Have you ever wondered what’s under the hood of a new computer you’ve just purchased, or had the desire to boot up a system and instantly know what’s at the heart of the build that you’re working with? Speccy, an application from Piriform Ltd, allows you to do just that by aggregating system information about all of your components, and displaying it in one convenient place.
Within this in depth review, we will be examining the usability, design, interface, and overall performance of Piriform’s Speccy. This article is the final segment of our series examining the free to use applications available from Piriform Ltd. Hit the jump to find out just how well you really know your PC.
Download and Installation
Speccy can be freely downloaded directly from Piriform’s website, or alternatively acquired from a secondary host such as FileHippo or Download.com. Piriform offers a portable version of Speccy for use with a flash drive, and provides advanced installation options for increased flexibility in this regard.
Speccy is not a large program, coming in between 4.2 and 4.5MB depending on the build which you download, and the installation is rather painless. Piriform tries to keep the wait to a minimum and get you right into using the program. Piriform offers priority technical support for both individual users and businesses if you wish to pursue it.
Speccy in the Field
In Speccy’s most recent incarnation, Piriform has added support for TCP connection information, improved hard drive data reporting, updated its video card database, improved the program’s search capabilities, and added a whole host of additional fixes and improvements.
When you first boot into Speccy, you will be presented with an overall summary of your system and its components, including Operating System, RAM, Motherboard, Graphics, Hard Drives, Optical Drives, and Audio information categories. In addition to the basic component information for each of these different categories, you will also be able to acquire information about connected peripherals and network hardware and activity.
Design and Interface
Speccy is both streamlined and direct in its presentation. The design is very simple and immediately easy to navigate for even the newest of users. If you have ever seen anyone lay out the specifications of a system they were either planning to build or upgrade, then you know what to expect here with Speccy. The bulk of this product’s value is in its ability to cram as much information as possible into a manageable and usable format, and in this it truly succeeds. What follows is a breakdown of each of the system sub-categories and what you might find within them.
The Operating System Tab will provide you a complete readout of the current specifications and settings of the operating system which you have installed on your computer. The elements to highlight within this section are your ability to view Windows Defender, Firewall and Update settings, as well as your Power Profile, Scheduled Tasks, and currently running Services. I should note that you currently do not have the ability to change any of these settings from within Speccy, or even open the setting menus directly from the program.
This section also provides a hierarchical device tree if you have interest in seeing how your components interact with your PC and each other.
The CPU Tab provides you with explicit information regarding your currently installed processor(s), caches(s), and core performance if applicable.
Speccy also allows you to monitor bus speed, fan speed, and average processor temperature, and by clicking on any of the green meters on the edge of each readout, you’ll open an expanded view similar to what is shown within the image below.
The RAM tab provides you with not only information about what memory you currently have installed in your system, but also how many expansion slots you are currently using and how many you have available. You can also monitor memory speed and usage, as well as view individual module specifications and ratings. Once again anywhere you see a green neon meter, you can select it and open an expanded graph view.
The most important information available from this menu is probably the overall system temperature, the individual and continuously updating voltage throughputs, and the make and model of the actual board which is critical when planning for upgrades.
The interesting and very useful feature of Speccy’s Graphics menu, is its ability to identify connected displays in addition to integrated or dedicated video cards. This is really beneficial in situations where you don’t have prior experience with a system, and you run into a display that isn’t clearly marked with the manufacturer name or model.
Speccy’s Hard Drives Tab is very useful for monitoring self reported S.M.A.R.T information and statistics. One of the more valuable features here is the ability to monitor the temperature of your hard drives to ensure that they are operating correctly and aren’t being negatively affected by poor case circulation.
Optical Drives, Audio & Peripheral Tabs
These three areas of the interface offer more information regarding hardware specifications pertaining to your optical drives, audio configuration, and the peripherals connected to your system, but in my testing didn’t offer the sheer amount of in depth information which the other categories provided.
This is likely due to the lack of manufacturer support in terms of self reporting hardware however, and not due to any lack of effort on behalf of Piriform. If I was using a dedicated audio card and a more recently produced optical drive in my system, there would most likely be more information available within these categories.
One fault I did note however, was that at the time of this writing I had a set of speakers connected to my system in a simple configuration, and Speccy failed to identify either the speakers or the configuration. Once again I believe this to have more to do with the quality and brand of the speakers, than with the quality of the application.
The Network tab within Speccy is extremely useful in that it not only provides information about your system’s hard lined local area connection, but also any wireless networks it is also connected to. It will provide you with detailed information about your network adapters, network shares, proxies, and remote desktop connections, and can now even display your active TCP Connections, or what applications are active on your network at any particular time.
This last component or functionality isn’t quite as detailed as other network monitoring software which I have utilized, but it was just introduced in the most recent update (version 1.13.276), and I am sure it will be further developed in the future. If you need a more in depth alternative for monitoring network activity I suggest the Windows Sysinternals utility TCPView.
Speccy has, in more than one instance, facilitated my ability to upgrade computers with no prior information regarding their construction or internal composition. It has also allowed me to identify components which are not clearly marked, including monitors and other peripherals. Piriform explicitly markets Speccy specifically for this purpose, and has done an exemplary job of developing the program to assist individuals with this goal.
Incredibly, Speccy can analyze your computer and provide all this information within a matter of seconds. Once it has completed its initial analysis, Speccy will respond immediately to any user inputs or actions, and actually update system information on the fly while you do so.
Speccy is a continually evolving product, and as manufacturers continue to improve and release hardware with the ability to self report status, Speccy will continue to get better.
Speccy is free to download and utilize for personal use, and Piriform offers priority home and small business support on a yearly basis for $19.95 and $34.95 respectively. If you wish to use Speccy in a business environment with more than ten computers, the developer suggests using CCleaner Network Edition, which is scalable and provides the integrated functionality of multiple Piriform products.
Competition & Conclusion
There are a wide range of products which allow you to monitor different aspects of your system health, specifications, and information, but very few which provide the in depth hardware analysis that Speccy can provide users. The amount of information provided by the basic system tools within Windows, simply pales in comparison to the huge amount of information attainable by using Speccy.
The program may seem simple at first glance, but once you begin to drill down through dozens of component sub categories, you will quickly realize that the simple overlay of the application’s initial Summary screen belays a much deeper program which can provide extremely useful information about system performance, bottlenecks, composition, and just about any other aspect of your personal computer which can be translated into a data readout.
Speccy will give you detailed statistics on every piece of hardware in your computer. Including CPU, Motherboard, RAM, Graphics Cards, Hard Disks, Optical Drives, Audio support. Additionally Speccy adds the temperatures of your different components, so you can easily see if there's a problem!9