For more than 40 years, rigorous, repeatable testing has been at the core of everything we do here at PCMag. Take a look inside PC Labs where we test, rate, and review thousands of technology products and services.

John Burek

Wendy Sheehan Donnell

By
John Burek

&
Wendy Sheehan Donnell

PCMag’s core mission has been to help you make better buying decisions and get more from technology by delivering independent reviews of the latest products and services. We’ve been testing, rating, and recommending technology products based on lab testing for more than 40 years. The rigorous, repeatable testing of more than 1,500 products each year is what gives us the best handle on the full range of the market, and has always set us apart from our competitors.

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Shortly after PC Magazine was born in 1982, PC Labs, a mammoth testing lab in New York City, was built. It has taken a variety of forms over the decades, including a 1990s stint associated with Ziff Davis Benchmark Operations (ZDBOp), a division of PCMag’s then-privately held mother company Ziff Davis. In its time, ZDBOp was a key player in the computing industry, devoted to advances in the art of benchmarking and creating tools for the industry to use in assessing PC performance. This was at a time when the early waves of PC clones had come roaring through the market, and the templates for personal computing as we know it today were being cut.

How We Test Displays

(Photo: Tony Hoffman)

PC Labs has housed, at times, more than 30 technology testers sitting together in that giant temperature-controlled room complete with anti-static flooring, dozens of benches with test beds, running benchmarks on desktops, laptops, PC peripherals and components, so that writers and editors could craft reviews to print in a twice-monthly magazine.

As the technology landscape has evolved, so has our testing. Now, in addition to all forms of PC hardware and software, we cover the full range of consumer technology including categories like smart home devices, digital health and fitness gear, and electric vehicles, all of which require out-of-lab testing. The core of PC Labs still remains in our New York offices, but our testing expertise is far more diffuse, spread across a team of more than 50 analysts, editors, reporters, and contributors across the United States and overseas.

How PCMag Tests TVs

PCMag Logo How PCMag Tests TVs

Combined, PC Labs’ on-staff analysts and key contributors can claim, conservatively, more than 600 years of combined experience in their fields. (Add them all together, and you’re contemporary with the Middle Ages, the Byzantine empire, and the Incas.) How much actual testing is that? To take just a simple example: We rate and review about 200 laptops and desktops each year, and each gets a dozen or more benchmark tests, that translates to around 2,500 annual tests run on PCs alone. Data for analysis and product comparisons is not in short supply.

How We Test Robot Vacuums

(Photo: Angela Moscaritolo)


Benchmarks & Beyond: Our Process

When evaluating products, repeatable, defensible benchmark and experiential testing is at the core of what we do. Wherever feasible, these processes are based on step-by-step scripts, exhaustively vetted for meaningful, consistent results. Sometimes, such as in cases of display testing, we use advanced, industry-standard measuring equipment to supplement our findings. In addition, some testing categories are anchored by testbed computers that we use over and over for consistency of results. (They are refreshed, and key products are retested on the new testbeds, when industry changes demand it.)

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How We Test SSDs

(Photo: Molly Flores)

Likewise, our scripts are often revised to match current trends in consumer/business PCs and related gear, and follow changes in core technology. When a script changes, products are only directly compared with other products tested on the same script, under the same conditions, for comparability of results.

How We Test Fitness Trackers

(Photo: Angela Moscaritolo)

Some of our benchmarking tools are industry standards. For PC testing, for example, the core of our benchmark suite is based on highly regarded tools from Underwriters’ Lab (UL, formerly Futuremark), supplemented heavily by repeatable, usage-representative tests from a host of other sources. In some cases, these tests are internally derived and designed.

Testing in the Real World

Benchmarks and performance numbers only take you so far in finding the right technology. It’s important to evaluate factors like value, features, and what it’s actually like to use that camera phone in a dim restaurant, wire that video doorbell, or configure that VPN. Luckily, our reviewers rate more products than anyone else, so they’re uniquely positioned to give you the full scoop, along with a close look at the competition so you can easily compare all the products you’re considering.

How We Test Displays

(Photo: Zlata Ivleva)

A Note About Ethics

We believe it’s essential for our audience to understand how our company earns money. The following statement is at the top of every story on our site:

PCMag reviews products independently, but we may earn affiliate commissions from buying links on this page.

The editorial team, however, does not handle affiliate commissions in any way. Our reviewers do not know how a particular story is monetized and do not receive any of the commission earned. Reviewers are paid for their work and do not earn bonuses. Sponsored articles exist on this website, but are disclosed as such.

Companies, even those with affiliate relationships with PCMag, or are owned by our parent company do not have any input into review scores or outcomes, and our writers have a collective bargaining agreement that disallows pay-for-play writing. For more, read our editorial mission statement.

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The variety of lab and real world testing processes requires an article for each major category we cover, just to scratch the surface of what we do, day in and day out. Scan below for more detailed dives by category into how we test everything we review.

PCs & Core Components

How We Test Laptops

(Photo: Molly Flores)

How We Test Laptops

How We Test Desktop PCs

How We Test SSDs

How We Test Graphics Cards

How We Test Processors


PC Peripherals & Displays

How We Test Displays

(Photo: Molly Flores)

How We Test Wi-Fi Routers

How We Test Monitors

How We Test Printers

How We Test Scanners

How We Test Projectors

How We Test Hard Drives


Mobile Phones & Cameras

How We Test Cameras

(Photo: Weston Almond)

How We Test Phones

How We Test Bluetooth Headsets

How We Test Cellular Modems and Hotspots

How We Test Tablets

How We Test Digital Cameras and Lenses

How We Test Drones


Smart Home & Fitness Gear

How We Test Smart Fitness Equipment

(Photo: Angela Moscaritolo)

How We Test Smart Home Devices

How We Test Robot Vacuums

How We Test Smart Displays

How We Test Smart Fitness Equipment

How We Test Fitness Trackers


A/V Gear

How We Test VR Headsets

(Photo: Molly Flores)

How We Test TVs

How We Test Speakers

How We Test Headphones

How Noise-Cancelling Headphones Work (and How We Test Them)

How We Test VR Headsets


Software & Services

How We Test VPNs

(Photo: Zlata Ivleva)

How We Test Antivirus and Security Software

How We Test Antispam

How We Test Password Managers

How We Test Web Hosting Services

What’s New Now to get our top stories delivered to your inbox every morning.”,”first_published_at”:”2021-09-30T21:30:40.000000Z”,”published_at”:”2022-08-31T18:35:24.000000Z”,”last_published_at”:”2022-08-31T18:35:20.000000Z”,”created_at”:null,”updated_at”:”2022-08-31T18:35:24.000000Z”})”>

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