Benchmarking your graphics card is the action of putting it through its paces and recording the results. You’ll be able to see how it stacks up to other cards, and get an idea on how it will perform on the latest games before you buy them.

Benchmarking your card is nice and easy, as there are several specifically designed programs to do it for you. You’ll just need to download them, fire them up and relax as your card runs a series of tests.

Check out our review of the 1080 here.

Why you should benchmark your graphics card

Knowing what you can expect from your card is always valuable. You can compare your benchmark to other owners of the same card, as no two cards are ever exactly the same.

If you’ve just bought a new card it’s always a good idea to use a benchmark test to make sure it can handle maximum load for an extended period of time. If you’re running a test and you’re seeing any problems, it’s more than likely a faulty card. It’s always better to know these things sooner rather than later.

How to benchmark your graphics card

Benchmarking your graphics card is relatively straightforward, as you’ll just have to download some software and fire it up, letting it run your card through a series of tests.

Some of the more advanced software such as 3D Benchmark or PassMark Performance Test comes with a price tag attached, but there are also some fantastic free alternatives that will do the job.

Heaven from Unigine is a great free alternative to fill your benchmarking needs.

Make your way to their downloads page, and download the program. Install it and fire it up, and you’ll be presented with a window containing various options for your tests.

If you’re finding the array of settings a bit overwhelming, then don’t worry – there are also some presets that you can choose. The most important thing is to ensure the tests are running at the resolution that you would normally use on your PC, so you get results that are relevant to your setup.

Haven Settings

After you’ve selected your settings or your preset, hit the ‘Run’ button to start your tests.

The results

The results screen will show you the average FPS of your test along with a score. There are several places on the web where you can compare your score with other people, but the main metric to look at is your FPS.

You want to be aiming anywhere above 30, with the ideal rate closer to 60. If you’re a serious hobbyist and using a monitor with 120 or 144 hertz, then you won’t want your FPS to drop below those numbers either – but that sort of performance is usually only obtained with very high end hardware.

If your card is struggling to maintain 30 FPS, then there are a couple of things you can do to increase performance. Turn down some of the settings, mostly shadows and textures as they tend to put the most strain on the card. However, if you're in this position then you'll probably want to think about upgrading in the near future.