How to specify PC performance with
vendor-neutral benchmarks

What is a benchmark?

The only way to guarantee savings in procurement processes is with fair and open competition.

But writing vendor-neutral tenders for IT systems is not easy. Precisely defining the required system performance is a major challenge to purchasers in public offices.

The best approach for describing and comparing the performance of computer systems uses programs called benchmarks. A benchmarking program runs a series of well-defined tests on the system and generates a score that represents the system's performance.

Benchmarks provide a specific, comparable and reproducible method of objectively measuring the performance of a computer system. Evaluating complete systems using performance-based benchmarks leads to more informed decisions.

Benchmarks for procurement

PCMark 8 is the ideal benchmark for governments and other public bodies seeking a vendor-neutral solution. It provides accurate, relevant, impartial and practical benchmark tests for specifying and comparing the performance of Windows PCs, notebooks, and tablets.

PCMark benchmarks are used by the governments of France, Germany, Northern Ireland, and Brazil as well as the European Commision.

UL has a long history of working with governments and other public procurement agencies. In addition to complimentary licenses and advice, we offer source code access and priority technical support at no cost to qualifying organisations.

If you work for a government agency or other public body and would like to know more about using UL benchmarks, please contact us at

Vendor-neutral process

UL benchmarks, previously knows as Futuremark benchmarks, have been the industry standard benchmarks following a strict code of neutrality since 1997. We make the world’s most widely-used performance tests for PCs, laptops, notebooks, tablets, and smartphones.

UL creates benchmarks in cooperation with the world's leading technology companies using an open and transparent process that guarantees fair and neutral benchmark results.

UL is a global safety science company with more than a century of expertise and innovation in the fields of product safety testing, inspection and verification services.

UL partners with governments, regulators, businesses, manufacturers, and trade associations to play a key role in the development and harmonization of national and international standards.

Step 1: Licensing

Complimentary Government License

We support governments, public procurement agencies, and other qualifying organisations with complimentary licenses, source code access, and priority technical support and advice at no cost. Contact us to discuss your requirements.

Contact us

Single-Seat License from $1495 per year

Vendors bidding for a tender should purchase a PCMark 8 Professional Edition Single-Seat License. To run PCMark 8 on more than one system simultaneously, you will need an equivalent number of Professional Edition licenses or a Site License.

Contact us for a quote

Step 2: Download PCMark 8

Which version should I use?

PCMark 8 is updated regularly with useful new features and to ensure compatibility with the latest hardware. We recommend using the latest version. Some governments require the use of a previous version in their tenders.

UL guarantees that results are comparable across application versions provided that the benchmark version number is the same. For example, Work 2.0 scores from the latest version are comparable with Work 2.0 scores from v2.1.274.

Benchmark version numbers change rarely, and only when absolutely necessary to accommodate changes in third party applications or from other unavoidable bug fixes.

The Compatibility Mode setting in PCMark 8 Professional Edition lets you run older versions of each test if you need to compare scores with historical benchmark results.

Latest version

PCMark 8 v2.10.901 | May 31, 2018

  • Work 2.0
  • Creative 3.0
  • Home 3.0
  • Applications (MS Office) 1.0
  • Applications (Adobe CC) 2.0
  • Storage 2.0

For Bitkom Guideline 4.0

PCMark 8 v2.1.274

  • Work 2.0
  • Creative 3.0
  • Home 3.0
  • Applications (MS Office) 1.0
  • Applications (Adobe) 1.0
  • Storage 1.1

Step 3: Choose a suitable benchmark test

PCMark 8 offers several benchmark tests. Each one is designed around a specific scenario such as home or office use. You should choose the test that best matches the intended audience for the device being tested. For government procurement, we recommend using one of the four tests below.

Each benchmark produces a score that you can use to compare systems. A higher score indicates better performance. You'll also get detailed results and monitoring charts that provide a deeper understanding of performance during each workload.

There is no overall PCMark score. When testing systems or components, be sure to use the most appropriate benchmark for the hardware's capabilities and report your results using the full name of the test.

PCMark 8 offers two complementary running modes for its Work, Creative, and Home benchmark.

In Conventional mode the workloads do not use OpenCL. This reflects how most software works today, with the score providing a performance baseline.

Accelerated mode uses OpenCL acceleration, anticipating how software will work in the future.


PCMark 8 Work is the ideal benchmark for governments purchasing PCs for general office use. It measures system performance for typical office tasks such as writing documents, browsing websites, creating spreadsheets and using video chat.


The PCMark 8 Creative benchmark represents the requirements of creative professionals who work with media content. It includes web browsing, photo editing, video editing, group video chat, media transcoding, and 3D graphics workloads.

Microsoft Office Applications

This benchmark measures system performance while performing typical tasks using popular Microsoft Office applications such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint. You must have the relevant applications installed in order to run this benchmark.

Adobe CC Applications

This benchmark measures system performance while performing typical tasks using popular Adobe Creative Cloud applications such as Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, and After Effects. You must have these applications installed to run this benchmark.

Step 4: Follow benchmarking best practice

How to get accurate and precise results

In general, you should benchmark every system under the same conditions. For example, you should test every system in the same location, at room temperature, and away from direct sunlight and other heat sources.

To get accurate and consistent benchmark results you should test clean systems without third party software installed. If this is not possible, close as many background tasks as possible, especially automatic updates and notifications.

Running PCMark 8 repeatedly on a consistently performing system in a well-controlled environment will usually produce scores that fall within a 3% range.

A score may occasionally fall outside the margin of error since there are factors that cannot be completely controlled in a modern, multitasking operating system. There are also devices that simply do not offer consistent performance due to their design. In these cases, it is necessary to run the benchmark multiple times, and take an average of the results.

How to set up a PC for testing

Before you start, check that the system meets the minimum or recommended requirements for PCMark 8 at the bottom of this page. Official tenders may specify additional or alternative configuration requirements and test procedures.

  1. Install all critical updates to ensure the operating system is up to date.
  2. Install the latest stable drivers for the hardware.
  3. Restart the computer.
  4. Wait 2 minutes for startup to complete.
  5. Close other programs, including those that may be running in the background.
  6. Wait for 15 minutes.
  7. Run the benchmark.
  8. Repeat from step 3 at least three times to verify your results.

Good testing guide

  • Running other programs and tasks during the benchmark can affect the results.
  • Avoid touching the mouse, keyboard or touchscreen while tests are running.
  • Do not change the window focus while the benchmark is running.
  • Press the ESC key if you want to stop the test.

PCMark 8 System requirements

Minimum system requirements

OS: Microsoft Windows 7
Processor Dual core processor
Memory 2 GB
Graphics DirectX 9.0c compatible
Display 1366 × 768 resolution
Storage 30 GB free hard disk space

Internet Explorer 10 (or later) required with Windows 7.
Download Internet Explorer 11 from Microsoft

Users with Windows 8 N or Windows 8 KN Edition will need to install Windows Media Player 12. Download and install it here.

Recommended system requirements

OS: Microsoft Windows 7 or Windows 8
Processor Dual core processor
Memory 2 GB
Graphics DirectX 11 compatible
Display 1920 × 1080 resolution
Storage 30 GB free hard disk space

PCMark Creative benchmark requires hardware that supports all DirectX 11 features.

You must have the relevant Adobe and Microsoft applications installed in order to run the PCMark 8 Applications benchmarks. PCMark 8 is compatible with Adobe Creative Cloud and Microsoft Office 2010 or later.

An Internet connection is required for activation and some program features.

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