Speccy: An Easy Way to Check Your PC's Performance

by JoHarrington

Don't you hate it when you ask a geek for help and their first question is about your computer's spec? This free program is the answer.

The thing about geeks is that we're the first people to be called upon to fix computers. That means that we know exactly what information we need.

I've lost count of the amount of times I've asked for a spec. The usual result is someone on the end of the telephone groaning at me. It can take a while to talk them through finding it.

At least it used to. But other geeks out there created this fast, simple and above all free program to find all of that information. It just takes one click. Yay!

Why Computer Users Need Speccy

It allows you to monitor, at a glance, how every piece of software is functioning inside your PC.

The young woman is a self-confessed computer illiterate.  She takes the view that she doesn't have to be personally clued in.  She knows me.

She had been halfway through her homework, when her computer first crashed. It had unfortunately taken part of her essay with it. 

She had responded in precisely the correct way, using the method employed by everyone from nerd geniuses through to utter noobs.

She swore at the monitor, waited for it to switch back on and hoped that the problem had gone away.

This is the fail-safe 'have you tried turning it off and on again' strategy. Not only does that often work, but it would also allow her to say 'yes', when it would be the first question that I'd ask of her.

It didn't go away.  Over the next few days, she faced the Blue Screen of Death several times. She eventually surrendered to the inevitable and came into Skype looking for me. 

She couldn't have chosen a better time. I wasn't alone. Also in the call with me was a man who'd spent his teenage years building computers, and most of his spare time writing programs to run on them.  Completing our trinity was a woman who works on the Apple Mac service desk. The geek conversation was already in deep cyberspace, when my friend nervously joined us.

Once we'd established that she had indeed turned it off and on again, there was a barrage of questions about spec. Followed by silence.  Then a groan. This was a woman who'd previously struggled to find a fuse in a plug, now she was being asked about graphic cards, CPU and the core temperature of her PSU.

I waited for her cringing and apologetic protests to abate, then reminded her that last time something had gone wrong, I'd made her download Speccy.  Was it still on her computer?

There was a short gasp and the lack of verbal response this time felt more hopeful. 

Half a minute later, she proudly pasted into the text chat her entire software specification. It was followed by an instant chorus in three voices. We had spotted the problem immediately and we knew just how to fix it.

A Screenshot from Speccy

This provides all of the information that your average computer nerd would need to know in the first instance.
Image: Screenshot from the front page of Speccy.
Image: Screenshot from the front page of Speccy.

What is Speccy?

It's a one-click way to see all of your computer's software listed, alongside any alerts.

Speccy finds your computer spec for you. In other words, it hunts down and lists all of the specifications and components which make your computer work.

The front page (as captured in the image above) provides an overview. 

This is what my friend copied for us geeks to pore over after clues to the origin of her repeated shut-downs. She had to do nothing more than open Speccy to get that.

For more detailed views into each component, the menu on the left-hand side provides the links.

I love Speccy for two reasons.  The first is that it can be used so easily that it means computer illiterate friends can get that information to us. The second is the temperature sensor.  This might be a small, nifty program, but that is an extremely accurate gauge!

Finding Your PC Specs with Speccy

LordReserei01's YouTube guide is a few years old, but the basics haven't changed a great deal in that time. It provides a good glimpse at the program.

Another Great Piriform Program

This is from the same company who made CCleaner and Defraggler.

The program has been developed by Piriform.  I know it appears that everything that I recommend is from them, but they really do make great software.

I don't set out to merely download everything that the company makes.  I'll discover things for myself, or follow a word of mouth recommendation, only to learn that it's Piriform once again. You stop being so pleasantly surprised after a while.

I found Speccy after posting on a Tech Forum.  I'd included a screenshot of my own computer's temperature in order to illustrate my point. 

One of the replies came from an extremely technology savvy man (one of the moderators in fact).  He disdained the program that I'd previously used to determine it.  He informed me that Speccy contains a far more accurate temperature sensor.

I downloaded it and, after the obligatory 'oh it's Piriform again' moment, had a flick through and liked what I found. 

Shortly afterwards, I was in my local computer repair shop (totally different issue - I was buying a gamer headset).  One of the technicians there was working on a PC and I happened to glance across.  He was running Speccy, as his first port of call to determine the problem!

Buy Haynes Computer Manual

Discover More About Your PC's Inner Workings

So far I've been writing about Speccy as if it's the perfect program for those who know nothing about computers. You merely pass the information on to the rest of us.

In fact, just about every geek I know (except those on Mac) has it installed on their PCs.  Most of us also have the portable version on a memory stick. It saves time when we're called out to help family and friends with their ailing computers.

If you do want to learn more about what Speccy's data all means, then I'd recommend Haynes Computer Manual. 

I own it. It's sitting about two feet away from me, slotted between a box of cables and a couple of defunct keyboards.

Author Kyle MacRae has a very easily digested style of writing.  He borders upon the utterly irreverent at times, making it not only an informative, but utterly hilarious book to browse. 

I've just opened the manual to find an example and there's one in the first line.  He's provided a timeline of computing and computers starting with:  '500BC Ernie the Egyptian invents the abacus. Blame him.'

Haynes Computer Manual is also fully illustrated and doesn't assume any prior knowledge. You could build a PC from scratch following his instructions, so you would certainly be able to use it to understand what Speccy is telling you!

More Computer Manuals

Buy any of these books to become much more knowledgeable about how your PC actually works.

Downloading Speccy

Speccy is free to download and use, though there are two Pro versions for more advanced users.

The first of these targets home users, but the main benefit is solely in prioritized technical support. I've never needed that service in years of using the program. It's never broken down! The second is a business edition, which is only necessary for those administrating a network.

The free edition is fine for most people wishing to learn the spec of their personal computer at home.

The directions for installing Speccy are all included in the download link. Follow the guidelines, which are illustrated with screenshots.

I do not work for the company, neither do I get any commission from recommending it. I'm merely a very happy customer.

Speccy Links

The official page for this software from the makers Piriform. It has further information and download links.

Download Speccy for Windows
A selection of download links for the free and paid versions of the program. There's currently no Mac version.

CNET Review of Speccy
This geek software site concluded, 'Speccy's about as easy to use as any program out there; it just shows you what's going on with your PC.'

Switched/Huffpost Tech Review of Speccy
These download testers reported, 'While it's not as detailed as some other system information tools, Speccy still provides a good deal of essential information and gathers it quickly.'

Speccy Saved my Computer!

In writing this article, I opened up the program and discovered that my CPU was running at 148 degrees Fahrenheit. Not good! This is what happened next.
The grills on your PC let out the heat, but they also attract dust and dirt. Too much of that and everything will grind to a halt.

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Updated: 03/06/2015, JoHarrington
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JoHarrington on 05/30/2012

Then I'll do my best to deliver!

I tend to think of things to recommend only when they come up in real life situations. As I'm asking a friend or family member to use these programs, I make a mental note to tell the people of Wizzley too. :)

katiem2 on 05/30/2012

What wonderful info, glad to know we have a in house computer geek onboard... I have a few wizards of the weird computer science world on board me own ship... great page about speccy. Oh imagine all the helpful programs the average noob could put to good use and save themselves a few hairs. I look forward to reading more from you on such helpful topics.

JoHarrington on 05/25/2012

Sometimes you really scare me, Lucas. >:(


Lucas on 05/25/2012

100C is for boiling water haha, smoke's gonna be quite a bit higher hopefully.. In the meantime, I'll just continue heating up drinks beside the vents haha, awesome way to get warm coffee while gaming XD

JoHarrington on 05/24/2012

Is 100C when there's actually smoke coming out of it? It seems very high to me still. If that was Fahrenheit, I'd be happier.

Oh! Sorry, I'll have to think of another article about dusting a notebook instead, though it's bound to be the same principles. The same stuff is in there, just smaller or compacted more together.

Lucas on 05/24/2012

After the initial panicking, I went googling and it turned out that as long as it don't pass 100C it's safe.. As for dusting, more googling needed (your article's on desktops, mine's a notebook, so everything's probably crammed together) Pretty sure mine will look dustier than your comp #2 :P

JoHarrington on 05/24/2012

The graphics cards are designed for gaming (well, they are if you got one for gaming!), so they can run a bit hotter than the rest. However, once you go over a maximum of, say, 80 degrees Celsius, then you are looking at a problem.

That's just on the graphics. The rest of your CPU shouldn't be getting any higher than 50.

Time to give it a bit of a dust, see if that brings the core temperature down? http://wizzley.com/pc-dust/

Lucas on 05/24/2012

57C for CPU, 55C for motherboard, 52C for graphics, and it's pretty much sitting there idle.. If I start gaming it'd go all the way to 80-90C.. *gulps*

JoHarrington on 05/24/2012

Yes, that's one of the computers in this house. That was freshly booted with little going on in the background. It's a desktop.

What temperature is yours running at? Mine's currently 105 according to Speccy.

Lucas on 05/24/2012

The screenshot of Speccy you included, that's yours? In which state of running is your computer on? Just freshly booted or mid-games and full of processes running in the background? Also, notebook or desktop?
(My temperature's a little crazy so I'm checking around lol)

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