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I want to measure performance of my RayTracer and I want to create some ideal test conditions on my PC. I am using Windows 7.

Is there some application, which can turns the system into "measurement mode"? I mean, some scenes will be rendered several hours and I would like to every test has exact the same conditions as previous test. There are many issues like random reading from disk, antivirus scanning, etc...

So, is there a way to start Windows 7 in some light mode - running just with necessary processes?

Hope you understand my needs.

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2 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Don't forget to check the bottom of my answer too.

You will want to follow the Performance Testing Guide which instructs in details how to prepare your system for Performance Testing. It takes a lot of into account: From the impact of your hardware, installing your OS fresh, tweaking it, capturing a baseline trace to the actual testing. Definitely worth reading if you take scientific measuring seriously. Here is its extensive table of contents:

Introduction
Windows Performance Testing Challenges
  Background Tasks
  Scheduled Tasks
  Memory Management and SuperFetch
  Performance versus Power
Performance Test Design Considerations
  Automating User Presence
  Testing End-User Scenarios
Effects of Hardware on Performance
  CPU
  RAM
  Type of Storage Device
  Graphics Subsystem
Recommended Test Methodology
  Step 1. Set Up the Operating System
  Step 2. Set Up the Test Software
  Step 3. Run Windows Update
  Step 4. Reboot the System
  Step 5. Download Windows Defender Definition Files
  Step 6. Disable Windows Update
  Step 7. Calculate the Windows Experience Index
  Step 8. Reboot the System
  Step 9. Let Windows Defender Build a System File Cache
  Step 10. Disable User Account Control
  Step 11. Complete Indexing
  Step 12. Use SuperFetch to Train the System
  Step 13. Complete Idle-Time Tasks
  Step 14. Disable System Restore
  Step 15. Review Scheduled Tasks
  Step 16. Run the Test
Best Practices
  Best Practices for Designing Performance Tests
  Best Practices for Running Performance Tests
Resources
Appendix. Scheduled Tasks

You will also want to check out GPUView which can definitely help ironing out performance issues in your ray tracer. If you do, the presentations listed at the bottom go into quite some details, perhaps you might be able to find its video recordings if the slides aren't enough.

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Thank you very much Tom! –  relaxxx Apr 30 '12 at 19:52
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Use a clean install with your render software. If there is an existing install, then you can try to shut down every single process manually in taskmanager and in the msconfig window (press start and type msconfig) you can prevent applications from starting up at boot.

I've done some benchmarking myself and I would always use the same install image before running every test. (clean install it)

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