CPU-Z is the work of Franck Delattre at CPUID.com, the same outfit that also offers the excellent freeware programs called PC Wizard and HWMonitor, (I’ve also reviewed HWMonitor on this site; see my article on TJMax). I’ve been using CPU-Z for years, thanks to its widespread use at Tom’s Hardware for reporting on PC hardware and related configuration settings.
Obtaining and Installing CPU-Z
CPU-Z arrives in a simple ZIP file named CPU-Z.zip. You can download it from http://www.cpuid.com/, then unzip the file into a directory: I keep mine in C:\CPU-Z, and have even pinned the .exe file to the Start menu for easy access because I use it all the time. CPU-Z is an unsigned Windows app, so Vista and XP will squawk about that each time you run this program, but it really is both innocuous and provides useful information, so please let it go ahead.
CPU-Z CPU tab
By default, the CPU-Z CPU tab appears when you launch this program, as shown in this screenshot:
The CPU tab identifies make and model of your CPU, and provides information about clock settings and available cache sizes.
I use this tab in CPU-Z most when I’m checking a system out for the first time, or when I’m tweaking a motherboard’s CMOS, usually to overclock the machine. This tab’s reporitng on core speed, multiplier, bus speed, and rated FSB values are all important in checking if CMOS settings agree with actual system configuration (surprising over-rides or resets can occur so that it’s important to make sure what you think you’ve set up is actually what gets set up).
CPU-Z Mainboard tab
Mainboard is a synonym for motherboard, and that’s what this tab reports on. It will tell you who made the motherboard, what model it is, and what kinds of chipsets are present (and is smart enough to tailor its displays for the kind of architecture it discovers). You can also get information about the BIOS installed on your machine. It also tells you what kind of graphics card interface it discovers and how many lanes it occupies for a PCI Express adapter (16 on my machine as shown in the next screencap).
The Mainboard tab identifies make and model of your motherboard, lists the various chipsets it encounters, and provides information about BIOS and graphics card architecture.
I use this tab most often to confirm my knowledge or beliefs about the hardware installed inside a PC. Once you’ve seen this information once, you seldom need to return to this tab after that, except perhaps after flashing your BIOS to confirm that change.
CPU-Z Memory and SPD tabs
These two tabs report on two different types of memory (RAM) settings. Memory tells you what is actually set for your PC at the moment, including the ratio of FSB to memory speed, and the various memory speed settings currently in use on your machine. SPD tells you what kinds of timings are stored in the memory modules themselves, so that you can compare actual settings to stored settings (and usually, both will agree because most motherboards read and use SPD settings by default). SPD also tells you about your memory modules (size, max speed, manufacturer, and so forth).
<img src=”cpu-z-memory.jpg” mce_src=”cpu-z-memory.jpg” alt=”CPU-Z Memory tab”>
<img src=”cpu-z-spd.jpg” mce_src=”cpu-z-spd.jpg” alt=”CPU-Z SPD tab”>
<!– set screencaps side-by-side, please –>
The memory tab shows actual memory setting and timings (left/above), while the SPD tab shows similar info stored in each memory module on your PC (right.below).
CPU-Z is a small, handy, and free tool for hardware investigation and documentation. It’s definitely worth getting to know, and will undoubtedly come in handy from time to time. It’s part of my standard PC utility collection, and probably should be part of yours, too.