It’s annoying when you have to figure out what you have inside the case – it usually means you have to open the case. However, now we have tools that we can download in Windows which allow us to see what we have running under the hood, so we don’t have to open up the box anymore.
Most people are familiar with Windows tools like Direct X, or checking control panel and then device manager. These are native tools that come with most versions of Windows since Windows XP. Direct X is used to play games and draw fancy objects and shapes. Direct X is used to take control of the hardware acceleration layer and deliver fast paced graphics to the Windows environment. It’ll tell you what graphics card you have, how much RAM that graphics card has, etc.
For some real useful information though, I recommend a program like CPU-Z. Easy to use, just download and install and it’ll tell you everything on your system. This includes what motherboard you have and what processor you have. Trying to figure out this information from Device Manager within Windows can be confusing and time consuming. CPU-Z makes it very simple with a tabbed approach to finding what you need.
An additional point worth mentioning with CPU-Z is that it does not take a long time to load. Some programs, such as DirectX want to run a scan on the hardware in the system before they will load. This is annoying and the premise is that the system already knows what it has, right – so why scan again when I run this program. Annoying.
CPU-Z only takes a few seconds and is pretty good at telling you what it’s doing.
Here we can see I have a Gigabyte motherboard, and the model number is shown. Seeing the version and date of the BIOS is very important if you are troubleshooting a BIOS related issue as well. Sometimes you can use this information if you are considering updating the BIOS. In this case, you can see the BIOS is a little old, but ultimately I have no reason or need to update the BIOS at this time. My AMD 6 core FX Series CPU is functioning without any problem – very quiet, too.