When I get into coding or consulting or gaming, all my screen real estate is being used, and sometimes I just want to quickly know how my system is being utilized (often wondering why it's running slow). I could monkey around with an on-screen display or, obviously, open the task manager or resource monitor. But I've decided to hook up a small (4x40 character) external LCD display which I have had around for years and push some PC vitals to it.
This tool review is for AIDA64 Extreme, a trialware system information program that costs $40 and integrates well with external LCD displays like mine.
What this tool does is much like Speccy and CPU-Z. What drew me to it, however, was its extensive set of external LCD display options.
The model that I have is an Pertelian x2040. I think the company went out of business, and although the LCD Smartie open source project looked promising to be able to interact with it, the driver doesn't render the text properly. Apparently there is also a fix for this but I don't have the kind of development chops to make the fix happen.
Anyhoo, AIDA64 writes nicely to it. Now at a glance if I'm in a game or full screen in a Virtual Machine, I can see how the host computer is doing.
The middle percentage is the GPU fan percentage, but either my fan is never on, or that value doesn't work.
You can download the config file I'm using here.
Don't have an old school external LCD screen? you can run the monitor on any external tablet or phone using the RemoteSensor option, which basically starts a web server and hosts an streaming HTML page with graphs and whatnot (awesome!)
One UI gotcha on the desktop app is in order to hide the main UI (and deselect the icon in the task bar), you have to right click on the tray icon and choose "Hide Window". It also needs to run as administrator (I believe this is needed to get some of the temperatures).
Update: You can configure both minimize and close to just shut down the main window and stay open in the tray. You can also configure the splash screen to not show up and the app to start with Windows. All that basically makes it run like a Windows Service. Which makes the Windows developer in me think, why couldn't this be a Windows Service?