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What is Benchmark testing?

By Kitakabee, Community Contributor -

Every software passes through functional and non-functional testing to satisfy all the business requirements.

But to ensure there’s no compromise in the quality, you can go beyond business requirements and monitor all the performance standards, like product behavior, reliability, load capacity, speed, stability, performance under stress, etc. 

That’s where performance testing can help you achieve your desired results, and benchmark testing is a major subset of performance testing.

Benchmark testing is a method of testing that is used to measure a product or system’s performance against established standards or benchmarks.

Let’s dive into the nitty-gritty aspects of benchmark testing and understand how it can benefit your software quality.

Purpose of Benchmark Testing

The primary purpose of benchmark testing is to evaluate the performance of a product or system against established standards or benchmarks. It can allow you to determine the strengths and weaknesses of their products or systems and to identify areas for improvement.

That’s not it. 

Here are a variety of purposes that you can use benchmark testing for:

  1. Benchmark testing can be used during the development process to evaluate the performance by testing new systems and products and to identify areas for improvement before they are released to the market.
  2. It can be used to evaluate the existing systems’ performance and identify areas of optimization to improve their performance.
  3. You can also use benchmark testing as part of an overall quality assurance process to ensure that products and systems meet the performance expectations of their users.

But different types of benchmark tests have different purposes.

Types of Benchmark Tests

Each type of benchmark test has its own set of metrics used to evaluate performance. You can perform a combination of benchmark tests depending on their specific needs and requirements. Here are different types of benchmark tests that can be performed:

  1. System benchmarking: You can use system benchmark testing to focus on evaluating the performance of an entire system, including its hardware, software, and network components.
  2. Application benchmarking: It focuses on evaluating the performance of specific applications, such as databases, web applications, and office productivity applications. 
  3. Hardware benchmarking: This type of benchmark testing focuses on evaluating the performance of specific hardware components, such as processors, graphics cards, and memory.
  4. Network benchmarking: It focuses on evaluating the performance of network systems, including local area networks (LANs) and wide area networks (WANs).
  5. Storage benchmarking: You can use benchmark testing to evaluate the performance of storage systems, including hard drives, solid-state drives (SSDs), and storage area networks (SANs).

So, to execute a specific benchmark test, you must create a dedicated test plan.

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Creating a Benchmark Test Plan

To create a successful benchmark test plan, you should consider the following steps:

  1. Define the purpose of the benchmark test, which includes evaluating the performance of specific hardware, software, or network components, or measuring the performance of an entire system.
  2. Identify the components to be tested, which include specific hardware components, like processors or graphics cards, specific software applications, such as databases or web applications, or network systems, such as LANs or WANs.
  3. Determine the specific metrics that will be used to evaluate performance during the benchmark test.
  4. Once you have defined the purpose and metrics of the benchmark test, you should choose the tools that you will use to perform the test. You can choose commercial and open-source benchmarking tools available. 

By following these steps, you can create a successful benchmark test plan. Once your plan is ready, you can perform the benchmark testing.

How to Do Benchmark Testing?

Once the test plan is ready, here are the steps you can follow to perform the benchmark testing:

  1. Establish the test environment by setting up the hardware, software, and network components that will be used during the test.
  2. Create the data that will be used during the benchmark test.
  3. Execute the benchmark test, following the test plan that you have created. Make sure of documenting the results of each test case, including the metrics that you used to evaluate performance.
  4. Examine the results of the benchmark test to identify areas where performance can be improved.
  5. Summarize the results of the benchmark test and provide recommendations for improvement.

By following these above-mentioned steps, you can effectively perform benchmark testing to evaluate the performance of your systems and identify areas for improvement.

But there are a few components that are vital for the success of your benchmark testing.

Components of Benchmark Testing

The components of benchmark testing include:

  1. Test environment: It refers to the hardware, software, and network components that will be used during the benchmark test. The test environment should closely resemble the production environment that you are testing.
  2. Test data:  The data that will be used during the benchmark test is highly important. This could include sample data sets, test data generators, or other data sources.
  3. Test plan: Without a detailed description of the benchmark test, you can’t achieve your results. It should include the purpose and scope of the test, the test environment, the test data, and the metrics that you will use to evaluate performance.
  4. Benchmarking tools: You should choose the best tools suited to your specific needs and requirements. There are multiple commercial and open-source benchmarking tools available in the market. 
  5. Report: This is a summary of the benchmark test results and any recommendations for improvement. The report should include a clear and concise explanation of the results and any performance metrics collected during the test.

By understanding these components, you can effectively design and perform benchmark testing. Apart from these components, there are a few testing frameworks that you must know.

Benchmark Testing Frameworks

Several benchmark testing frameworks can be used to help you create and perform benchmark tests. Here are the popular benchmark testing frameworks:

  1. Apache JMeter: It is a popular open-source testing framework that can be used for load testing, performance testing, and benchmark testing.
  2. Gatling: You can use the open-source load testing framework that supports distributed testing, real-time reporting, and detailed test results.
  3. Grinder: It is an open-source load testing framework that can be used to perform benchmark tests on a variety of systems, including web applications, databases, and other types of systems.
  4. stress-ng: stress-ng is a Linux stress testing tool that can be used to perform benchmark tests on various system components, including CPU, memory, and I/O.

Each of these benchmark testing frameworks has its own strengths and weaknesses, so you should choose the framework that is best suited to your specific needs and requirements. Now let’s look at a few examples of benchmark tests.

Examples of Benchmark Tests

Here are some real-world examples of benchmark tests:

  1. Processor benchmark tests: These tests measure the performance of a computer’s processor by running a series of mathematical operations.
  2. Graphics card benchmark tests: These tests measure the performance of a computer’s graphics card by running a series of graphics-intensive operations. 
  3. Disk benchmark tests: These tests measure the performance of a computer’s disk drive by reading and writing data to and from the disk. The results of these tests can be used to compare the performance of different disk drives and determine which one is the fastest.

To ensure that these tests are up to the mark, you must follow specific best practices for benchmark testing.

Best Practices for Benchmark Testing

Here are some best practices for benchmark testing:

  1. Before starting a benchmark test, it is important to define clear and measurable goals for what you want to achieve.
  2. It is important to use standardized benchmark tests that have been widely accepted and used in the industry.
  3. To get an accurate picture of system performance, it is important to run benchmark tests multiple times on multiple systems. With a platform like BrowserStack, you can easily run different tests of various browser-OS combinations using the strong BrowserStack’s real device cloud infrastructure.
  4. Whenever possible, use real-world workloads that mimic actual use cases.
  5. When reporting the results of your benchmark tests, it is important to be transparent about the conditions under which the tests were run and the metrics that were measured.

Following the above best practices ensures that your benchmark tests are accurate, consistent, and meaningful.

Now let’s understand different factors that can affect your benchmark testing results.

Factors Affecting Benchmark Testing Results

There are numerous factors that can affect benchmark testing results, including

  • System configuration: Factors such as the amount of memory, the type and speed of the processor, and the amount of storage can all affect performance.
  • Operating system and drivers: Up-to-date drivers and an optimized operating system can improve performance, while outdated or misconfigured drivers and operating systems can have a negative impact.
  • Environmental factors: Factors like temperature and humidity can impact the performance of hardware components.
  • Workload: Different workloads can place different demands on the system and can produce different results. It is important to use a representative workload that accurately reflects the intended use of the system.

Now let’s check out different tools you can use for benchmark testing.

Tools for Benchmark Testing

Out of multiple tools for benchmark testing, here are some:

  1. PerformanceTest by PassMark: A comprehensive benchmarking tool that measures the performance of a system using a variety of tests, including CPU, memory, and disk performance.
  2. 3DMark: A popular benchmarking tool specifically designed for testing the performance of graphics cards and other components in gaming systems.
  3. Geekbench: A cross-platform benchmarking tool that measures the performance of a system’s processor and memory.
  4. PCMark: A benchmarking tool that measures the performance of a system in real-world scenarios, such as office productivity, web browsing, and video playback.

Using these important tools, you can ensure that your software is optimized to be used by national or international users. But apart from these, you can also rely on BrowserStack to ensure perfect compatibility of your software with different devices, browsers, and operating systems.

Interpreting Benchmark Test Results

Interpreting benchmark test results can be a complex process, as it requires a thorough understanding of the system being tested, the benchmark tests being run, and the results of those tests. Here are some steps to help you interpret benchmark test results:

  1. Before interpreting the results, it is important to understand the system being tested, including its hardware and software components, as well as its intended use.
  2. Familiarize yourself with the benchmark tests being run, including what each test measures and the metrics being used to measure performance.
  3. Carefully review the results of the benchmark tests, paying attention to the overall performance score, as well as the results of individual tests.
  4. To determine how well the system performed compared to other systems, and compare its results to the results of similar systems that have been benchmarked.
  5. Look for areas of the system where performance was significantly slower than expected, as these areas may indicate bottlenecks in the system.

Once done, you can use the results to make specific recommendations to achieve your desired software quality results. 

Importance of Benchmark Testing in Performance Optimization

Benchmark testing is important in performance optimization as it contributes to measuring and comparing different systems’ performance. This information is critical in making informed decisions about optimizing system performance, as it provides a baseline for evaluating the impact of changes to the system.

By regularly running benchmark tests, you can determine how changes to the system affect performance and use this information to make further optimizations. It can help you to identify bottlenecks and areas of the system that need improvement and prioritize performance optimization efforts.

Benchmark testing can help you assess the overall speed, stability, and efficiency of your software. But you require the best test environment to achieve your desired results.

You can rely on a real device cloud like BrowserStack to achieve accurate testing results every time. Access over 3000+ real mobile devices and desktop browsers for effective results.

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