If your PC isn’t blazing along at the same pace it did when you first pressed the power button a few weeks, months, or years ago, you should invest in Iolo System Mechanic ($19.95 for 6 months) with an additional 25% cash back with Ebates. The tune-up utility suite whips your computer back into shape by defragging the hard drive, repairing Windows’s problematic registry, and tweaking CPU and RAM usage in real time. With this iteration, Iolo System Mechanic includes an unexpected and welcome new feature, PowerSense, which detects your PC’s activity and throttles the CPU up or down as needed. Iolo System Mechanic is pricier than some of its competition (like SlimCleaner), but Iolo’s utility comes packed with features that make it worth the price of admission.
Iolo System Mechanic is compatible with all PCs running Windows XP and higher, including Windows 8.1. Unlike most PC tune-up utilities, such as PC Tools Performance Toolkit, which limit you to three licenses, Iolo System Mechanic lets you install the software on any number of computers, provided that it’s not for business purposes. This is a welcome feature in the age of the multi-PC household. More companies should follow suit.
Iolo System Mechanic’s interface has several options in the left pane (Dashboard, ActiveCare, Internet Security, Toolbox, Reports) that have their own individual sub-categories that let you run specific tune-up tools. What’s new this time around is a second, dedicated LiveBoost Window that lets you see how Iolo System Mechanic makes on-the-fly CPU and RAM usage tweaks. I’ll touch on that in a bit.
The Clean-Up Process
The Overview screen opens by default when the program is launched, and it’s here that the Analyze Now button lives. Clicking the arrow next to it opens a drop-down box that presents two choices: Perform Quick Analysis and Perform Deep Analysis. The former is a quick (1 to 2 minutes) scan that looks for the most common PC problems; the latter is a longer (5 to 7 minutes) scan that checks for all problems. Considering the heavy use that my test laptop (a lenovo X220) had received, I went with the second option. Approximately 9 minutes later it finished the scan and uncovered numerous problems on my laptop.
Beneath the reading appeared a highlighted message: “Boost speed and stability by removing redundant programs with CRUDD Remover.” CRUDD is Iolo’s acronym for Commonly Redundant or Unnecessary Decelerators and Destabilizers—fancy talk for useless files that clog your PC. The idea behind the enhanced CRUDD Remover is to eliminate those extra programs as each application install theoretically slows your PC’s performance a bit. After running CRUDD Remover, several problems were detected on the PC, which were explained in simple detail on the Problems screen.
What I find truly cool is that Iolo System Mechanic doesn’t just serve up a list of problems — it provides blurbs that explain how these problems slow performance. During testing, I checked off the listed problems, clicked the Repair All button, and performed the required reboot. Performing another deep scan revealed that the issues had been addressed.
I ran Iolo’s Program Accelerator, which smartly realigns all of a program’s dependent files on the hard drive. It’s touted as being better than disk defragmenters, which can blindly compact and separate files even more. Program Accelerator took approximately 15 minutes to work its magic, and, when it was done, I discovered that it had realigned thousands of files and hundreds of file fragments. There are also a ton of other tools packed into the suite such as AcceleWrite (a new real-time feature that helps organize the way data is written to the PC’s HDD or SSD), IntelliStatus (which displays RAM and hard drive information and serves up cleaning tools), and the new Stability Guard (a tool that stops system threats using algorithms).
I tested Iolo System Mechanic’s ability to whip a PC back into shape by performing two tests—running the Geekbench system performance tool and measuring boot times—before and after running the software to compare the computer’s potency. Each test was run three times and averaged. Before Iolo scrubbed the system, the 2.3GHz Intel Core i5-2410M laptop with 8GB of RAM, Windows 10 operating system, and a 256GB Samsung SSD drive achieved a 5,914 Geekbench score, and booted in 50.2 seconds.
After I used Iolo System Mechanic, I saw much-improved system performance: The GeekBench score rose to 6,369, and the boot time decreased to 10.7 seconds. Those are impressive numbers just beat out SlimCleaner’s 6,338 GeekBench score and 41.1-second boot time.
After running the tests, I also used the computer extensively to get a sense of how the app changes the machine’s responsiveness. Iolo System Mechanic delivered a noticeable performance improvement, iTunes and Steam opened faster in the fresh environment. The PC, for all intents and purposes, felt new. The NetBooster Internet-boosting tool had only a nominal impact on my download speeds, however.
PowerSense: The New Kid on the Block
PowerSense is a new feature that dynamically senses PC activity and automatically adjusts the computer’s power settings and processor modes in real-time to match the task at hand. For example, PowerSense kept my four year-old business laptop in Balanced Mode, while I checked email and surfed the Web, but it kicked the computer into Ultra Performance Gaming Mode when I fired up Steam to play
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance $29.99 at Amazon. The power increase happened almost instantaneously.
Ultra Performance Mode focuses all processor cores on the task at hand and turns off non-essential background programs. As a result, I had a slightly smoother gaming experience with fewer slowdowns when the action became fast and furious. You can manually switch the power settings and create your own power-management profiles, too.
Iolo’s Excellent Evolution
Iolo System Mechanic may seem pricey, given the existence of free competitors, but its evolution from tune-up utility to an all-around PC enhancer is one that you shouldn’t overlook. If you want just the basic PC tune-up experience, the free SlimCleaner is a fine solution, but if you desire a tool that can do more, Iolo System Mechanic, it’s top choice for paid tune-up utilities, is the application you want to download. On top of this amazing software, Iolo’s products have received numerous industry awards and accolades from various software media sources.