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Free Detailed PC Analysis

Although Windows Device Manager, Microsoft System Information, and Norton's System Information program can provide you with information about your computer system, they don't provide the same complete details that are provided by 3b Software's Sandra (System Analyzer Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant).

The free version of Sandra includes 50 modules that provide diagnostic, benchmarking, and performance tune-ups for different hardware devices and subsystems, including CPUs, modems, BIOS, drives, graphic cards, and DOS and Windows memory. It will tell you your system's video memory size, motherboard chipset, PCI slot usage, and SIMM or DIMM memory module identification. The latest version includes the additional modules CPU multimedia benchmarking, and network and memory bandwidth benchmarking.

Download Sandra from www.sisoftware.co.uk You will need a file unzip program like WinZip to extract the 2.36 MB zip file. Close all programs before executing the setup.exe program. When setup is complete, click on the Finish button to reboot your computer. Like most high quality software, Sandra comes with an uninstall utility. Sandra also comes with a browser based FAQ file, but the help file is Web based.

Sandra's Performance Tune Up Wizard advises you about what hardware upgrades would be best for your system. However, you don't have to run Performance Tune up Wizard because each module also provides you with performance tips. For example, the multimedia benchmarking module warned me that my on-board video's use of shared memory greatly reduces performance and that I should use a video card.

It's fun to open the various modules and probe your computer system. I found the most interesting module to be "Processes Information". You can start any program and find out how much memory it uses and what DLL's it uses. Sandra System analyzer, diagnostic and benchmarking modules are one tool every PC technician should definitely have in their toolkit.

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