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Burn-In Programs

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Dec 15, 2001
I am writing this guide for anyone who wants more information about programs that are commonly refered to as "burn-in" programs, and are used by overclockers to both burn-in and test the stabilty of an overclocked system. I am by no means an expert at this, so if anyone has anything of value to add to this document, please feel free to do so...this is by no means a comprehensive guide, and I would ask that anyone who has any other programs to add to do so. This thread is for information concerning the tools of our trade, so let's keep it up-to-date...

Burning in a chip is (sometimes) an effective means of producing higher, more stable overclocking from your system. By applying maximum voltage to a chip, while running at the lowest FSB speeds with good temps, you are "stretching" that chips tolerance for more voltage and power. After a good burn-in, overclockers will often find that they can reach higher FSB speeds with less voltage increase, and lower temps. This is the sole purpose of a burn-in. A more technical aspect of this theory can be read here...

Testing for stability is another must for the overclocker. What good is your 900MHz Celeron, overclocked @ 1200MHz, if you can't unzip a file without getting a CRC error? Or your favorite game locking up, forcing a reboot? Just because an overclocked system will boot at any speed, does not mean it is STABLE at that speed. Burn-in programs are used to determine the stability of a system, by putting that system under stress and applying a full load to the chip. By keeping the chip under full load, as well as the other system components, you will find out whether or not your chip can handle the overclock successfully. You can also root out peripheral problems using these programs, to determine if your sound card, video card, HDD, etc. is the weak link in your system.

Before using any of the programs below, make sure that you have proper cooling for your processor. These programs will cause your chip to generate ALOT of heat...some people use some of these programs to benchmark their cooling, to determine if their HS is working well enough to overclock with.

Some of the better programs are documented here, with links, definitions, and what they are most commonly used for:

NOTE: There is no specific program that works better for a given chip. All burn-in programs will have the same effect on your system, no matter if you run an AMD or an Intel processor.

NOTE: These programs are listed in NO SPECIFIC ORDER...people will have different opinions as to which one works best...I am just presenting them to you for reference only.

Prime95: This is perhaps on of the best, and also well-known, burn-in programs. It's real use is the search for a Mersenne prime number. It does this by utilizing your chip to perform millions of mathmatical calculations. This makes it perfect for testing stability, because if an incorrect calculation is made by your chip (unstable overclock), the program will stop running. Because it puts such a load on your proccessor, it can also used for burn-in purposes as well. To utilize the program for a burn in, start the program, and click on Options > CPU... to set your processor speed. Then click on Options > Torture Test, and let it run, either until it stops with an error, or until you are satisfied with your stabilty and temps (several hours, or several days!)

Toast: This program was written for one thing, and one thing only...to heat up your CPU! It puts your chip under full load, and your temps rise quick...so good cooling is a must! This program is good to check for stability related to heat issues...just run it under high priority for a few hours. (This program can be downloaded from the link at the bottom of this post)

SuperPi: A mathmatical program similar to Prime95, this program puts your chip under "equation" load, running millions of mathmatical algorythms at a time to calculate PI up to 33.55 million digits. A very small and powerful burn-in tool.

CPU Stability Test: Written by Jouni Vuorio, this program tests the stability of your entire system, including peripherals. It has a normal test for your system, and a heating test for your cooling. A nice program that has been around for some time, it will put your entire system through the guantlet.

SiSoft Sandra: This program is more than just a burn-in tool, but for right now we will focus on that aspect alone. By using the Burn-in Wizard, you can loop through several benchmarking tests, and run your system through the ringer for as long as you want. Not just centered on the chip, Sandra will allow you to test the stability of your system as a whole, by looping benchmarks on your memory, your HDD, your peripherals...an excellent program.

[email protected]: This program utilizes your spare cpu cycles to fold proteins for medical research, and is an excellent way to keep a load on your CPU.

S.E.T.I.: The Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence; Another program that utilizes spare CPU cycles to decipher radio signals from outer space, this one will keep your CPU humming...

The best way to utilize any of these programs for the purpose of burning-in or benching stability is to run several of them at the same time. A typical burn-in on on of my systems would include Prime95, Sandra looped at 999, and Toast on normal priority for a period of 24 hours, minimum. A stability test would include those three mentioned above, with Windows Media Player and Internet Explorer open as well, for the same amount of time, minimum.

I am sure there are other programs out there that will do an excellent job of burning-in a proccessor or a system...the ones listed above are the most popular, and you will see them referenced quite a bit on this forum.

I chose not to list any video burn-in programs, for two reasons. One, video programs are a bench for your video more than your CPU. You may be perfectly stable at xMHz, but have a low-line video card that won't run the testing loop...this is NOT an accurate reflection of your overclock (trust me, I fall into that catagory...). Secondly, there are just too many to mention in this document, as almost every 3D game has a demo you can run for this purpose...if you would like to post some, with the advantages of running them, then by all means, please do so below.

This is just to get you started...now let's add some more programs to this list, members!
Last edited:


Inactive Moderator
Feb 13, 2001
Twin Cities
If you want to test a cooling setup, use CPUBurn. If you want to test stability, then use Prime95 or one of the other programs. Prime 95 and some of those other programs spend too much processing time doing file transfers and other non-stressing routines and that takes away from the heat developed. CPUBurn runs 4-5C hotter than Prime95 and is probably closer to developing the actual wattage calculated using Radiate or NewWatt, but it does not test as effectively for stability. I have crashed it though, when I went one step too far, so it does test stability somewhat. Last post before I leave for Chicago. TTYL