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System Mechanic 10

Score: 92%
ESRB: Not Rated
Publisher: iolo technologies
Developer: iolo technologies
Media: Download/1
Players: N/A
Genre: Miscellaneous

Graphics & Sound:

This is not a game. System Mechanic 10 is a software suite designed to help you keep your computers nicely tuned, so you can get the best performance out of your PC games ...or other programs, for that matter. While there aren't any sounds that I can remember, there are actually some very nice visuals in System Mechanic 10. Some of the U.I. animations reminded me of things that one might see in a movie - highly animated visuals that clearly convey the process that's going on without trying to indicate how it's being done. When defragging the memory, for example, the screen displays a stick of RAM with little boxes that light up as the process progresses. This is, for all intents and purposes, just a progress bar, but it does a good job of conveying what's occurring and how much longer the process will continue.

Gameplay:

I read a cross-comparison of system clean-up programs, recently, and the gist of the article was that you can't bring an old computer back from the dead by running a clean-up tool on it and that you're better off saving your money towards a new computer. Obviously, software isn't magic and computer technology is advancing constantly, so you can't run a program and bestow new powers on your PC... (That's what hardware is for...) However, there are a lot of things that can slow down your PC that can be resolved with software... fragmented hard drives, overflowing Internet cache, redundant programs... unnecessary services running in the background... There are too many things to easily remember them, much less to address them.

System Mechanic 10 offers a wide selection of tools to address these problems. As you would expect, there's the ability to defragment your drives. That's so common it's even built into Windows. System Mechanic 10, however, goes above and beyond just defragmenting your hard drives. The DriveAccelerator feature does what you'd expect, but sports a disc-shaped graph that represents the status of your hard-drive, doing a good job of helping you to visualize the condition your hard drive is in and how much work remains to be done at a glance. Additionally, the DriveAccelerator features configurable Boot-Time Defragmentation, allowing you to specify files that you want to be re-evaluated and, if need be, defragmented, each time you reboot your machine. There's even a Right-Click Defragmentation feature that will allow you to kick off a defrag on a specified file from Windows Explorer, simply by right-clicking on the file and selecting the action from the list.

The Program Accelerator goes beyond merely aligning files into consecutive blocks of memory, by taking into consideration what files are used in conjunction with each other, allowing the program to re-align a game's related files so that they are highly optimized for use with each other, not merely defragged. For those gamers with solid state hard-drives, System Mechanic 10 has a special defragging routine just for you; since SSD hard-drives don't have moving parts and aren't laid-out the way that platter-based hard-drives are, the typical old defragging process isn't optimal for SSD drives. This need is addressed by the SSD Accelerator.

System Mechanic 10 also offers the ability to defrag your computer's RAM, in order to clean up unnecessarily locked-up memory and to improve system speed and stability.

There are also several different things that System Mechanic 10 can do to optimize your Windows registry. The Registry Compactor can defragment and compact your registry and remove invalid entries. And, of course, it backs up your registry before starting, in case anything should go wrong. Further, you can set up ActiveCare to regularly monitor, maintain and backup your registry, to keep Windows happily moving along.

The CRUDD Remover is an interesting feature, that actually seeks to help you reduce the number of programs on your machine by pointing out groups of programs that do the same thing. Do you really need five browsers? Did you even realize you still have Quicktime player installed? This feature will group similar applications by category, and let you choose whether you want to pare some of them out or not.

One feature is called the "NetBooster(R)" and is supposed to tune your PC's settings so you get the best speed you can support, given your hardware and Internet access. It asks a couple of questions pertaining to your Internet access, then changes some settings for you. After a reboot, you're good to go. I had my doubts about this feature, as I've not really had any luck with Internet optimizers in the past, but I gave it a shot anyway. Prior to optimizing my settings, I was getting average download speeds that were ranging in the 4-5.75 Mbps. After optimizing, I would routinely get over 6 Mbps, and observed a maximum download speed of 17.97 Mbps, with a ping of 23-27 ms, and an upload speed of 5.24 Mbps. I tested this same feature on a couple other PCs around the house and found similar positive results on those as well, and although the 17.97 Mbps result was not matched by the other PCs, it improved all three of the machines I tested with.

Of course, gamers will be interested in less-cluttered drives and faster Internet access speeds, but there's more tools, still, that will be of interest to gamers. The Designated Drivers feature will automatically search for the latest Windows-approved drivers for your hardware, from graphics cards to gaming mice, and will install them for you, to let you take full advantage of your gaming rig's hardware. And, when things go awry, there's the System Troubleshooter to help you recover from an unstable drive or system.

As far as the results on actual gameplay, System Mechanic 10 couldn't have come at a better time. I have reviewed a few PC games lately, mostly MMORPGs, and with all of the updates, fragmentation was one problem, but I'd been having issues with my computer, where I'd come back after not using it for a while and it would be extremely sluggish, to the point of being non-functional. On a couple of occasions, I had to simply power it down because I couldn't get it to shut-down properly. I ran just about everything in System Mechanic 10 on my system and, afterward, my computer hasn't had in issue like that since. Mind you, the day that I did most of the maintenance to my machine, System Mechanic 10 kept my computer busy with just maintenance for about eight hours, with the various cleaning tools and defrag and scanning for hard-drive errors and running scandisk. System Mechanic 10 can do a lot for you, but it's going to take time to optimize a hard-drive, and the larger the drive, the longer it's going to take.


Difficulty:

System Mechanic 10 let's you be you; you can use it to help you keep your systems maintained whether you're unfamiliar with computers or a certified expert... Or anything in between. For the uninitiated, there are "one-touch-solutions" for the various issues... and, if you like, you can tell System Mechanic 10 to actively monitor your system and fix these issues as needed, without further interaction from you. Or, if you know a bit more about what should and shouldn't be on your system, you can select to walk through a wizard for a certain issue type and manually indicate what does or doesn't need to be addressed.

Meanwhile, experts at computer system health can utilize a lot of individual tools and can set up some impressive features, such as configuring your system to defrag certain files on boot, using their dos-based defrag tool. Or, if there's a file that you think may need defragging, you can right click on it and defragment a single file on demand! There are also profiles for background processes, allowing you to set up different configurations of background processes that you can select to kill unwanted processes when you are about to play a resource-intensive game, for example, along with the ability to turn off the profile when you're done. With this tool, you can turn off, say, the Steam client and your iTunes update software while you play that hot new MMORPG, then easily turn those services back on after you've finished your gaming session.


Game Mechanics:

In general, System Mechanic 10 is an awesome tool... or suite of tools, actually, capable of tuning your PC on a wide variety of performance and security concerns. However, I found that every time I ran a test that included looking for hard drive errors, System Mechanic 10 would report that I had some and would suggest that I run CHKDSK to check my disk for errors and correct them. However, CHKDSK never found any errors to correct. Thankfully, System Mechanic 10 allows you to choose to hide problems and ignore them. I did this and no longer received warnings about drive errors. In this manner, you can use System Mechanic 10 on demand or allow it to check for some (or all) problems when your system is idle... and you can ignore any individual items that you don't want to monitor with System Mechanic 10 or don't want to monitor at all.

I also was reminded (the hard way) that I had some special Internet security settings by heeding the software's warnings and setting them back to default, then spending 10-15 minutes to get one of the websites I use to work correctly.

The icing on the cake, however, is that when you buy System Mechanic 10, the standard home license allows you to use it on every (non-business use) PC in your house. You can use it on your desktop, your laptop, your wife's desktop, the media center, your kids' computer (if they have one... and if you have kids). Add to that the fact that it works on Windows XP and Windows 7, and you can use it around the house on the older systems and your new gaming rig. This fact makes it a great deal, and the sheer number of tools makes it a great part of your PC maintenance arsenal. I highly recommend System Mechanic 10 for your home if you have Windows PCs that need a bit of sprucing up to help them relive their glory days.


-Geck0, GameVortex Communications
AKA Robert Perkins

Minimum System Requirements:



Windows (7, Vista, or XP), Internet connection (for license activation), Internet Explorer 6.0 or later, 256 MB of RAM, 30 MB of free hard drive space (Download size: 17.5 MB)
 

Test System:



MS Windows XP Home Edition, AMD Dual-Core, 3.11 GHz, 2 GB RAM, Award Modular BIOS v6.00PG, Gateway HD2201 21" HDMI Monitor, Sony SDM-HS73 Monitor, ATI Radeon HD 2400 (256 MB) , A30 Gaming Headset, Realtek HD Audio, Creative SB X-Fi, 1.5 TB Western Digital Caviar Green SATA Hard Drive, Sony DVD RW, Cable Modem, Logitech Wireless Gaming Mouse G700

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