iStat 3.0 at First Blush

iStat 3 app

Call me a process junkie. Call me a geek.

Why? Because I like to have access to nerdy stats about my computers. What sort of stats, you say? Stuff like CPU utilization, free hard drive space, processor temperatures, fan speed, network activity and the like. And iStat 3.0, from Bjango, does exactly that stuff (and more) for users running Macs.

I’ve been running some flavor of iStat on my computers for at least a few years now. It has always delivered on what it promised – easy access to nerdy stats presented in an attractive set of dropdown menubar items.

With versions 2 and prior, the program installed itself as a PrefPane, where individual stat preferences could be toggled on or off and customized. Prior versions of iStat were also donationware. (I recall tossing in a few bucks to the cause a few years back.)

With iStat 3, there are two significant changes worth noting:

  1. the program is now a stand-alone application, living in the Applications folder
  2. the program costs $10 for a limited time, after which it will run $15.

The ultimate question Mac users may have is: Is it worth the money?

Let’s take a look at a few of iStat 3’s features. As I mentioned earlier, iStat 3 is now an application.

iStat 3.0

From the main application, you can toggle the menus you want to monitor. You can also toggle the color of the skin: Aqua (gray) or Blaqua (black) as well as the color of the graphs (shown below).

The iStat menulets on the menubar provide at-a-glance information for each paramter. Clicking on an iStat menulet item will give detailed information pertaining to selected menulet. Below are a few screenshots.

Bandwidth and network monitoring:

iStat 3 screenshots

Memory Usage:

iStat 3 screenshots

overall CPU utilization, uptime, and processes:

iStat 3 screenshots

Hard drive usage for all attached drives, with instant access to Apple’s Disk Utility:

iStat 3 screenshots

A built-in calendar, date and time as well as a custom list of international time zones:

iStat 3 screenshots

Temperature sensor readings and fan speed:

iStat 3 screenshots

Battery usage:

iStat 3 screenshots

In my usage, iStat 3 is pretty slick.

I’ve read online about users griping about the price. Given the amount of time the developers at Bjango put into producing such a polished piece of software, I found the introductory $10 price to be acceptable. The regular price of $15, however, seems to be a little steep.

The best purchase value for iStat 3.0, in my opinion, is for users of multiple Macs. For $18, you can run iStat on up to 5 machines, bringing the unit cost per license down to $3.60. I chose this option for the 4 Macs we have at home.

The program works well, and I haven’t experienced any problems. As for value, that’s entirely up to whether you need such monitoring.

You could always go with the open source GeekTool, which offers similar functionality (albeit on the desktop, not via the menubar). The downside to GeekTool is that it’s not as pretty, and more importantly, your stats can be buried by windows and applications during normal usage.

You have 15 days to try out iStat 3.0 to see if it’s right for you. Minimum requirements are 10.5, and it works great on 10.6. The units I tested on were a Macbook Pro (2008), Mac Pro (2008) and a G5 Dual 2GHz (2003). Give iStat 3 a whirl, if you enjoy monitoring such nerdy things, like I do.

Happy geeking! :)

Krishna

These beautiful and intelligent people wrote

  • Klas Mattsson
    May 1, 2010 at 2:37 am

    Personally, I used:
    http://www.islayer.com/apps/istatpro/
    Pretty much the same functionality, but free and in a widget.

  • Klas
    May 1, 2010 at 2:59 am

    I personally use istat pro instead.
    http://www.islayer.com/apps/istatpro/

    1: I like that it’s a widget, makes it more easily accessible imo.
    2: It’s free, as in free beer (though they encourage tips).

  • krishna
    May 1, 2010 at 8:00 am

    Thanks for the info, Klas. I should have pointed out that iSlayer is now Bjango :) Yes, the iStat Pro widget is available for free. However, in my case, I have disabled the Dashboard on my Mac.

  • packeteer
    May 2, 2010 at 10:00 pm

    used previous versions, but was sick of the bugs, so I bought the new version as soon as it was released :)
    Also don’t like the dashboard much.