Best Free Hardware Monitor

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This free GPU Monitoring software is best for game lovers, as it can monitor the performance of Graphics card during gaming mode. The Build tab in this free GPU usage monitor software provides you build information of different hardware of your computer. You can view here the model name, manufacturing brand, code name, etc. Open Hardware Monitor allows you to display all details (temperature, storage space, clocking speeds, etc) of each individual component in your computer. You can display your temperatures on your taskbar for constant monitoring. E: sorry, I should note that Open Hardware Monitor doesn't have support for.

As we all know, anything that runs on electricity generates an amount of heat to some degree, whether it’s your television, mobile phone or desktop PC. And in the case of a modern computer, several parts inside can get incredibly hot, even up to the boiling point of water! Generally speaking, the hotter an electrical component operates, the shorter its lifespan could potentially be because of the extra stress it has to endure.

Computers have always had devices inside them such as heat sinks and fans to try and cool the hardware components down as much as possible and stop any problems related to excessive heat occurring. Sometimes though the processor, graphics card, power supply or even a hard drive might be getting hotter than needed because of inefficient cooling, dust build up or simply a faulty fan somewhere. The CPU could run into problems such as shutting down the system unexpectedly if it gets too hot.

Are you worried your computer might be running a little hotter than it should be, an overclocker trying to push the system to its limit, or just somebody who is curious to know how hot a certain hardware component is getting or if the cooling fans are running properly?

Most components inside a modern PC include some form of monitoring sensors that can tell you things like temperatures, power draw, fan speeds etc. One of the ways to find these values on most systems is in the BIOS. But obviously you’re not going to sit in there all day just to look at those values! An easier way is to use a Windows utility to get the information for you and then you can monitor things from the relative comfort of your desktop.

Here’s a selection of tools that can monitor your system hardware and give you information you might find helpful such as your CPU temperature, or cooler fan speeds, or even the output values of the power supply. Do note that this list is for hardware monitoring tools only, if you want a combined hardware information and monitoring program such as Speccy or HWInfo, then look at our other article which includes these tools.

1. HWMonitor

Made by CPUID who are also responsible for CPU-Z and PC Wizard, HWMonitor is a great tool for displaying the majority of your systems temperatures, fan speeds and voltages. There are no real options as such, apart from a function to save monitoring or SMBus data to a text file. 3 sets of values are displayed; the current values and the minimum / maximum values since the program was started.

What most people like about HWMonitor is the clear and easy to read layout of all the values in one window for you to quickly scan for what readings you’re looking for. It doesn’t do anything else like controlling fan speeds or setting warning alarms, but for a simple display of all the relevant values, HWMonitor is hard to beat. There is a setup installer or separate 32-bit / 64-bit portable versions available.

Download HWMonitor

2. Speedfan

Speedfan has been around a long time and is widely considered to be one of the best tools around to monitor just about every temperature, fan speed and voltage your system can provide and also control the speed of the fans if they run too slow or too fast and therefore noisy. Warnings can be set for the temperatures, there is S.M.A.R.T. information for the hard drives, and just about any value the program displays can be logged to a file. You can even set a trigger event of running a program or sending an email etc if a temperature reaches a certain value.

A graph is also available for any of the Temperature, fan speed or voltage readings you want to include. Speedfan does require a bit of setting up to get things configured to your liking, but there aren’t many other tools around with such control of fan speeds, alarms, logging etc. Sadly there is no portable version, but the installer contains no adware of any kind, so is well worth installing.

Download Speedfan

3. Open Hardware Monitor

We said previously that HWMonitor was hard to beat at displaying all the needed values in an easy to read window, well Open Hardware Monitor is probably the one tool that beats it and has been our clear favorite monitoring tool for a few years. In addition to temperatures, fan speeds and voltages, this tool can also display detailed CPU / GPU frequencies and load, memory information, hard drive storage space and remaining life and data throughput of SSD’s.

Add to that an optional plot graph for all available temperature sensors, and a desktop gadget that can display any value from the main window by right clicking on it and selecting “Show in gadget”, and you can see why Open Hardware Monitor is such a great program. Each value can also be renamed or hidden and some readings have a Parameter option to to adjust things like the offset etc. Open Hardware Monitor is a portable program and to get all the available readings make sure to run the program as Administrator.

Download Open Hardware Monitor

4. Core Temp

As the name suggest, Core Temp focuses mainly on providing accurate information for the core temperature values which are those from inside the CPU itself as opposed to the metal casing. There is also offset correction options and a Overheat Protection option which can set up notifications or sleep / hibernate / shutdown the machine when a certain temperature is reached. Owners of the Logitech G15 keybaord have an option to enable Core Temp readings on their LCD display.

The program doesn’t support older processors like Pentium 4 or Athlon XP, but does have an interesting plugin feature where you can add in things like a sidebar gadget, graphs and also the option to get real time temperatures sent direct to your Android smartphone. Be careful if using the installer version as it contains InstallQ adware, or simply use the 32-bit / 64-bit portable version by clicking on “More Downloads”.

Download Core Temp

5. Real Temp

Real Temp is similar to Core Temp in that it concentrates mainly on the core temperatures inside your Intel processor, not AMD. This is a different reading from the other single CPU temperature value found inside your BIOS. The “Distance to TJ Max” value could throttle or shut down the machine if it reaches zero, but the TJ Max value itself is actually unknown for most desktop processors, and therefore the options to edit this value are best left to experienced users.

A small benchmark can be performed using the XS Bench button and there are alarms that can be set for CPU and GPU temperatures. A reading for AMD or Nvidia cards can be turned on from the settings window as can temperatures in the system tray area. Real Temp is a portable only program.

Download Real Temp

6. Hardware Sensors Monitor

This program isn’t free and the full version is a rather pricey $34 if you want the extras of HDD S.M.A.R.T. and GPU monitoring or CPU throttling. The demo also only runs for 10 minutes at a time and has a 14 day limit, but Hardware Sensors Monitor can still be useful to quickly check the motherboard, hard drive, graphics card and CPU temperatures as well as fans speeds and voltages, complete with a couple of small graphs if you click on the arrow next to the section title.

There are options in the settings window to make corrections to the temperatures, and several alarms can also be configured, but probably isn’t worth troubling yourself with in the free versions 10 minute time limit. Only an installer version is available.

Download Hardware Sensors Monitor

7. OCCT

OCCT is not actually primarily a hardware monitoring program, but a system stress tester which is useful to run and see what temperatures your system reaches under maximum load. There is however, no need need to use that part of the program if you don’t want because one of the 2 main windows is a standard hardware monitor complete with graphs to display sensor information such as power / CPU voltages, both sets of CPU temperatures, various frequencies and also memory and CPU usage.

There are 3 different displays; graph, text or a mixture of both and extra values could be available in the settings which can be enabled or disabled. OCCT uses a built in version of HWMonitor to provide its values which can be changed to other 3rd party tools such as Aida64 or Core Temp. Portable or installer versions are available, but you can’t get rid of the awful color scheme!

Download OCCT

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Bob1 year ago

Are there any power supplies with heat sensors? I’m curious how fast that power supply fan needs to run. At 5 volts its totally inaudible. But what if its stressed?

Reply

Some of the Corsair PSUs have monitoring for all sorts of things, I have an AX860i and can see fan speed, temperature, load, efficiency, etc.

Reply
Simon2 years ago

CPUiD HWWizard used to be the best tool by far in my opinion then they dumped it for some reason and now their charging users to support the bs their puttin out here

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HWinfo does indeed trump all these.

Reply
Alex Edwards4 years ago

Also – MSI Afterburner good for graphs of GPU temps and stats for tuning

msi.com/page/afterburner

Reply

Good overview – Intel’s Exteme Tuning Utility very good too, with graphs etc – downloadcenter.intel.com/download/24075/Intel-Extreme-Tuning-Utility-Intel-XTU-

Reply
Chris Weller4 years ago

I want to install a program such as these, but I’m a bit confused about which of these might be “Gadgets” as opposed to programs or apps. I had “Gadgets” installed on my Windows 7 machine with all of this information and loved them, but was warned repeatedly not to install them again on my Windows 10 machine as they are unsafe.

I want an always on floating on the desktop solution.

Reply

As the screenshots show, these are all tools that have their own window on the desktop.

Monitoring

Something like Open Hardware Monitor has the option of a gadget which you can manually switch on.

MonitorReply
innn7 years ago

HWinfo kicks their ass.

Reply

your blog kicks ass, raymond!
really!
~rob :)

Reply
Th1eF`13 years ago

Nice tool Raymond!

Reply

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Are you looking for the best server hardware monitoring software? Do you need to monitor CPU usage, memory utilization, system temperature, disk space, and more?

Then you’re in the right place.

Best Free Hardware Monitor

In this guide, I list the best FREE and premium server hardware monitoring tools.

Why is server hardware monitoring important?

Hardware monitoring software is designed to monitor the health and performance of your hardware assets. Failed hardware can lead to poor server performance or even worse system outages, this can cause downtime for critical business systems. At a glance hardware monitoring can help with the following:

  • Identify server hardware health issues such as high temperature, bad disks or high CPU usage
  • Provide alerting and notification of server and hardware issues
  • Capacity planning and forecasting
  • Minimize server and application downtime

List of the best 7 Server and Hardware Monitoring Tools.

1. SolarWinds System Management Bundle

The system management bundle is a collection of four tools that give you complete visibility into server hardware and applications. These tools provide comprehensive monitors for the health and status of multi-vendor server hardware and hundreds of applications including SQL server, VMWare, Active Directory, Office 365 and more.

The management bundle includes the following tools:

Server and Application Monitor

The server and application monitor tool gives you the ability to monitor and inventory IT hardware and software assets. Monitor server CPU, memory, disk space, network utilization and more. This tool also provides basic monitoring of VMware and Hyper-V hosts and virtual machines. There are 1200 monitoring templates to help you quickly monitor server performance.

Virtualization Manager

The virtualization manager tool provides in depth monitoring, performance management, capacity planning and optimization for virtual environments such as VMware, Hyper-V, and Nutanix. One of my favorite features of this tool is you can monitor virtual hard disks and be alerted to disk space issues for zombie VMs, unneeded snapshots, and orphaned VMDK files. This can really help reclaim unused disk space.

Storage Resource Monitor

Get a comprehensive view of the performance and capacity of your storage environments. This tool provides a single pan of glass into all your storage devices making it easy to view capacity and monitor performance. This tool can monitor just about any SAN, NAS or storage device including HP, EMC, NetApp, Pure Storage, Nimble and more.

Web Performance Monitor

The Web performance monitor tracks user experience and tests web transactions for internal and external websites and web based applications. This tool will help you quickly identify slow or failing components down to the server, database or hardware level.

The System Management Bundle is a powerhouse set of tools that will help you monitor and manage critical server hardware and software assets. In addition, it gives you a single pane of glass to monitor server hardware and application performance. SolarWinds has a 30-day free trial Click here to Download Your Free Trial

2. PRTG

PRTG is best known for its network monitoring tools but it can also be used to monitor servers and hardware. You can monitor CPU, RAM, hardware drives, printers and more. It has built in sensors for vendors like HP, Dell, Cisco, and IBM.

All hardware data can be viewed from a centralized web based dashboard. Most administrators don’t have time to stare at a dashboard to monitor their servers and hardware. PRTG has an alert system that can send you a notification via email or text message on certain events. For example, when the CPU temperature reaches a certain threshold it can send an email notification.

The install process is easy and only runs on Windows servers. Once installed you can have it auto discovery devices to monitor by providing it a range of IPs to scan.

PRTG starts are $1750 for 500 sensors.

Website
https://www.paessler.com/server_monitoring_software

Monitor

3. Nagios XI

Nagios XI is a complete server and hardware monitoring solution. It can monitor Windows servers, Linux, Unix, Solaris, MAC and more.

Nagios is a flexible solution allowing the monitoring of servers with or without an agent. In addition to it’s out of the box monitoring it also has 3500 different addons available for monitoring your servers.

Key Features

  • Complete IT infrastructure monitoring
  • Customizable Web Interface
  • Server monitoring
  • Easy to use
  • Capacity planning
  • Alerts

Nagios comes in a standard edition starting at $1,995 and an enterprise edition starting at $3,495. Licensing is based on the number of nodes you have, each device with an IP address is considered a node and requires a license.

Website
https://www.nagios.org/

4. hwmonitor

HWMonitor is a great tool for monitoring computer hardware. The tool shows all of the monitored hardware on a single window. This tool can handle the most common sensor chips, can read modern CPUs on-die core thermal sensors and also read hard drive temperatures, and GPU temperature.

HWMonitor is a free tool. There is also a pro version that allows for remote monitoring, saving of data and improved interface.

Website
https://www.cpuid.com/softwares/hwmonitor.html

5 SysGuage

SysGauge is an easy to use hardware monitor for local or remote computers. This tool can monitor CPU usage, memory, disk space, disk activity, disk transfer rates, IOPS, for individual disks or all physical disk on a computer.

The SysGauge GUI provides a single customizable interface for monitoring a single task at a time. It does not have an advanced dynamic dashboard like other products such as SolarWinds that allows you to view multiple system resources across multiple systems. It does give you a quick view of resources one at a time. For example, if you want to see CPU usage you will need to click on the CPU usage on the left hand side.

This is a nice tool if you have a few systems you need to monitor. I do not consider this an enterprise level tool.

SysGuage comes in in a free version for up to 10 monitors, the Pro version ($50) allows for 50 monitors, ultimate version ($125) 100 monitors and the server version ($125) allows 200 monitors.

Website
https://www.sysgauge.com/

6. Zabbix

Zabbix is an IT infrastructure monitoring tool that can monitor server performance and track changes to the hardware. Zabbix is a free and open-source, it’s meant for big networks that don’t want to spend a fortune to monitor their systems.

Key Features

  • Templates for monitoring various server hardware
  • Auto discover assets
  • Server uptime reporting
  • Alerting
  • Configuration change auditing

Zabbix is available for Red hard, CentOS, Oracle Linux, Ubuntu, Debian, SUSE and Raspbian. Unfortunately, no Windows install.

Website
https://www.zabbix.com/

7. ManageEngine OpManager

ManageEngine OpManager provides multi vendor monitoring of server hardware and applications. Servers can be monitored by SNMP or WMI protocols to ensure system resources are performing as expected. OpManager will monitor server CPU, memory, processes, services, event logs, scripts, URLs and more.

Key Features

  • Real-time server performance monitoring
  • Server availability and health monitoring
  • Proactive server monitoring with multi level thresholds
  • Monitor application performance
  • Monitor VMware ESX servers and Guest OS performance
  • Windows services monitoring
  • Server process monitoring

Website
https://www.manageengine.com/network-monitoring/

The 10 Most Important Features for Effective Hardware Monitoring

Here is my list of the top 10 features a server hardware monitoring tool should have. In a business environment, you need a monitoring tool that will help quickly identify the root cause of an issue. To find the root cause you need to monitor all server resources to track performance, capacity planning and to potential hardware issues.

A premium server monitoring tool should include all of these features. To find the best solution that fits your needs I recommend you download a trial of multiple products to see what works best for you.

1. CPU Utilization Monitoring

When monitoring a server or any critical device you must monitor the CPU usage. Most performance issues are related to high CPU utilization or a lack of CPU resources. I like to see on my dashboard the top 10 systems by CPU usage. This is a quick way to see current CPU usage and spot any potential issue. Then I can click on one of the systems to get more details.

2. Memory Utilization

The next biggest performance killer is memory utilization. If your servers and applications don’t have enough memory they will have poor performance. Some products like SolarWinds SAM let you monitor memory by processes. This lets you easily identify exactly what is consuming all the memory on your servers.

Another reason I like to monitor the memory 24/7 on all systems is so I can effectively manage my resources. Sometimes vendors or other admins will say they need some ridiculous amount of memory on their server. I always recommend starting at a minimum amount of RAM then adding more if it is needed. Sometimes vendors will ask for 64GB of ram, so I’ll start them at 8 or 16 then monitor it. Most of the time I never need to add the amount of memory that is requested. If it is ever a question I can show them the monitoring reports to prove the server or application does not need the crazy amount of resources that they are requesting.

The above picture is a server’s memory usage for the last 12 hours. I’m using SolarWind SAM to monitor all my servers. I can quickly pull up the memory usage on any node being monitored. If someone asks about poor performance or requesting more memory I can look at the graphs and easily see if it needs more memory or not.

3. Storage and Disk Monitoring

If your server runs out of disk space then the server and applications will stop running. If your VMWare datastores run out of space all the VMs on that datastore may crash. Not good.

Best Free Hardware Monitor Windows 10

Slow running applications can be due to slow storage systems. All of these reasons are a good reason you should be monitoring your storage systems.

SolarWind storage resource monitor is one of the best storage monitoring tools I’ve seen. It can monitor SAN systems like HP, Nimble, Pure Storage, Dell, EMC and so on.

4. Monitor Bandwidth utilization

Knowing how much traffic is flowing in and out of your servers is another must have feature. When monitoring servers I always monitor the network interface cards on them so I can track how much data is being sent and received.

If someone reports a service or application being slow I can check the servers network interface to see how much traffic is going through the server. This makes it easy to determine if its a server issue or a network issue.

On my dashboard, I like to have a list of the top 10 interfaces by network traffic. This gives a quick overview of the top nodes by traffic on the network.

5. Historical Performance Logs

The server monitoring tool you pick should have the ability to record performance metrics for up to 30 days. This will come in useful when someone says “hey our applications were running really slow the other day”. or “between 7:00 PM and 8:00 PM it takes a really long time for our data to process”

By having historical performance logs you can go back to specific dates or time frames and see the performance of your servers.

For example, here is the CPU load on a server for the last 30 days.

Here are the last 7 days of the CPU and Memory load on a server

You can see over the last 24 hours this server CPU usage is very high but memory usage seems fine.

6. Alerts and Notifications

You can’t just sit and stare at a dashboard all day waiting to spot performance or hardware issues.

You need a solution that can alert and send you a notification through email or text messaging. You also need the ability to customize alerts and adjust threshold levels. You may want to get storage alerts when the disk has only 1GB of free space rather than getting alerts when it is 90% full.

Alerts and notifications can also get very noisy and overwhelming so you may want to start with just the critical alerts.

7. Customized dashboard

Most server and hardware monitoring tools come with prebuilt dashboards. The prebuilt dashboards are a great starting point but you want the ability to modify them. Each environment is different and if you have multiple administrators they may need to monitor different servers than you.

I’m a big fan of the top 10 lists. I’ve customized my dashboard to include things like

  • Top Nodes by CPU Usage
  • Top Volumes by disk space used
  • Top Interfaces by Traffic
  • Top nodes by packet loss
  • and so on

Customizing the dashboard to fit your needs is the fastest way to troubleshoot and be proactive on server and hardware issues. For example, I can quickly see when a servers hard disk is almost full by monitoring the top volumes by disk. I can be proactive rather than wait for the disk to fill up and users start to report issues.

It’s also a good idea to setup email alerts on things like this.

8. Monitor Services and Processes

So what if resources keep maxing out on a server or multiple servers. How do you know what is causing the CPU or memory usage to spike?

You could log in to each server and watch the running processes but that would be very inefficient plus it doesn’t give provide you with a report or historical data.

With a tool like SolarWinds SAM you can monitor the processes on each server and know exactly what causes high resource usage. SAM also has templates to monitor specific server applications such as:

9. Reporting and Inventory

I’ve mentioned reporting several times but it’s worth mentioning again. It’s important as an administrator to be able to provide detailed reports on system hardware and performance. You need to know what hardware you have, make, model, server hardware type, disk size and so on. If you’re going to monitor all servers and hardware it might as well have a built in inventory function.

Most tools will provide pre-built reports, while other tools give you the ability to create your own reports. I’ve found most of the built in reports to cover most of an administrators needs.

10. Server Uptime and Availability

The last feature on my list is the ability to report on server uptime. Monitoring and reporting on server uptime lets you know the availability of your server. Ideally you want 100% up time or 99.9% uptime.

The monitoring tool you choose should have this feature. In addition, you want the ability to report on availability for the last 24 hours, 7 days, 30 days and specific time frames. Uptime is a metric that management likes to see, it also helps in reporting issues such as users complaining they couldn’t load their apps at a certain time of the day.

Best Hardware Monitor App

Final Thoughts

If your looking for a server and hardware monitor tool then you can’t go wrong with any on this list. I personally use SolarWinds SAM to monitor server hardware and applications, I also use SolarWinds NPM to monitor my network. Their products are very easy to install and easy to use.

Don’t just take my word for it, I recommend you download multiple products to find what best fits your needs.

Recommended Tool: SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor

This utility was designed to Monitor Active Directory and other critical services like DNS & DHCP. It will quickly spot domain controller issues, prevent replication failures, track failed logon attempts and much more.

What I like best about SAM is it’s easy to use dashboard and alerting features. It also has the ability to monitor virtual machines and storage.