An eye on graphics
Unlike general system gadgets, GPU Monitor cares about just one thing: your graphics processing unit and how well it is running. A fount of information about your system's graphics and video, this gadget can help pinpoint problems whether you have a budget PC with integrated graphics or a high-end system with a discrete GPU.
In addition to showing which accelerator chip your system uses and key stats such as video memory used and graphics processor load, GPU Monitor shows the chip's and graphics board's temperatures. You can have the gadget warn you with an audio alarm if the graphics subsystem starts overheating, although it can't initiate a system shutdown to prevent damage.
For those experiencing intermittent problems with video, GPU Monitor can keep a log file containing info on any of five main graphics parameters, such GPU temperature and if the fan is on, along with time stamps to help troubleshoot the issue.
GPU Monitor presents a lot of data and can seem crowded, but you can customize it by limiting the types of data it shows, showing data in separate graphs or a single one, and changing the gadget's size and color combination.
Note: Some users with integrated graphics systems might need to load the RivaTuner software, which collects the data that GPU Monitor shows. It's free, and you can download it from within the gadget.
Download GPU Monitor (1.2MB)
Firewall status check
Windows Firewall Profile
Buried inside the Windows Firewall settings page (accessible via the Control Panel) is the ability to set your firewall profile as Public (for unsecure networks, like café hot spots) or Private (for your secure home or business network). Each profile involves a different mixture of which incoming connections are allowed or blocked.
When connecting a laptop from the road, many travelers move around between secure private connections and public hot spots several times a day. But changing your computer's firewall settings for public or private connections each time you switch networks is a tedious task, and one that's easy to forget. The Windows Firewall Profile gadget assures you that you've made the change properly.
One of the most basic gadgets around, Windows Firewall Profile doesn't actually help you change your profile setting; it just shows you the current status (Private or Public) in a small black rectangle. Its size can't be adjusted, and there isn't much to configure either, aside from how frequently the system's firewall status is checked (from 10 seconds to 5 minutes).
But what this gadget does, it does well. It immediately figured out when I changed my firewall profile from Private to Public settings and back again during a busy road trip.
Ideally, the gadget would provide a way to adjust the firewall settings or at least link to the firewall settings dialog. All the same, it's reassuring to see what the firewall status is at a glance, without having to wade into the system settings to check.
Download Windows Firewall Profile (119KB)