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Though many users are satisfied with the information and statistics provided by Windows’ Task Manager, others might find its overall values not accurate enough. System Monitor II is a free Windows desktop gadget that provides you with highly accurate real-time data of your system’s overall memory, RAM memory, and PageFile usage, as well as the CPU usage and temperature broken down per core. All this valuable information is shown in various ways – in its percentage values, in graphical form, and as bars.
Windows desktop gadgets were first used in Vista and were carried over to Windows 7 in a different form. If you are using a later version of Windows, you will need to install a third-party tool to enable this feature, also known as the Windows sidebar. As a Windows 10 user, I decided to download and install Desktop Gadget Installer prior to adding System Monitor II to my desktop, and it worked like a charm. Installing the gadget itself was a completely different story, though. Instead of providing the user with the corresponding .gadget file right away, the developer decided to make us download an EXE file wrapped up in an ISO file. This EXE file – which is nothing but a downloader for a ZIP archive that contains the final .gadget file – tries to lure you to install up to five completely unrelated tools on your PC before downloading the file you’re looking for. Even if you manage to avoid installing all of those, the program will still add a couple of new tools to your desktop without even asking you for permission, not to mention the changes it performs on all your browsers’ start page and search engine without warning. Hadn’t it been for the accurate and comprehensive information that this gadget provides, this annoying and never-ending installation process would have been enough to make me think twice about adding it to my desktop.
Practicalities aside, System Monitor II is a valuable monitoring tool that is a number of steps ahead of the information provided by Windows Task Monitor. The main difference lies in the way it breaks down the overall CPU usage into each of the cores in your processor – be them two, four, or ten – and the way the information about the memory usage is presented.
As for the memory usage, you will receive real-time information, in both numerical and graphical form, of the used, free, and total RAM memory; the used, free, and total PageFile values, and the used, free, and total values for the overall memory. The information is provided in MB and GB, as progress bars, percentages, and as level graphs. CPU usage is broken down into as many progress bars as cores in your processor. Thus, a color-coded bar, a temperature value, and a usage percentage is displayed for each core available. The way the program displays all this information can be fully customized to fit your preferences. You can change the size of the gadget, the color code, the core temperature settings, the way the graphs are presented (separately or combined, for instance), hide and show specific data about your CPU and memory, etc.
All in all, System Monitor II is a free useful desktop gadget that complements the information provided by the Task Manager with accurate and more nicely presented data about each of the elements involved in your CPU and memory usage. If only the installation process were more straightforward and completely adware-free, and the tool itself would evolve from the desktop gadget it is now to a full-bodied app, perfectly and straight away compatible with more modern versions of Windows, this is one of those free utilities that I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend to anyone working on a PC.
- Comprehensive information about your processors and memory usage
- Provides you with data specific to each core
- Real-time temperature and usage information
- Information about the RAM, pagefile, and total memory usage
- Requires a third-party program to work on Windows 10
- Unnecessarily complex installation process
- Tries to install up to five unrequested tools on your PC
- Installs programs without asking and changes your browsers' settings