Wednesday, November 4, 2020

How to use the Windows 10 Assessment Tool to measure system performance

The Windows 10 Assessment Tool tests the components of your computer (CPU, GPU, RAM, etc.) and then measures their performance. The tool can only be run from a Windows 10 command prompt or PowerShell instance, and either of those must be opened with administrative rights.

This how-to tutorial shows you how to access and use the Windows 10 Assessment Tool to measure your computer's performance.

For this example, we will use PowerShell, but the process is similar for the command prompt. Right-click the Start Menu button on the Windows 10 desktop and select Windows PowerShell (Admin). At the prompt (Figure A), type this command:

winsat formal

Figure A


This system will run through an extensive series of tests, which could take a few minutes, and then display some measurements, as shown in Figure B.

Figure B


The formal parameter runs a full test of all your computer's components and saves the results in an XML file located in this folder:


If you have an XML file editor, you can view the file and see your computer's performance, however, there is a viable alternative. Again, at the PowerShell (Admin) prompt (Figure C), type one of these commands:

get-wmiobject -class win32_winsat


Get-CimInstance Win32_WinSat

Figure C


The first command gives you a few more details about the testing, while the second command condenses the measurements down to the bare minimum of information. In our example, the overall performance of my old Alienware M14x gaming laptop, repurposed for business use, is limited by the slow hard drive read/write speeds rated at 5.9.

The maximum score for any component test is 9.9.

SEE: Office 365: A guide for tech and business leaders (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Users may opt to run specific tests on specific components by modifying the winsat command with parameters. Here is a list of the standard command parameters, which will display measurements using default configurations:

  • winsat -?--displays the help.
  • winsat formal--runs the full assessment.
  • winsat dwmformal--runs only the Desktop Windows Manager assessment which generates the graphics score.
  • winsat cpuformal--runs only the CPU assessment to generate the processor score.
  • winsat memformal--runs only the memory assessment to generate the memory (RAM) score.
  • winsat graphicsformal--runs the graphics assessment to generate the gaming graphics score.
  • winsat diskformal--runs the disk assessment to generate the primary hard disk score.
  • winsat cpu--tests the processor.
  • winsat mem--tests the memory.
  • winsat disk--tests connected storage devices.
  • winsat d3d--assesses the Direct 3D application abilities.
  • winsat media--tests media capabilities.
  • winsat mfmedia--Windows Media Foundation assessment.
  • winsat features--runs the features assessment.
  • winsat dwm--runs the Desktop Windows Manager assessment.
  • winsat prepop--pre-populate WinSAT assessment results.

Diving deeper into the Windows 10 Assessment Tool

Because the Windows 10 Assessment Tool produces XML files containing performance scores and measurements, APIs and scripting tools like PowerShell can be used to display and process data points. Developers can use such tools to customize testing parameters and search for ways to improve performance.

Users should keep in mind that the Windows 10 Assessment Tool is not the only way to measure your computer's performance. Other benchmarking measures will provide more detail, particularly when measuring graphical capabilities. For example, the test laptop scored well on basic graphics, but the GPU is far too old to take advantage of many DirectX 12 features or NVIDIA's recent ray-tracing technology.

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