Monday, January 17, 2011

HWMonitor, PC Health Monitor

In this entry I’m writing about an extremely handy software to monitor the health of your computer. If your pc is overheating or crashing due to voltage fluctuations then I've got the remedy for you. This software will report the status of the different components of your pc in real time and with very good accuracy.

Last summer I got a frantic call from a very distressed friend of mine whose computer was giving him more trouble than he can handle by himself, he was having frequent slowdowns while playing games, also stuff like system freeze and crashes were ruining his computing experience, as I was the one who assembled the system for him (god save me), it was up to me to figure out what was wrong. 
I went to his house and at first the system booted up fine, when watching movies it was fine, no issues, but 5 mins in game and the framerate of the game suddenly tanked, so I poked around a little bit, installed this handy software in his pc and saw that his processor was overheating like hell.
Armageddon? In your PC? Call the Exorcist!

 A little technical mumbo-jumbo

 Q: Why does system slowdown when it overheats?
A: Processor(will be referred to as cpu from now on) manufacturers like Intel and AMD design their cpus to work at certain temperature ranges, most intel cpus are designed to work at a maximum 100c, while some cpus have lower max temperatures(90c). AMD cpus work at 60c max but even that’s pushing it (not to worry though, amd cpus normally don’t get that high). This temperature is called TJmax by intel and Tcasemax by AMD, when your cpu hits this temperature the cpu clockspeed throttles down, i.e decreases, so the power consumption decreases, and elementary physics tells us as the power consumption decreases, so does the heat generation and hence temperature decreases, if temperature goes beyond Tjmax+20c the cpu shuts down to prevent damage to it or the socket that it sits in.

The software I used is called HWMonitor. This is a free software (although a paid version exist with remote features, it is not necessary for general users like us) available from Techpowerup website(Link given at the end of review).


     As you can see from the screenshot the software collects and reports a lot of information from your system, the fields are from top: 

    Motherboard Sensor field:(ASUSTeK Computer INC in my screenshot) This is the sensor that is present on your motherboard that reports various system voltage information collected from your hardware, the cpu vcore reports your cpu voltge, the +12, +3.3 and +5 volt  sensor reports the voltage of the respective rails of your power supply, if these three vary a lot from their default values then it may indicate a faulty or underperforming power supply. The temperature field indicate the temperature of some part of your motherboard (very low temps like the AUX in the above screenshot indicate a faulty sensor and should be ignored), the cpu temp showed here is also not accurate and should be ignored as well. The power and current field report the power and current consumption of your cpu.
    CPU Temperature field:(Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 in my screenshot) reports your cpu temperature, this is your actual cpu temperature and you should monitor this as I’ve stated above, anything above 80c for intel cpus and above 55c for amd cpus is a concern and should be immediately dealt with. 

        Hard disk Temperature field:(ST3500620AS and WDC WD5000AACS in my screenshot) denote the hard disk temperatures, this may be bit confusing as the hard disk model names look like Martian text, but if you see the temperature field says “Assembly” than its hard drive temperature, the max should be 35c for these (40c is the borderline)
          Graphic card Temperature field:(Radeon HD5850 in my screenshot) is for the Graphics card, the max should be around 80-85c for AMD and nVidia cards(except AMD HD4850/4870, and nVdia GTX480/470, these cards operate at 90c easily), if this temperature crosses a certain value beyond max the graphics card will throttle down like processors, and will shut down if it goes very high.

            UPS Status field:(Back_Ups ES650Y-IN in my screenshot) is for the UPS, some APC UPS(like ES650Y-IN) have the ability to report the battery states to system via usb and for those systems this software reports the Power consumption and battery voltage and capacity levels.

          Official description from the developer:

          HWMonitor is a hardware monitoring program that reads PC systems main health sensors : voltages, temperatures, fans speed.The program handles the most common sensor chips, like ITE® IT87 series, most Winbond® ICs, and others. In addition, it can read modern CPUs on-die core thermal sensors, as well has hard drives temperature via S.M.A.R.T, and video card GPU temperature.

          List of Supported Hardware:  If you have any of the following hardware, hwmonitor will report its state.

          CPUs on-die temperature sensors
          Intel® Core™, Core™ 2, Core™ i3/i5/i7 Digital Thermal Sensor.
          AMD® Athlon™ 64, Athlon™ II, Phenom™ and Phenom™ II Thermal Sensor.

          On-board sensor ICs
          Winbond® W83781D, W83793, W83627HF, W83697HF, W83791D, W83627THF, W83627EHF, W83627DHG.
          Nuvoton® W83795G.
          ITE® IT8705, IT8712, IT8716, IT8718, IT8720, IT8721.
          Asus® AS99127, ASB100.
          SMSC® LPC47M192, EMC6D102, EMC6D103, DME1737, EMC6W201.
          Analog Device® ADM1021, ADM1030, AMD1031, ADT7461, ADT7475, ADT7490, ASP0800.
          Fintek® F71805, F71808E, F71862, F71869, F71872, F71882, F71889.
          National Semiconductor® LM63, PC87366.
          Andigilog® ASC7621.
          Maxim® MAX1617.

          Customized hardware monitors
          abit® uGuru™ 2003 and uGuru™ 2005.
          AMD® SB600/SB700 PM2.
          Asus® EPU & EPU2 (Energy Processing Unit).
          Asus® ROG mainboards series.
          Gigabyte® ODIN™ power supplies monitoring.
          Intel® Management Engine (HECI).
          NVIDIA® ESA (Enthusiast System Architecture).
          VIA® 686A/B integrated monitoring.

          Laptops & Netbooks
          Battery voltage, capacity, wear and charge levels.
          Apple® MacBook™ and MacBook Pro™.
          IBM® Thinkpad™ series.
          Asus® eeePC™ 701, 901 and 1000H.
          Dell® Latitude™ D400, D600, D830.
          Compal® JHL90/91, IFL90/91.

          Hard Drive (SMART)
          Assembly, airflow and HDD temperature.
          USB hard drives (Cypress®, JMicron®, Sunplus® USB bridges).

          Video card monitoring
          NVIDIA® and ATI® GPUs temperature.

          Memory modules monitoring
          FB-DIMM integrated thermal sensor (Intel® 5000X/P/Z and 5400A/B MCH chipsets).

          ACPI Thermal Zone
          Download the most recent setup (1.17 as of now) from the links in left.

          Installation: Installation is pretty straight forward, just download and run the setup file, the program contains no virus or malware, there’s nothing to configure.

          Uninstallation: Uninstall from “Add or remove programs” panel in the Control Panel.


          1. I ofter face this problem. This is very helpful post for me. Thank you so much.

          2. This is very wonderful post. The pc monitoring software is really very nice. Thank you for the link of nice software.