Every once in a while, you need to know some very specific detail about your computer, whether it’s for a piece of software that you want to install or to yell out to the voice on the other side of the technical support line. Either way, it quite often happens that the spec sheet that came with your computer has inconveniently vanished and you can’t remember if your processor's internal data cache is 12kB or 16kB, or whether those holes in the back are USB 1.1 or 2.0. Thankfully SiSoftware have developed a solution that will answer these and many more questions you may have about the inner workings of your computer.
Sandra is a program that contains modules designed to carry out a number of functions on your PC such as benchmarking, analyzing and listing the hardware or software components. The interface is simple with clear groups and well-labeled tests for you to perform. Depending on what you want to check, the details will either be shown immediately or you're forced to wait some time for the spec to be analyzed. We would have preferred some warning when there was a wait involved instead of suddenly seeing a dialog saying not to move the mouse or press any keys for one to ten minutes! Putting this to the test, it seems not to be a threat but a promise, because the program accordingly froze when we went against this “advice”.
Where Sandra could come in very useful is with its benchmarks, if you want to tweak the performance and need to judge just how each variable affects the overall efficiency. Unfortunately much of the data that you get appears in quite cryptic terms and unless you’re willing to read up on what each specification means (the help file is a good source for definitions and tips) then you could well be left scratching your head more than once. On the other hand, if you know exactly what every entry means and would like to make any edits, then you may be frustrated by the fact that nothing displayed can be changed, so you’ll have to get stuck in to the registry and get your hands dirty.
On one occasion we noticed that when Sandra tried to run an IP test, after failing once, it retried again and again and became stuck in an endless loop that must be stopped by the user. On the whole, this little glitch doesn’t take away from the usefulness of Sandra and it remains the best system analysis tool we’ve seen to date. Thanks to its comprehensive checks and useful advice, this is a recommended download for just about everyone.