When building, optimizing, or troubleshooting a computer, an adept hardware monitor is an extremely useful tool. HWMonitor allows you to keep track of all of your system’s important vital stats, and because it’s created by CPUID, creators of CPU-Z, HWMonitor has impeccable support for even the newest hardware. With its temperature monitors, it’s an ideal tool for any overclocker, and with its voltage monitors, energy-conscious underclockers will be happy, too. For those with HTPCs or other noise-critical systems, the fan-speed reports will help you identify the maximum fan speeds to keep your system as quiet as possible while still providing adequate cooling. HWMonitor even supports notebook hardware, giving battery-power levels, capacities, and even wear levels. CPUID also offers a Pro version for about $25 that provides additional functionality, like remote monitoring and history graphs. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the setup process, and explain HWMonitor’s features.
You can download the free version of HWMonitor here, or you can purchase the Pro version, or try it for 30 days, here. Both versions offer downloads for the setup executable, as well as 64-bit, 32-bit, and Win98 runtime editions. If you’re unsure whether you have a 64-bit or 32-bit system, you should download the setup.exe and run the installer. It will automatically check your system and install the appropriate version. Be careful, though, the installer will ask you to install the Ask.com toolbar, and although it appears to be required, you can actually continue the installation without any of the boxes checked (image A).
If you prefer to avoid the installation dialogue altogether, you can download either the 64-bit or 32-bit runtime directly in zip format. Simply extract the .exe file from the zip file and you’re ready to start monitoring your hardware.
Because this .exe file is self-contained, you can also drop it on a thumb drive to use as part of a diagnostic toolkit. If you plan to use HWMonitor regularly, be sure to extract the .exe somewhere you’ll be able to find it easily, because by bypassing the installation dialogue, you will not have a Start menu folder or desktop shortcut unless you create them manually.
Using the Free Version
Using the free version of HWMonitor is very straightforward. Because it doesn’t have the logging and graphing features of the Pro version, the free version is best used for keeping an eye on the current status of your various system stats; however, it still monitors your system when running in the background and will record the maximum and minimum values over a given time. This way, you can clear the Min/Max values under the View menu before running a benchmark or stress test, and return later to check the maximum values your components reached (image B).
Using the Pro Version
The Pro version of HWMonitor adds a bit of complexity and a lot of additional functionality. The most useful feature you’ll get out of the Pro version is the logging capability. The first thing you’ll want to do is go into the Tools drop-down menu and configure your Options. The logs are created in graph form as images, with an optional setting to create a CSV file as well. Most importantly, you’ll want to set a file path so that you can find the logs once they’re created. You’ll also notice options for remote monitoring, temperature scales, and even support for live feedback through a G15 keyboard.
Under the Network drop-down menu, there is a Listening Mode option. Selecting this will allow another computer running HWMonitor Pro on the local network to monitor your system stats remotely. With the Connect option, you can connect to another computer that has Listening Mode enabled. You can connect either directly with an IP Address, or through the Enum Network option, which will display a list of discoverable systems on your network. Remote monitoring is great when you need live feedback but don’t have the HWMonitor window visible on your desktop (image C).
If you’re thinking about using the 30-day free trial of HWMonitor Pro to set up and optimize a new system with all the extra features before those 30 days are up, you’ll be a bit disappointed. While the Pro version trial does give you access to all of the Pro version tools and functions, it also censors several sensor readings. In fact, the free version actually has more sensor readouts than the Pro trial, but cannot log the data or monitor remote systems.