4.0 star rating

iolo System Mechanic 8.5 Review

Pros: One-click scan and repair; Provides a system rating before and after repair; Fixes System Mechanic 8.0s problems;
Cons: Pricier than some other options; Performance enhancement not as good as TuneUp Utilities 2009
The Verdict: This excellent PC maintenance tool packs enough simplicity and depth for pros and novices alike.



An underperforming PC is the bane of every computer user’s existence. Slow start-up times and sluggish application loads are enough to make you want to pull your hair out, but maintenance utility iolo System Mechanic 8.5 ($34.97 for three licenses) can scrub the cobwebs out of a notebook’s guts to get it working as good as new—if not better. It builds upon the easy-to-use foundation laid by System Mechanic 8.0, but removes some of compatibility problems and Blue Screens of Death we experienced in that version.

Article Continued Below

Simple, Clean Interface

System Mechanic 8.5’s interface is simple enough not to intimidate novices, but it adds plenty of customizable features that will intrigue tweakers. The main area is dominated by the left-hand pane, which includes four headings: Dashboard, ActiveCare, Tools, and Reports. Dashboard enables one-click system analysis and displays known problems; ActiveCare contains automated settings for all of the different processes; and Tools allows users to run specific scans and repairs. Under the Automated Tasks tab, you can customize the repairs via disable/enable toggles.

Options Galore

Through the ActiveCare tab, we were able to automate individual tasks, which ranged from checking for low memory to shortcut repairs and drive fragmentation. Intermediate users will appreciate the Power Tools section, which divides tasks not into individual processes, but into four major categories: PC Accelerator, PC Repair, PC Cleanup, and PC Security. The Individual Tools tab is more advanced, allowing users to focus on the improvements they want to see in their computer’s performance.

In the Tools menu, users can choose increase Performance, Enhance Performance, Free Up Disk Space, Repair Problems, Ensure Personal Privacy, Manage System Configuration, and Perform Diagnostics. DriveSense allowed us to monitor our hard drive’s activity as well as its temperature. Included for each process are a description (so you will always know what you’re doing) and a Start button to run it. Early adopters will be happy to learn that System Mechanic 8.5 is compatible with 64-bit Windows operating systems as well as Windows 7.

Post-Cleanup Performance

When System Mechanic 8.5 scanned and displayed a list of six problems found on our four-year-old Dell Inspiron 1150 (2.6-GHz Intel Celeron CPU, 256MB of RAM, Windows XP), we hit Repair All to clean up the mess. Afterward, the PC was given a rating of Fair, from an initial rating of Poor.

Before running System Mechanic 8.5 on our Inspiron 1150, we ran Cinebench 10 (a CPU and RAM benchmark) and Geekbench 2 (a CPU and GPU benchmark) to test the system’s performance. The notebook scored 178 and 633 on Cinebench (tests of OpenGL and single CPU muscle, respectively), while Geekbench achieved a mark of 705. After running System Mechanic 8.5, the scores increased to 203, 661, and 724—some of the greatest improvements among the four suites we reviewed. Overall system performance felt snappier, but the performance enhancement wasn’t as significant as with TuneUp Utilities 2009.

We decided to test the system’s multimedia muscle by ripping and converting files. Ripping the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s Show Your Bones CD using iTunes 8 took 7 minutes and 59 seconds before running System Mechanic 8.5, and 7:14 after. Transcoding a 114MB MPEG-4 video clip to WMV took 13 minutes and 28 seconds before System Mechanic 8.5, and dropped dramatically to just 5:32 after we eliminated the clutter. Both the ripping and the transcoding times were third best when compared to the other suites we’ve recently reviewed.

System Mechanic 8.5 caused the biggest improvement in the area of boot time: the time to load Windows XP and applications was slashed from 1:30 to 1:16. Competitor TuneUp Utilities 2009 made for the fastest boot time with its cleanup, at 1 minute and 13 seconds.

If you’re worried about sluggish performance while iolo System Mechanic 8.5 is running, don’t be; the system ran smoothly until we performed several activities at once (such as running multiple Web browsers and streaming music).


Iolo System Mechanic 8.5 is as thorough as previous incarnations, while eliminating the flaws found in System Mechanics 8.0 (and adding Windows 7 and 64-bit OS support). It may not provide the same performance-enhancing boost as TuneUp Utilities 2009 (or its unique features), but it has a far greater immediate impact than Large Software PC Tune-Up and Macecraft jv16 PowerTools 2009.

Tags: iolo System Mechanic 8.5, Iolo System Mechanic 8.0, Iolo System Mechanic, Iolo Systems, iolo, utilities, Software, business, reviews

Technical Specifications
iolo System Mechanic 8.5

Software TypeUtilities
Required Processor
Software Required OS:
Required RAM256MB
Disk Space25MB
All Product Types Accessories eReaders Laptops Networking Projectors Smartphones Software Storage Tablets
All Subcategories
All Subcategories All-Purpose Budget Business Desktop Replacement Gaming Multimedia Netbook Nettop Rugged Student Tablet PCs Ultraportable
Acer Alienware Apple Archos ASUS AVADirect Averatec BeagleBone BenQ CTL Corp. CyberPowerPC Dell Digital Storm eMachines Emtec Eurocom Everex Fujitsu GammaTech Gateway General Dynamics Getac Gigabyte Google Hercules HP HTC iBuyPower Intel Lenovo Maingear MSI Nokia Nvidia OCZ OLPC OQO Origin Panasonic Razer Sager Samsung Sony Sony PlayStation Sylvania Systemax TabletKiosk Toshiba Verizon Viewsonic Viliv Vizio VooDoo Workhorse PC ZT Systems
Minimum Rating
Any Rating Editor's Choice 4.5 Stars 4.0 Stars 3.5 Stars 3.0 Stars
Screen Size
10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 20 21 4 5 6 7 8 9
1024x576 1024x600 1024x768 1136 x 768 1200X800 1280 x 720 1280x1024 1280x768 1280x800 1366x678 1366x768 1440x1050 1440x900 1600x768 1600x900 1680x1050 1680x945 1792 x 768 1900x1080 1920x1080 1920x1200 2560 x 1440 2560 x 1600 2560 x 1700 2880 x 1620 2880 x 1880 3200 x 1800 3840 x 2160 800x400 800x480
Weight Range
10.1 - 12.0 pounds 12.1 - 14.0 pounds 14.1 - 16.0 pounds 2 lbs 2 pounds and under 2+ lbs 2.1 - 4.0 pounds 4.1 - 6.0 pounds 6.1 - 8.0 pounds 8.1 - 10.0 pounds Over 16 pounds Under 2 pounds
more options