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HWInfo finally introduces on-screen display functionality, making one of my all time favorite apps even better

 HWInfo screenshot.
HWInfo screenshot.

As a PC hardware geek, I consider HWInfo64 to be an absolutely essential tool. It's a comprehensive program that gives you information on just about every feature and monitoring statistic you could ever hope for.

Now it's getting a feature I have long wished for. The latest HWInfo beta version includes on-screen display support, meaning it can now function as an all in one system monitoring and information app. As a gamer, you previously needed to use apps like MSI Afterburner or FRAPS to give you OSD support. These apps are particularly useful for keeping an eye on essential things like your in-game GPU temperatures, but HWInfo can do so much more than that.

HWInfo can monitor literally hundreds of different functions related to every aspect of your system, and you can choose which ones to show in the OSD. You might want to keep an eye on an SSD that gets hot GPU air dumped on it, your GPU's memory usage, or how much power your CPU gobbles up at any given time.

OSD monitoring is far from a new concept. Core OSD capabilities such as temperature or clock speed monitoring would not have been worth mentioning as these functions are already supported by other apps. But, HWInfo's far more comprehensive monitoring options when combined with the functionality of CPU-Z, GPU-Z, or FRAPS is very welcome.

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The app is still in beta, and it's a standalone app only, meaning you'll need to drop into your main Program Files directory to get OSD support. In the future, installable versions of HWInfo will do this automatically.

I had a brief play with the beta and it seems to be working well for the most part. There's still some room for improvement as the interface seems a little clunky, and I had some trouble when switching between windowed and full screen modes. I'm sure it will catch up in time. Other monitoring apps have a long development head start.

If there's a downside, it's that the free version of HWInfo restricts OSD monitoring to just five items. That's adequate for most users, though of course, it's easy enough to switch which sensors you are monitoring.

The HWInfo OSD functionality is based on Intel's PresentMon, which means it can monitor things like in-game FPS and frame-time (in milliseconds), but that means it loses Windows XP support. Some retro gamers will be annoyed by that, but at least legacy builds of HWInfo are still available—without OSD support though.