PCMark: how it actually works

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  • How to download PCMark 10

PCMark was first released in 2002, making it one of the oldest benchmarking applications that still receives regular updates. It is very popular among regular users because its main benchmarks are free, offer an easy-to-understand score, and test areas that are really meaningful to users. Although PCMark is often seen as a simple benchmark that isn’t for the truly ardent enthusiast, the casual-looking shell is one of the more sophisticated benchmarking applications out there.

What is PCMark?

PCMark, currently in its tenth version, is an application developed by UL Solutions that allows users to run a variety of tests. PCMark 10 attempts to provide a complete perspective of your computer’s performance in the most common and most common workloads. Since PCMark’s tests are somewhat informal in nature and score the entire computer rather than individual components (except for storage benchmarks), running the benchmark with one of the fastest CPUs or most powerful GPUs won’t necessarily have a particularly large impact on output. a result.

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Enthusiasts don’t usually use PCMark. Benchmarks like Geekbench and CrystalDiskMark are more popular because they push individual components to their limits and reveal their absolute top speeds. This is not to say that Geekbench, CrystalDiskMark, and other tests are superior. Many of these benchmarks test for synthetic and possibly unrealistic workloads while PCMark attempts to simulate real-world usage, which obviously skews heavily on casual applications. Each approach has pros and cons.

PCMark 10 presents four main categories of benchmarks: performance, battery life, applications, and storage. Here is a quick breakdown of each.


Benchmarks here run a series of tests and provide a score to assess the overall performance of a computer. There are three different performance benchmarks to choose from: PCMark 10 Benchmark, Express Benchmark, and Extended Benchmark. The difference between these benchmarks comes down to the types of software being tested in each, and PCMark 10 tests four different types: Essentials, Productivity, Digital Content Creation, and Games.


express standard

extended standard









Digital content creation




the games




Except for games, each category includes multiple individual apps. PCMark assigns a score to each and uses these scores to generate an overall score. The Essentials category tests application startup, web browsing, and video conferencing (such as Zoom); Performance of productivity benchmarks in LibreOffice Writer and Calc (primarily Microsoft Word and Excel); Digital content creation includes photo and video editing, as well as rendering in programs such as Blender; And play games only for the Firestrike benchmark from 3DMark, which is also developed by UL Solutions.

Then there are the three standards that test for different combinations of those four basic categories. The benchmark tests basically everything but games, which is what you’d run a non-gaming PC. The rapid benchmark cuts through digital content creation and is largely geared towards casual users who want to spend as little time as possible benchmarking. The expanded benchmark is more for enthusiasts who want an absolutely complete picture of performance that includes gaming.

battery life

There are five criteria under the battery life category: modern office, apps, video, games, and idle. These first two test a variety of programs, but the other two test one piece of software each (or if idle, nothing specific at all). It’s up to you to decide which benchmarks you want to run, and I’d recommend at least running either the modern office or apps benchmark in addition to the idle benchmark, which just tells you how much battery life your device has when it’s sitting, you know, idle.

One of the most important features of PCMark’s battery life benchmarks is that it runs until a device’s battery reaches zero, which means the final benchmark score isn’t just an estimate. The downside to doing it this way is that the initial charge of the laptop can affect the results, and PCMark won’t let you run any battery life benchmark if the device’s battery life is less than 80%. These tests must be performed with a full battery for accurate results.


The Applications benchmark is the simplest benchmark in PCMark 10. It’s a test suite of four Microsoft applications: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Edge. You must have Microsoft Office installed and registered before running the Application Benchmark Test. There are no other benchmarks under the Apps category, making it the simplest of the four.

There is actually quite a bit of overlap with performance benchmarks, which include writing, spreadsheet, and web browser tests. However, the primary difference is that the performance benchmarks use non-Microsoft software, such as LibreOffice Calc instead of Excel and Firefox instead of Edge. This category basically doesn’t exist unless you specifically want a degree of Microsoft applications.


Finally, there is the Storage category, which offers four different benchmarks with unique characteristics: Full System, Fast System, Data, and Performance Consistency. The complete system benchmark scores overall performance on shared workloads; A quick system benchmark is a short test run with lighter benchmarks and is often useful if a full system benchmark fails to work; The Data Benchmark is geared toward testing the performance of drives that are intended to simply store data; The Performance Consistency Benchmark is a multi-hour test that measures the consistency of performance.

One important thing to note about these benchmarks is that they can have an impact on the health of your storage devices, especially if you run them multiple times. The fast system and data standards only write 23GB and 15GB, respectively, but the full system standard will write more than 200GB and the performance consistency standard will write at least 23TB. I’d recommend staying away from the performance consistency test and running any of the other three benchmarks if you want to test your storage capacity.

Put it all together

Ryzen 7 7800X3D Box.

That’s all there is to PCMark 10, and now let’s take a look at the score from the PCMark 10 performance benchmark, which tests essentials, productivity, and digital content creation applications. This one is from our Ryzen 7 7800X3D review. For the sake of brevity, I will not be showing every individual score from each test, but only the overall score for each category and the criterion as a whole.

Ryzen 7 7800X3D

Ryzen 9 7900X

final total









Digital content creation



You can tell almost immediately that an overall score is not just an average of the scores from each category. PCMark 10 calculates an overall score using the geometric mean of the scores for each individual test, then takes the category scores and finds the geometric mean. PCMark 10 is supposed to use engineering means to negate the influence of external results, which can significantly skew a benchmark that tests many different categories.

Since PCMark 10 does all the analysis for us, there isn’t much here to set it apart. This makes comparing PCMark 10 scores very easy to understand, but it also hides what PCMark 10 actually tests and whether or not the score matters. The lack of raw data is a major reason why enthusiasts don’t tend to pay much attention to PCMark 10, but it’s undoubtedly a very comprehensive benchmark and test (for the most part) real software everyone uses, and that’s worth something.

How to download PCMark 10

PCMark 10 comes in two versions: Basic and Advanced. The basic version is free and only comes with the standard PCMark 10 performance benchmark, while the advanced version costs $30 and comes with everything else. You can get the basic version of steam And buy the advanced version directly from UL Solutions or on steam.