Preparation for Stress Testing: Monitoring
Stress testing is made to intentionally test the CPU at its maximum processing capacity. If we were stress testing your car, we'd be getting on the longest, straghtest road and going as fast as we could, pedal to the metal. Surely that would make the car run hot. Would it run too hot? In a car, we'd look at the temperature gauge. Your computer also has a thermometor in it, so lets look at how we can monitor the CPU so that we can tell if it is overheating.
Clean your computer
If we're going to test your CPU to the maximum, it is vital that your computer is clean. Open it up and look at the CPU heat sink and fan. Do they have any dust on them? Take your computer outside and give it a good airing out. You can use a can of air such as are available at most office supply stores. You can also use an air compressor. Use the air nozzle attachment at a distance of about 24" (.6m) to avoid damage from the high pressures that a shop compressor produces.
Now that it is cleaned out, lets move on.
SpeedFan (available at http://www.almico.com/sfdownload.php) is a utility that makes it easy to monitor both fan speeds and CPU temperatures alike. Download and install SpeedFan. Open the program and click on "Configure" and go to the "Options" tab. Now select "Fahrenheit" as the temperature format.
Go back to SpeedFan. Look at the temperatures, and maybe eve write down what they currently are for reference later. We are concerned with "Temp1" which is the main CPU temperature. Leave SpeedFan open. We're going to use it to watch our temperatures.
When stress testing your computer, it is best to make sure the temperature stays below 70° Celsius.
Go to http://www.mersenne.org/freesoft/ and download the proper version of Prime95 for your PC. Don't worry about signing up an account. For our purposes we can skip that part. Follow the rest of the directions on the Prime95 page. This program will put your computer through its paces like no other. Open the program and click "Just Stress Testing."