What Is A GPU Stress Test? And How To Stress Test A GPU?

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stress test gpu

For any gamer or a creative professional with an intensive workload, it is safe to say that a GPU is an extremely important component.

Sure, there is a GPU shortage that has taken the world by storm, but that does not mean that we are going to just turn the other cheek and forget about the GPUs altogether.

Granted, there are people who are paying a premium for graphic cards; I did the same and have been using my RTX 3090 almost since launch.

If you have ever found yourself wondering about the GPU stress test and the process that goes into it, you are not the only one.

This is normally done to ensure that the GPU is running in the best way possible and is often also done with used GPUs to be sure that they are still running optimally and there are no anomalies that might ruin the gaming experience for users.


What Is A GPU Stress Test?


Although the term GPU stress test is more or less self-explanatory, there are a lot of instances where people find themselves in a rut of confusion as to what it actually means and the answer?

It is actually a lot simpler than you might think. Still, it is up to me to clear out any confusions that might be there, so let’s get started.

You see, when you are gaming or using your GPU for some other task, the programs that are being used will not put the GPU under 100% stress in other words, it will not use the GPU 100%.

It will only use as much as it needs and then leave the rest. For instance, if you are playing Counter-Strike on your PC, the GPU usage will be comparatively lower than if you start playing Red Dead Redemption 2.

Although this is great as it protects the GPU from running into issues and thermal issues all the time, it is also not effective if you are trying to figure out that the GPU is working fine.

GPU stress test involves putting 100% stress on the GPU through various means and ensuring that it runs fully stable under that load.


How To Test Your Graphics Card? – Tools Of The Trade


Now, when you are talking about testing the graphics card, the process of doing it might seem like a complicated one, but you would be surprised just how easy it is. I am going to list a few tools that you can use, with each tool being different. So, let’s explore.


#1- FurMark


FurMark is the first GPU stress tool that I have used, and honestly, I had very little idea about the tool, to begin with. I only found out when a friend of mine decided to run this test before he purchased the GPU from me.

As far as the functionality is concerned, this is perhaps one of the simplest tools that you can use and does not have a lot of settings or different scenes, either.

The furmark stress test tool

You are going to put an unrealistically high load on your GPU, and you can run it for as long as you want.

Ideally, what most gamers or hardware experts suggest is that you run FurMark for 20 to 30 minutes, monitor the temperature of your GPU, and be sure that there are no graphical artifacts on the screen or glitches.

If the GPU passes through that time, then you should stop the test and carry on with using your computer.


#2- Unigine Heaven


Another common tool that has been around for the longest time one can remember is Unigine Heaven, I know, the name does sound strange, but if you are searching for a tool that is going to push your graphics card to the limits and gauging the proper performance out of it, this is the test that you should be going for.

Heaven Benchmark Testing on rtx 3090

Unigine Heaven is more or less a benchmark that you normally find inside games and runs through various scenes with various activities happening in the scenes.

It is a lot easier to look at the changes that the GPU is going through and even look for visible artifacts or spots that should not be there.

For years, this benchmarking tool has proven to be useful and effective in terms of how it is used. Plus, it has one of the best accessibilities that you can look for, and well, it always works and does a great job at that, too.


#3- AIDA64 Extreme (Optional)


AIDA64 Extreme is another excellent tool for benchmarking your hardware. Yes, I did say hardware because it just does not take care of the GPU, but you can go ahead and use it to benchmark the rest of your components, as well.

I remember using the software mostly for benchmarking my CPU when I was overclocking to ensure that everything was running with full stability.

AIDA64 Extreme

The reason why this is optional is that, for beginners, this tool might be a bit difficult to understand as it is not just a simple tool where you launch it and get started.

This is also a full-fledged monitoring tool, so in case you are not looking to benchmark and just monitor, you can do so on this tool.

Additionally, you can even use the in-built monitoring while you are benchmarking your graphics card or your processor to make sure that everything is running fine.


#4- 3DMark


Another really popular benchmarking/stress testing application is 3DMark, which has been around for the longest time.

However, it also has one of the most active communities and amazing support from the developers, too. This tool easily has become the standard for benchmarking your GPU, but there is a lot more to it.

running wild life benchmark in 3d mark
@Xenthorx

You see, 3D Mark is not just a benchmarking tool, it actually is driven by the community and their use of this tool.

Users can go ahead and benchmark their GPUs and share their scores with other users to compete, and while it is not a professional level competition, it just gives us a look into how different the GPUs are and how one can push their graphics card to the limits by overclocking.

As compared to some of the other tools that I’ve listed, 3DMark is one of the more complicated tools but don’t worry, as it would stress test your GPU just fine and that too, without any complications.


#5- Superposition (Optional)


Okay, the reason why I am calling this an optional tool is because Superposition is actually a tool that is developed by the same company as Heaven benchmark.

However, this time around, they took the test and dialed it to 11. If you are wondering what makes it so much different than the other test I’ve talked about earlier, then it is rather simple to talk about.

UNIGINE Superposition Benchmark

For starters, the reason why Superposition has become such an important benchmarking tool is simple, it is one of the most comprehensive tools that you can use for benchmarking your computer, including all the components, and yes, this is a big deal.

Using Superposition is a lot easier, to be honest. You just have to start the benchmark, get the settings in order, and get started. It does run in stages, and once it is done, you are going to get the results on your display.


#6- GPU-Z


Next up, I am using my favorite tool, something that I have been using since I got my hands on the first GPU. I honestly do not even remember the name of my first GPU, but I do remember using GPU-Z.

As a matter of fact, it has been one of the most consistent tools on my PC, and well, it barely requires any resources, so you are good to go.

GPU Z Information tab

So, what is so good about this tool?

Well, for starters, this is not at all a tool for benchmarking. Yes, that is right. The GPU-Z can actually give you all the information that you could want about the GPU. This includes the clock speeds and other important things, including temperature as well.

The tool itself is very utilitarian and is meant to get the job done. You are not going to get flashy visuals or any other things, and this is not something that would allow you to do much more than monitoring, and therefore, you must keep this in mind.


#7- MSI Afterburner


We are finally on the last tool that I would always suggest, and this time, I’m talking about MSI Afterburner, a universal GPU monitoring tool that can be used with any GPU.

Main Dashboard of MSI Afterburner

This is the tool you want to use if you are looking to overclock or underclock your GPU, and while it might seem very complicated at first, the more you use it, the easier it becomes.

MSI Afterburner can run in tandem with other tools, too, and you can use it without any worries.


Monitor Your GPU during A Stress Test With MSI Afterburner


Okay, now that I have talked about some of the most common tools that you can use to stress test as well as monitor your GPU during it, it is time to get started with MSI Afterburner.

The reason why I am making a separate section for this tool is rather simple, I have been using it for as long as I can remember, and this happens to be a pretty comprehensive way of looking at the way your GPU is running.

So, let’s look at how you can monitor everything with MSI Afterburner.


GPU Temperature


Thankfully, when you do install MSI Afterburner and launch it, all the tools are going to be right there in front of you, and well, you really will not have any problems that might come in the way.

showing the max GPU temp limit in MSI Afterburner

However, I would highly suggest that you are keeping sure that your GPU is not going on a temperature that is higher than 85-degree, and even that is an upper limit.

Modern GPUs are a lot better in terms of thermals, but there are a number of factors that involve thermals.


GPU Usage


Next up, you have to ensure that the GPU usage is also being monitored. Normally, when you are running stress tests, the GPU usage is going to be 100%.

However, if you are benchmarking a game, the use might fluctuate, and it is important to remember that it is completely normal as the game would only utilize the percentage of the GPU it needs.


How To Stress Test Your GPU?


Since we are done talking about almost all the basics that one needs to know about GPUs and stress testing, the next logical step is to start focusing on a guide that will allow you to stress test your GPU. I know it might sound like a scary process, but hey, this works really well, and it will not confuse anyone.

For benchmarking purposes, I’m using FurMark as it is one of the easiest benchmarking tools that you can use, and well, it has been around for the longest time.

Before you start, I would highly recommend that you close any graphical intensive programs and only keep FurMark and a monitoring tool like MSI Afterburner running.

Main settings screen of FurMark

Last but not least, it is important to note that I am not responsible for any anomaly or damage to your graphics card during the stress testing period.

  • Launch FurMark.
  • Once the program is launched, customize the settings that you would want. These settings are simple to understand and straightforward.
  • When you are done making all the adjustments, simply go ahead and click on the GPU stress test, and it will begin the test.

The reason why FurMark is so common is that it uses a single scene and tests the GPU through the tests. The GPU has to individually render the strands of fur on the weird-looking donut, and while it might seem like a difficult thing, it actually becomes a lot to handle for the GPU.

Remember, this test should be run for around half an hour or less, and that is more than enough to not only stress-test your GPU but also test out how good the cooling is and how well everything is working. You should also remember that using this test will not void your warranty.

In many cases, using FurMark to determine the stability of your GPU is more than enough, but if you want, you can run some other tests as well, and those are going to help you, too.

The purpose of FurMark is to provide you enough peace of mind that everything is working and it is working fine and that too, without any issues.


Best Games For Testing Out The GPUs?


This is one thing that a lot of people don’t understand is that you can actually go ahead and stress test your GPU using videogames and their in-built benchmarking tools.

Sure, they are not going to put 100% load on your GPU, but they offer a better measure of your GPU will perform in real-world scenarios.


Grand Theft Auto V


Even though the game is pretty old for most modern GPUs that have been coming out recently, that does not change the fact that it makes up for one of the best benchmarking games that can be used for pretty much any GPU. If you are looking to get a really good understanding of the GPU you have just brought, this is it.

cover image of GTA 5

GTA V on PC has extensive graphical options that are enough to even overwhelm some of the most modern GPUs, and well, that is what we are looking for in a good game.

The benchmark tool runs on its own and gives you all the results right away and that too, without any complication.


Horizon Zero Dawn


Horizon Zero Dawn was released on PC and gave everyone an amazing time; this is one of the best games that one can experience on PC, and well, it does have some pretty intensive graphical aspects, as well. So, you are not really looking at the game that is going to go down easy.

cover image of Horizon Zero Dawn

The benchmarking tool on this game is just as easy, and if you are looking for a good experience and something that is easy to use, this is the way to.

There are enough options that will let you fine-tune everything, and you can play the game as you intend to do so.


Metro Exodus


If you are looking to break your GPU (not really) and push it to its limits, Metro Exodus is one of the games that will be more than happily do it for you, and while I do understand that this game might not be as recent as some of the other games, it still remains graphically intensive and more importantly, gorgeous.

cover image of Metro Exodus

To make things even better, the game also has an enhanced edition that is made exclusively for the RTX 3000 series of GPUs, so if you do have one of those, install this bad boy and get started.


Red Dead Redemption 2


When Red Dead Redemption 2 came out, it took the PC world by storm, not only being one of the most beautiful games on PC but also one of the games that completely changed how we view PC gaming and benchmark, to be honest.

cover image of Red Dead Redemption 2

I still remember the first time I played the game on my PC and realized that my GPU was not even capable of running the game properly.

I was using a GTX 1080 back then, but hey, that was clearly too much for it. If you are looking to go ahead and test the GPU the proper way, this is the way to go, and well, you will not be regretting it at all.


Shadow Of The Tomb Raider


Another game that I would suggest everyone to use for benchmarking is Shadow of the Tomb Raider.

cover image of Shadow of the Tomb Raider

I do understand the game is a bit old, but if you are looking for an amazing showcase of Raytracing and overall graphical fidelity, then I really don’t think that you can do better than this game, and the performance is excellent in every way.

Sure, you might want to look at other games, but hey, for benchmarking, this game is an absolute recommendation.


Control


The last game that I am recommending to everyone who is in the market and is about to go ahead with the benchmarking process is Control, another impressive showcase of Raytraced reflections.

cover image of Control

Needless to say, the game is absolutely stunning in terms of graphical prowess, and that is not all; the performance of this game demands good hardware, so if you are looking to test out your hardware, this is the way to do it.


Which Stress Test Tool Should You Use?


If you are wondering which stress test tool should you use, that honestly depends. For almost all the GPUs, you can use FurMark, but considering how modern-day GPUs have started to become more and more powerful, you might want to go ahead and use Superposition, as it serves as a more comprehensive tool and will give you all the results that you want.

Again, do remember that you will have to monitor the temperature and the usage of your GPU to be sure that there is nothing that is going wrong and everything is running as it should.


Is A GPU Stress Test Safe?


A lot of times, people ask us if stress tests are safe. To be honest, they are. The best thing about these tests is that you can just go ahead with the testing process, and you would be all good to go. It is not something that is going to harm your GPU.

However, it is only better if you don’t frequently put the load on your GPU because an unrealistic load that pushes the GPU to its limits can end up damaging it, and we have to avoid those situations.


The Final Verdict:

Now that we are done talking about almost everything you need to know about stress testing, you have to understand that if you want to run a GPU stress test, you must fully educate yourself about it first.

You cannot just go ahead and randomly run the test and expect things to go as planned. GPUs being complex components they are, it is easy for things to get out of the way, and well, it is better that you are using the proper tools and the right environment.

Once the testing is complete, you do not have to repeat the tests again and again. You can, however, do the test if you are selling the GPU and the buyer wants to see the temps and scores in general, but that is consequential at best.

Rest assured, the whole article covers everything about stress testing.


Frequently Asked Questions

#1 – How do I know if my GPU is failing?

As compared to some of the other hardware failings, GPU malfunctioning is a bit different. You can start by noticing abnormally high temperatures, crashes, freezes, and the most prominent sign is when you start getting artifacts on your screen during graphic-intensive tasks.

#2 – How hot is too hot for GPU?

Honestly, modern-day GPUs are really well-made in terms of the cooling capacity, but ideally, one would suggest that your GPU should not cross the 90-degree mark, or 80-degree if you are being conservative.

#3 – How long should I stress test my GPU?

Most of the common tests are timed, and they end after the cycle is complete. However, some tests like FurMark can run for an infinite time.

Ideally, for infinite tests, you should not run it for more than 30 minutes because, at that point, it becomes redundant.

#4 – How can I safely overclock my computer?

Overclocking your computer is not a difficult process at all. For processors, you only have to go to the motherboard UEFI/BIOS setup and get everything sorted. For GPU, you can use tools such as MSI Afterburner and other similar options.

#5 – Can I test a GPU without a PC?

Simply put, you cannot really go ahead and test a GPU without a PC as you would need the proper equipment to do so, including a power supply, video output, a motherboard, and a CPU. Therefore, you do need a complete and running PC.

#6 – Does overclocking reduce GPU lifespan?

Yes, it has been proven time and again that overclocking does reduce the lifespan of your GPU but how much it reduces is something that varies.

Plus, modern GPUs already come out of the factory overclocked, so you do not have to worry much.

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