Windows Vista introduced a functionality named Windows Experience Index that ran a number of benchmarks to test a few key factors that affect computer performance and assigned a score to each. The lowest score, indicated by a number ranging from 1.0 to 6.9 in Vista and 7.9 in 7, was then given as the overall score. On Windows Vista and 7, it was possible to access this functionality from the Computer properties screen, but since advanced users would continue to use other benchmarking solutions and normal users didn’t care all that much about it, it was removed from there since Windows 8.
However, it is still possible to access it from the command line and generate a log file. Running it allows to determine if your computer has some hardware weakness that’s bottlenecking its full potential and plan possible future upgrades.
The program underlying the Windows Experience index is Windows System Assessment Tool, or WinSAT for short. To run it, open a Command Prompt by opening the start menu and typing cmd. Click on it to launch the application.
Once the command prompt window opens, type winsat prepop to initialize the application. This will open a new command prompt window. Don’t touch it. When the application has finished running, the second window will close automatically. Type winsat formal -xml %homepath%\documents\scores.xml to run the test proper. It’s possible that your computer will feel a bit laggy while all the tests are running. That’s normal, because a benchmarking utility is designed to use all the power a computer is capable of.
NOTE: Running WinSAT as a normal user will open a new Command Prompt window that will close when the assessment is complete. If ran as administrator, it will run on the same window and the Command Prompt will stay open even after the evaluation.
Seeing your scores
After a few minutes (2 on a capable machine and up to 10 on older hardware) the WinSAT command prompt window will close. When this happens, WinSAT has finished testing and has written the results to an XML file named scores.xml in your Documents folder. Open it using a web browser like Chrome or Edge or an XML editor like XML Notepad 2007. Look for a section named WinSPR: it includes all of the scores for your computer.
Reading the results
- SystemScore is the overall score assigned to your computer. It’s equal to the lowest score it attained in all tests;
- MemoryScore represents the evaluation of how speedy your RAM is. On newer computers using DDR3 or DDR4 RAM, this value should be around or higher than 8;
- CpuScore and CpuSubAggScore determine how fast your processor is;
- VideoEncodeScore reflects how good your graphics card or processor is at encoding video;
- GraphicsScore determines how fast your graphics card or processor is at rendering 3D graphics;
- Dx9SubScore, Dx10SubScore and GamingScore aren’t available any longer on Windows 10. Instead of being run, they’re assigned automatically a score of 9.9. To my knowledge, there’s no way to circumvent this behaviour;
- StdDefPlaybackScore and HighDefPlaybackScore determine if your computer is capable of playing back standard definition (480p) and high definition (1080p) video. They’re not assigned a numeric score, but a TRUE or FALSE value;
- DiskScore is how fast your storage devices are.