Does anyone know any good diagnostic tools for Mac? something inline with Apple Hardware Test, Apple Service Diagnostics, tech tool pro, preferably more in depth perhaps something low level, pre-OS-startup

I need to do a complete hardware test on some MacBooks and one iMac, that is to do a thorough test of all components GPU, CPU, HDD, ODD, logic board, memory. apple hardware test would suffice however i don't have the option to use it on all the machines. if there is somehow a way to download and run it through say an usb thumb drive, this would be ideal.

basically as stated it needs to be ha hardware test similar to apples own hardware test. i need it for situations where i can't run AHT. For intel MACs

Also, I do not want benchmarks!

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    What are you trying to test? GPU benchmarks or just system diagnostics? Mar 26, 2014 at 23:05
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    There is Apple Hardware Test (AHT) and also Apple Service Diagnostics (ASD). ASD is not publicly available but sounds more in line with what you may be after?
    – pknz
    Mar 26, 2014 at 23:23
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    @Macmaniman what are you testing and why? There are tools to test certain things individually but every tests has a function. What function are you looking for/needing?
    – Andrew U.
    Mar 27, 2014 at 11:39
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    you could try system_profiler, the Macbooks should have shipped with it on them, so downloading it shouldn't be a huge concern. I don't know whether iMac ships with it too, though. Mar 27, 2014 at 15:34
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    I'd like to put a pause on this post to see if it needs to be a CW post or if it can be tightened up. Mac are broad. One tool that works for PPC macs might be worthless or harmful for another Mac. Similarly - is this software or hardware that's being diagnosed? I worry that some great answers are going to be hard to find based on the vague wording in the question (also evidenced by the comment volume trying to understand what the bounds for this are).
    – bmike
    Mar 29, 2014 at 22:30

3 Answers 3


The likelihood that a single tool or utility will provide all of the diagnostic capabilities that you are looking for is very slim; if you do happen to find such a utility, there's a decent chance that its support for said capabilities will be shallow. So while it may seem like a good idea to try to find a really generalized and versatile hardware diagnostics app, you'll probably be better off with getting smaller more specialized apps that are designed to only check one to a few of your system's hardware components.

In addition, some hardware components such as your system's PSU (power supply unit) are best checked with specialized electrical equipment designed to check for faults in your PSU, such as your PSU is no longer capable of sustaining the level of Watts your system requires.

Hardware Health Diagnostic Applications

Hard-Disk/Solid-State Drive
  1. SMARTReporter
    • User Interface is kinda compact (feels a bit overwhelming with everything squished together).
    • $4.99
    • Available in the App Store.
  2. smartmontools
    • primarily command-line only, GUI depends on the X Server,but even if you do have XQuartz installed, GUI doesn't show up. (Check man page for usage details: man smartctl)
    • Free
    • Install via brew: brew install smartmontools
  3. DriveDx
    • Much nicer UI than SMARTReporter, feels much cleaner and less in your face.
    • Lots of statistics and info presented in a take your time kinda way.
    • $19.99
    • Available in the App Store.
Memory (RAM)

I couldn't find much in the App Store with a few quick searches, but I do know of a couple different RAM diagnostic utilities, however, all of them require the use of a USB or a floppy or some other media type that can be booted into; while I have experience with at least one of these, I have never used any of these under Mac OS X. So you're on your own.

  1. memtest86

    • Free and Premium versions available
    • Supports both Windows and Mac

      Check out passmark.com for other applications of a diagnostic/forensic nature

  2. memtest86+
    • Free (and open-source)
    • Based on the previously mentioned memtest86.
  3. memtester
    • A memory (RAM) stress-tester.
    • Free
    • install via brew: brew install memtester
    • see man page for more details: man memtester

Also, while this may sound super silly, I'd invest some time in checking the contents of your systems' logs, like tail /var/log/system.log, however, if I were you I'd check everything in /var/log just to make sure that you aren't missing anything.

In addition, be sure to run and check the output of sudo dmesg | less: in my experience, if your system is experiencing problems, there's a high likelihood that dmesg's output will shed light on the situation.

Mac OS X boot-time keyboard shortcuts (in no particular order):

  1. Hold down D during startup
    • Takes you to Apple's Hardware Test utility (or Apple Diagnostics, depending on Mac model)
    • Option+D can be used instead to try starting up Apple Hardware Test or Apple Diagnostics over the internet
  2. Hold down Alt+Cmd+P+R during startup
    • Clears the PRAM (parameter RAM) and NVRAM (non-volatile RAM): if either the PRAM or the NVRAM become corrupt, problems will ensue. Hold the keys down until your computer restarts: release the keys after you hear the second startup sound.
  3. Hold Alt down during startup
    • This will load the boot menu allowing you to boot to a different operating system partition you may have installed on your hard drive. May also allow you to boot to a USB, but that's just a conjecture.
  4. Hold down N during startup
    • if your setup includes a compatible network server (NetBoot), you can hold down the said key during boot to attempt a network boot. You can alternatively use the Alt+N keys during startup to start from a NetBoot server using the default boot image provided.
  5. Hold down T during startup
    • puts your Mac into Target Disk Mode, effectively turning your computer into a large removable flash drive. (Allows you to transfer files to and from your machine with... ease?)
  6. Hold down Shift during startup
    • Boot into safe mode. Very similar to Windows Safe Mode; a great way to troubleshoot OSX applications and extensions that aren't working properly.
  7. Hold down Cmd+V during startup
    • Boot into verbose mode. A terminal-like interface will appear while booting. It will contain information important to startup, allowing you to diagnose startup problems by seeing any errors that may be occurring during startup. Verbose mode exits automatically when your mac finishes booting.
  8. Hold down Cmd+S during startup
    • Boot into single user mode.
      NOTE A knowledge of bash and the command-line (in general) is recommended. Handy for advanced startup sequence troubleshooting.

Also, I'd check out Parted Magic and GParted, as well as any other distribution of Linux that offers a Live-disc version. These can be used to ease the diagnostics process since they're (at least Parted Magic and GParted) are designed with system maintenance in mind--not to mention the fact that you'll have access to a far larger software repository with any given Linux (that has a package manager) than you would with brew, for example.

  • these seem to be a great apps for readin your performance however i would like to know that everything works perfectly at a hardware level you've listed some great apps tho however! and thank you for that
    – Macmaniman
    Mar 28, 2014 at 0:42
  • @Macmaniman if you just want to make sure that everything is working as expected, I would check your system logs. Are you experiencing any hardware problems/issues in particular that you could, for example, describe? Or are you just looking for apps that could be used to find the source of said errors in the event that they were to occur? Mar 29, 2014 at 5:17
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    really more of a test to see if its operating correctly and Yup at full capacity!
    – Macmaniman
    Mar 30, 2014 at 18:43
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    @Macmaniman, k so I haven't edited my answer since yesterday, I believe, but the applications I now have listed: "those are the droids you're looking for"? Mar 30, 2014 at 20:27
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    i can see that and i really appreciate it, i would like to give a right answer just for effort, its a third party app, witch is perfect, but as far as i can see however, it only covers the hard drive and memory
    – Macmaniman
    Mar 31, 2014 at 12:29

You can access Apple Hardware Test or Apple Diagnostics by restarting the computer while holding down D

You mentioned Tech Tool Pro, which I haven't used for like a decade, but it was pretty good back then. I don't know of any software out there that is more comprehensive.

Other software you might try, but I don't think these really do what you want, they are more aimed at data recovery and file system verification:

Onyx - Free

Disk Warrior - Commercial

  • thank you however apple hardware test is not an option, perhaps i wasn't clear enough
    – Macmaniman
    Mar 28, 2014 at 0:39
  • Running an OpenGL game has been a good benchmark for me. Artifacts and framerate drops can reveal issues with your GPU. A frame of reference would be ideal, but if you're not a gamer, and weren't playing any games before your concern arose, you might be hard pressed to find an identical HW/SW setup to compare.
  • Various benchmarking apps out there, some with specifics to graphics processing, kinda like Geekbench. Then possibly comparing to similar systems on the web for specs, if there isn't a DB of results for your chosen app out there already. If it's way too far off the middle for your system, probably an issue, mb one specific to your card, maybe somewhere else (hangs, slowdowns, etc. can be caused by almost any component, the trick is to eliminate possibilities).

  • There could also be some manufacturer/model specific apps and/or firmware updates. Nvidia has many updates for its drivers that Apple doesn't always include with OS updates.

P.s. It helps sometimes to know what HW/SW setup you have for questions like this so helpers can be more specific on top of the general info.

Finally, as an anecdote, the vast (did I say vast?) majority of major Mac failures in my work have been GPU related. Do we blame Apple or Nvidia/ATI? I'd say both. Insert rant here.

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    hahah great answer thank you for that however as stated I'm more in a need of a Hardware diagnostic rather than a Benchmark test, i can see your logic behind it however its not what I'm looking for
    – Macmaniman
    Mar 27, 2014 at 10:25
  • try dwightk's suggestion of holding down "d" after reboot. This works with some models, but without knowing which you have, we can't tell you for sure. I think most ~2008+ have AHT built in. Apparently I wasn't coherent enough last night because it was supposed to be my first bullet… doh. Mar 27, 2014 at 17:13

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