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I recently bought a secondhand PC to use as a Home Theatre PC. It is mostly used for streaming online video like Netflix and Youtube but also runs Plex Media Server.

On paper the hardware specs suggest that it should be more than capable of doing this.

  • MOB: ASUS M2N-MX SE Plus
  • CPU: AMD Athlon(tm) 64 X2 Dual Core Processor 6400+ (2C 3.21GHz, 3.22GHz IMC, 1MB L2)
  • RAM: 4GB DIMM DDR2 (400MHz)
  • HDD: Seagate ST3500320AS (500.1GB, SATA150, 3.5", 7200rpm)
  • GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GT 630 (96SP 2C 1.4GHz, 128kB L2, 2GB 1.59GHz 128-bit)

I've installed a fresh copy of Windows 7 and only installed the software I need - Chrome, Silverlight, Plex, video card drivers.

My performance issues are the CPU occasionally spikes to 100% causing Netflix to stutter and video playback through Plex, or even VLC can judder on some videos. I'm only running 720p and medium video quality on Netflix so in theory the system shouldn't be taxed.

Bandwidth is 10-15Mbit/s so no issues there. I've got an after market CPU cooler which keeps everything relatively cool, so it's not a thermal shutdown issue.

My Question How do I test or benchmark my system to make sure it's delivering the performance of a similar specced system?

The specs look fine to me on paper and I would have thought I'm not asking much from the hardware. But how can I tell that the hardware is working together properly/ performing optimally?

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If you want to find out what the actual culprit is, start with the Task Manager, Resource Monitor and Performance Monitor. All of which are built-in to Windows.

To compare against others' look into a benchmarking software package like PCMark. They offer result DBs, etc. to help you compare.

  • Just to add on the answer, you may want to also test the hardware individually. HDD testing is always recommended for 2nd hand PC (Usually the manufacturer have some testing software, or use something commercial like SpinRite from grc.com), and do Memory Test. – Darius May 6 '14 at 7:20

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