iStat Menus 4
I often mention iStat Menus by Bjango here on MacStories: it is, in fact, one of my must-have apps for Mac. I have been using version 3.0 for years: iStat Menus 3 provided a complete, yet user-friendly and accessible way to keep an eye on your Mac's hardware (CPU, fans, GPU, RAM, and so on) and other data (network, time zones, battery status) with a series of dropdown menubar windows.
Bjango has now come out with iStat Menus 4, and the new version has some interesting and, for me, welcome changes. Aside from the usual bug fixes, Retina support and better Mountain Lion compatibility, iStat Menus 4 introduces a refreshed look that brings consistency with Bjango's other iStat app, iStat 2. iStat Menus now features the same style for graphs and charts as iStat 2, and, even better, it comes with the same History menu to view a component's performance over time. For instance, you can mouse over the CPU's main graph and check out a second menu with History for the past hour, 24 hours, and 7 days. There are more time-related view options available, and there's more to customize in the app's Preferences (which have also been redesigned, and it took me a while to get used to them at first). I appreciate the consistency with iStat 2, and I like History because it lets me easily check my network's conditions over time.
There are several new features in iStat Menus 4, but I'd like to mention the ones I personally use. The Network widget has a new per-process section to quickly see which process is consuming bandwidth (think a mini version of Little Snitch); the Time widget still supports different time zones (I use this on a daily basis), but it's now cleaner and it has support for calendar events to get a quick summary of what you need to do on a specific day. It's no Fantastical, but it's a nice and unobtrusive addition.
I'm sure there are more powerful ways to check on the status of a Mac's hardware components and processes. But I just need to see "what's going on", and in that regard iStat Menus 4 fits perfectly with my needs. iStat Menus is $16 on Bjango's website.