CNET Editors' review
You remember the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde? Well, that's sort of the story of Prime95, too. This mild-mannered mathematics software lets users participate in GIMPS, the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search. This online project uses the distributed power of many networked PCs (like yours) to search for immense Mersenne prime numbers. Prime95 lets users donate processing power to the nonprofit research project. In the hot hands of overclockers, though, Prime95 becomes an instrument of torture, running stress tests that pinpoint weak links in your system. How you use Prime95 determines its behavior.
Prime95's setup wizard offers two distinct choices: Join GIMPS, or Just Stress Testing. We started with Just Stress Testing. A pop-up wizard labeled Run a Torture Test appeared. Tools like Prime95 stress your PC by running calculations at maximum power. The test gives several options, including tests that include very little or lots of RAM, or a blend of the two, and the results give a clear picture of your PC's performance, including processor speed and other data critical to overclocking.
We could specify the number of test threads to run as well as configure a Custom test. In the Advanced menu you can specify tests by exponent, time, and other factors; the Options menu accesses not only the Torture Test features but also a Benchmarking tool, CPU options such as when and how long the tests will run, and Preferences, including the option to play a sound if it finds a new Mersenne prime (the project has uncovered 13 since 1996). Like the GIMPS tool, some of the advanced features require a free PrimeNet account.
We ran a variety of benchmarking and stress tests on our system. Tests can be very brief or run continuously for true torture testing. Prime95 displays results in a split log view that can be customized in a variety of ways as well as copied, saved, and edited. Those interested in GIMPS should visit the project's site for more information. Whether you're the friendly, collaborative researcher or the (let's be frank) mad-scientist type, this top-quality software instrument has something to offer.
Prime numbers have long fascinated amateur and professional mathematicians. An integer greater than one is called a prime number if its only divisors are one and itself. The first prime numbers are 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, etc. For example, the number 10 is not prime because it is divisible by 2 and 5. A Mersenne prime is a prime of the form 2P-1. The first Mersenne primes are 3, 7, 31, 127 (corresponding to P = 2, 3, 5, 7). There are only 44 known Mersenne primes.
GIMPS, the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search, was formed in January 1996 to discover new world-record-size Mersenne primes. GIMPS harnesses the power of thousands of small computers like yours to search for these "needles in a haystack".
What's new in this version:
- This latest version of prime95 has been optimized for Intel's new AVX instruction set. Owners of Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge CPUs (Core i3/i5/i7 2xxx and 3xxx) will see a substantial performance boost..
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All versions:4.3 stars
out of 3 votes
Current version:4.0 stars
out of 1 votes
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"Very useful for finding problems with hardware"
Version: Prime95 32-bit 27
Will run off a CD, flash drive, or HDD. Has 3 different tests that can really stress the MB, CPU & RAM. Allows you to copy the results of the tests to a text file.
No easy way to tell what piece of hardware really failed. Takes extra steps to save test data - would be nice to be able to save test as text within the app instead of having to open a text app and save it there.
Since it tests the MB, CPU & RAM, I didn't see an easy way to tell exactly which was the issue in my case. I swapped out memory and the CPU and it still failed so I deduced it must be the MB. It usually failed the Blend test when run overnight.
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