How to stress test a GPU – a step-by-step guide

Essential steps for stress testing your GPU

How to stress test a GPU - a step-by-step guide

You can trust PC GuideOur team of experts use a combination of independent consumer research, in-depth testing where appropriate – which will be flagged as such, and market analysis when recommending products, software and services. Find out how we test here.

Last Updated on

Checking the stability of your graphics card under load is an essential test for any keen overclocker, so in this article, we’ll give you a quick crash course on how to stress test a GPU. While you might have run a GPU benchmark on your PC to gauge what your card can do, a stress test is a simple and safe GPU test to source or troubleshoot any failures that might occur when your card is performing at its absolute max.

Most modern and best GPUs are designed to protect themselves by throttling down when you near their critical power limits, but it can be good to know when you need to reign it in to keep everything on your device safe and free of damage. As a heads-up, one of the most known methods is using Furmark, and we’ve used this software in this how-to guide. However, if you’d prefer to try a different method, you can read here about the 6 Best GPU stress test tools: Explained and considered.

✓ Quick Answer

Download and install Furmark

For the simple answer, we recommend using Furmark 2. Once downloaded and installed, you want to up the resolution to your screens and run the stress test. Giving it a good 30 minutes will give you a good idea if your GPU is in a good state.

Step-by-step on how to stress test a GPU

1

Using FurMark

When it comes to understanding how to stress test a GPU, one of the most reliable and widely used tools is FurMark. Known for its intense workload simulation, FurMark is an excellent choice for pushing your graphics card to its limits, particularly if you’re working with an overclocked GPU.

FurMark’s ability to create demanding graphics scenarios makes it an ideal tool for gauging the stability and performance of your GPU under extreme conditions. This tool is especially useful for enthusiasts who have overclocked their GPUs and need to ensure that their modifications are stable and sustainable eventually.

 

Step

1

Download FurMark

Visit the official FurMark website and download the latest version of the software. With the 2nd edition now out, we recommend using that with its improvements to the software.

Furmark download page
Furmark download page

 

Step

2

Install FurMark

Run the downloaded installer from either the setup or unzipped files.

Follow the on-screen instructions to install FurMark on your computer.

Installation setup window for Furmark
Installation setup window for Furmark

Step

3

Launch FurMark

After installation, locate FurMark in your program list and open it.

Program window for Furmark 2
Program window for Furmark 2

Step

4

Configure test settings

In the FurMark interface, configure your test settings.

This includes selecting the desired resolution, fullscreen or windowed mode, and the duration of the stress test.

Configuring the test settings in Furmark 2
Configuring the test settings in Furmark 2

Step

5

Start the stress test

Click the ‘Run’ button to start the stress test. FurMark will render a graphically intensive scene to push your GPU to its limits at the assigned settings.

Run stress test in Furmark 2
Run stress test in Furmark 2

Step

6

Monitor GPU performance

Keep an eye on the GPU temperature, clock speeds, and performance metrics displayed by FurMark. Ensure your GPU’s temperature stays within a safe range.

Monitor GPU performance in Furmark
Monitor GPU performance in Furmark

Step

7

Complete the test

Allow the test to run for the set duration. We usually suggest about 30 minutes for a good run amount. Then if no issues arise, you can complete the test by pressing “Esc” and exiting the software.

Complete the Furmark test
Complete the Furmark test

You can find the time elapsed towards the top of the left sidebar.

2

Unigine Superposition

When exploring how to stress test a GPU, Unigine Superposition emerges as a standout utility, offering a unique blend of realism and technical challenge. This advanced tool is designed to push video cards to their absolute limits, providing a clear picture of how they perform under extreme stress.

Unigine Superposition utilizes state-of-the-art graphics to simulate highly detailed environments, making it a popular choice for testing the capabilities of both gaming and professional-grade video cards. Its ability to create intensive 3D scenes allows users to accurately assess the stability and power of their GPUs, which is especially crucial for those engaged in overclocking or high-performance computing.

This utility stands out for its user-friendly interface and customizable settings, allowing both novices and experts to tailor their testing experience. Whether you’re evaluating a new GPU, checking the stability of an overclocked setup, or simply want to see what your current setup can handle, Unigine Superposition offers a versatile and robust testing environment.

In this section, we’ll guide you through the process of using Unigine Superposition for GPU stress testing.

Step

1

Download Unigine Superposition

Head over to the Unigine Superposition downloads page and download the program.

Unigine Superposition download page
Unigine Superposition download page

Step

2

Install Superposition

After downloading, run the installer and follow the instructions to install Unigine Superposition on your system.

Installing Unigine Superposition
Installing Unigine Superposition

Step

3

Launch Superposition

Find Superposition in your program list and launch it or launch it at the end of the install.

Run Unigine Superposition
Run Unigine Superposition

Step

4

Configure benchmark settings

In the Superposition interface, set up your benchmark.

Choose a custom preset, ranging from 720p to 8K resolution.

Decide between DirectX and OpenGL.

Tweak other settings as needed for your benchmarking goals.

Configuring settings in Superposition
Configuring settings in Superposition

Step

5

Start benchmark

Click the ‘Run’ button to start the benchmarking process.

Superposition will render 17 scenes in a small, interactive environment to assess GPU performance.

Run Superposition
Run Superposition

Step

6

Monitor performance

Watch the GPU’s performance as the benchmark runs.

Take note of temperature, frame rates, and any visual anomalies.

Monitor performance Superposition
Monitor performance Superposition

Step

7

Analyze results

After the benchmark is completed, Superposition will display performance results. Analyze these for insights into your GPU’s capabilities and stability.

Unigine Superposition results
Unigine Superposition results

You can also compare these online to see what others with your GPU have got.

Is it safe to stress test a GPU?

Stress testing a GPU is generally safe, provided that certain precautions are taken. These tests are conducted to push your graphics card to its maximum limits, allowing you to assess the GPU’s stability and overall performance under extreme conditions.

Key considerations for safe GPU stress testing:

  • Adequate Cooling: Before initiating a stress test, ensure your graphics card has proper cooling. High GPU usage during stress tests generates a lot of heat, and adequate cooling is crucial to prevent overheating. Check that the GPU fans and any additional cooling systems, like liquid cooling, are functioning correctly.
  • Using Reliable Software: It’s important to use reputable and reliable software for stress testing. Tools like FurMark, 3DMark, or Unigine Heaven are designed rigorously to test the GPU while ensuring the hardware isn’t pushed beyond safe operational limits.
  • Monitoring During Tests: Keep an eye on GPU temperatures and performance metrics during the test. If temperatures rise too high or if you notice any graphical glitches, it’s advisable to stop the test to prevent damage.
  • Balancing Test Duration: While stress tests are useful for evaluating the GPU’s stability, they should not be run for excessively long periods. Continuous long-term testing can put undue strain on the graphics card, potentially shortening its lifespan.
  • CPU and Hardware Considerations: Remember that stress testing a GPU can also affect other system components, especially the CPU and power supply. Ensure your system can handle the increased power draw and has adequate cooling for all components.

In summary, stress testing your GPU can be a safe and effective way to evaluate your graphics card’s performance limits and stability, as long as it’s done with proper cooling, using reliable testing software, and for a reasonable duration. Always monitor your system’s response to the test and be prepared to stop the test if you observe any signs of distress or overheating.

How do I set a GPU temperature alarm during a stress test?

You can set a GPU temperature alarm using hardware monitoring software like HWInfo or MSI Afterburner. These tools allow you to set temperature thresholds that trigger an alert if exceeded during the test.

Can stress testing help me understand my GPU’s power consumption?

Yes, stress testing can give you an insight into your GPU’s power consumption under load. Monitoring this can help you ensure that your power supply unit (PSU) is adequate for your GPU’s needs. Using a program like HWInfo you can see what the power consumption during heavy loads ends up being and evaluate if your PSU is good enough.

Final word

There are plenty of ways to stress test your graphics card, this is just some of the ways we personally recommend doing it. But it is a key way of making sure everything is A-OK with your precious component. It’s especially key to putting your overclock through the paces and seeing if it is a sustainable option.

If you do need help with some more GPU troubles, you can find out how to overclock your GPU in our easy guide. Along with other stress test tools and how to test your GPU as a good continuation of getting more out of your system.

Maria is a full-stack digital marketing strategist interested in productivity and AI tools.