellent comparisons.

    The Intel Temperature Guide differs in its approach toward the topic of processor Core temperatures and cooling with respect to Intel's TDP specifications, and distinguishes between steady workloads for thermal testing versus fluctuating workloads for stability testing. Nevertheless, our results are very similar.

    However, since Intel validates their thermal specifications at a steady 100% TDP, it's most appropriate to select utilities that don't overload or underload the CPU. The only utilities I've ever found that come as close as possible to 100% TDP are Prime95 v26.6 Small FFT's for thermal testing, which is a steady workload, and Asus RealBench for stability testing, which is a fluctuating workload.

    Although the topic of Prime95 (with and without AVX) was covered, I would like to have seen RealBench included in your test suite, as it's widely accepted as an excellent utility for testing overall system stability, and uses a realistic AVX workload.

    Otherwise, great work! I was very pleased to read this article!

    CT :sol:

    That's an awesome resource, CT!
    Reply
  • WyomingKnott
    20740696 said:
    What did you guys put on the hotdog after testing? A little mustard, ketchup, relish, sauerkraut...? LOL.

    Thermal compound. Why not? People have used condiments between their CPUs and their coolers.
    Reply
  • FormatC
    Step 1 - Collect all what I need:

    Step 2 - Start the oven

    Step 3 - Enjoy!
    The benchmark:


    The complete review was so funny, but it was never translated :(
    Reply