In order to avoid the endless disappointment of your PC being unable to run the latest game you’ve been itching to play, it’s essential to always check if you meet the system requirements before-hand.
Game developers will often put a section either on the Steam page, their own website, or somewhere similar, that will describe the minimum as well as the recommended system requirements.
Before diving into the topic, we need to clarify why both these requirements are even listed in the first place and which one is needed for what.
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What Is Needed For What?
A lot of requirements are mentioned just in case, like the need to have a sound card or a DVD drive, which are certainly inside your PC. In the old days of PC gaming, however, these specs weren’t as common, so it was necessary to add them to the requirements section.
With the technology world moving at an increasingly faster rate, these requirements are likely to change more and more.
While an OS requirement may seem silly, it’s important to highlight that only about 50% of PC users worldwide use Windows 10. Others use Windows 7 or 8 or a macOS and even Linux. Moreover, some of these aren’t even using a 64-bit version of their OS, which is actually a key requirement for most modern games.
While hard drive capacity might also seem irrelevant, as modern PCs are running at terabytes of available storage, it’s always good to check if you need to clear a few things off your computer before installing your new game.
Sure, a lot of installation wizards nowadays just run a simple check to ensure there’s enough available storage before starting the process, but you still don’t want to risk it and get stuck mid-way through the installation, with all files rolled back due to a lack of space.
RAM requirement is important, but it depends on the game you’re playing. Obviously, the more resource-intensive the game you’re playing is, the more RAM you’re going to need. This applies to pretty much everything else.
RAM is especially useful in simulation games. In these games, those extra computations will be directed to the CPU, which will then turn to RAM for assistance to communicate data back and forth more quickly.
An important note about RAM: while you may be tempted to purchase the fastest Random Access Memory out there, you should know that the relation between price and overall performance improvement isn’t that great. If you’re on a tight budget, you’ll be forgiven if you stick to a lower clock RAM, as long as the capacity meets the requirements.
And now let the trouble begin, because the next two requirements are oftentimes the most confusing ones.
Usually, the game developer will write down a certain model of CPU as the requirement, as well as the core number and clock speed. The reason why both cores and speed, as well as a given model, are put down is to avoid confusion. It might not really help that much, but hey, at least they tried.
The number of cores is actually quite useful, although not all games fully take advantage of multiple cores. Most modern games will require at least 4 cores. However, as time goes by, we’ll likely see an increase there as well.
The clock speed is necessary because if your PC can’t work on data at a certain speed, then the game itself won’t be able to run at all. This occurs because the game speed (and sometimes other stuff like random events) is often directly linked to the amount of new data that is available to it.
If you’re experiencing stuttering in games, you might find that the CPU is the bottleneck. In that case, the GPU will render enough frames, but the game won’t be requesting new frames; it will be stuck, waiting on the CPU to process all the necessary data.
The reason behind a certain model of CPU being on the list is because the game development company tested the game on that exact model, so they can guarantee that that combination works. You should check your system’s specifications and compare your CPU model’s exact numbers to those of the given processor.
Luckily, the GPU is a little easier to understand. The same argument as before applies here as well – compare your GPU’s specs to those of the card recommended by the game maker. The actual model is irrelevant, but they will usually post both Nvidia and AMD cards, so it’s best to compare it with the appropriate card maker.
Of course, it’s important that you have a proper VRAM for the necessary GPU. One gigabyte of GDDR4 is not the same as one gigabyte of GDDR6.
Another crucial aspect is the DirectX compatibility. Although most modern graphics cards will be able to run DX12, some older ones might struggle, so you want to take that into consideration. Fortunately, DX11 is usually the base requirement and it has much bigger support.
Minimum System Requirements
This is the place where you want to look if you’re okay with lower image quality and lower FPS. The exact specifications in this section have been tested by the game developer, and the game will technically work if your rig meets the minimum requirements.
However, this doesn’t mean much. It’s basically the developer saying that the game won’t crash on start. If your PC barely meets the requirements, you will be able to run the game, but it can be as low as 1-2 FPS at the lowest settings. Although the game is technically running, its’ nowhere near playable.
Of course, the minimum system requirements aren’t as bleak as they sound and there are exceptions to the rule. The good news is that the minimum requirements are more and more playable nowadays.
Recommended System Requirements
So, what are recommended requirements then?
It seems we have to sound bleak again, but the recommended requirements are technically what you’ll need to get the game running at 30 FPS at the lowest settings. The companies test at what configuration they can get this going and list it.
As with the minimum system requirements, the recommended configuration is slowly becoming a much better standard. With the whole gaming world set out to game at least at 60 FPS, we’ll likely be getting recommended requirements that are necessary to play at 60 FPS anytime soon.
How To Check Your System’s Configuration
It’s natural that even if you’ve very carefully planned and built your PC, you still forget what exactly is in there, at what Hertz it’s running and at what overall capacity, so don’t sweat it if you’re looking to learn the exact configuration.
If you’re on Windows 10, you can get a rudimentary overview by simply right-clicking ‘This PC’ and choosing ‘Properties’. There, you’ll see the information about the CPU and RAM. You can get a little bit more info if you click on ‘Device Manager’ on the left-hand side.
Of course, the recommended option is to get a dedicated software that lists all the minute details about your machine. There are plenty of good apps for this out there and many of them are free. The easiest one to install and use would be something like CPU-Z which, despite its name, can give you info about everything you need.
Now that you know your PC’s abilities, you can go to a website like game-debate.com and check if you meet the requirements, be it minimum or recommended.
The best option is by far a website called ‘Can You Run It’. Their process isn’t exactly intuitive, so we’ll take you step-by-step.
- Go to the System Requirements Lab website
- Type in the name of the game you want to run in the search bar
- Click the ‘Can You Run It’ button. You will be directed to a page where an automatic download will start. Don’t worry, it won’t harm your PC.
- Once the download is finished, run the ‘Detection’ program you’ve just downloaded and wait.
- After a few moments, the software will detect your system’s components and exit automatically.
- Then, you can switch the windows back to your browser and you will be informed if your PC meets either the minimum system requirements or the recommended ones.
- (Optional) From this point, you can browse the website for more functions. Simply click on any game and it will tell you if you can run it. They will also tell you precisely what needs an upgrade.