The Windows Resource
Determining Your Computer's Hardware
Obviously before you can go and buy a game (or any piece of software), you need to know what games will work, and what won't. This may seem quite daunting at first, but once you get the hang of it it will become second nature.
There are several ways to find out what hardware is in your machine. Using the DirectX Diagnostic Tool (follows below), the Device Manager (link) and Help and Support. The easiest way (for me haha!) is to tell you to look at the documentation that came with your machine. But well if I did that I wouldn't have anything to do would I?
So let's begin. For games the most important parts to consider are:
1) The processor (CPU).
The simplest way in my opinion to find out the most information quickly is to go to the DirectX Diagnostic Tool, DirectX is a component of Windows that basically simplifies how software accesses the hardware.
1) Click Start.
This will open up the DirectX Diagnostic Tool window which is what we're after.
Here we can see two things we're after. The processor (CPU), in this case an 'AMD Athlon 64 3200+' the amount of memory (RAM) '1024 MB'.
I've also marked down the version of DirectX in the machine as well, it's good practice to make sure you're using the latest version that can be downloaded from http://www.microsoft.com/windows/directx/ most games ship with the minimum version of DirectX they require on the CD/DVD.
If we then click on the Display tab at the top we can move onto the next bits of information we're after.
Here we can see the installed video card 'Radeon 9800 Pro' it's manufacturer 'ATI' and the amount of memory on the card '128 MB'.
We're pretty much done here, so let's click the Sound tab and move onto the next page.
Here we can see a 'SB (SoundBlaster) Audigy' sound card.
OK we're done with the DirectX Diagnostic Tool, we've just got one last thing to find out, the amount of free disk space we've got on the computer.
To do this click on My Computer (in the Start Menu). You'll be presented with a window similar to this one below.
1) Right-click on your Hard Disk
Drive, usually C: but you may have others too.
The drive's property box will then pop up.
There we go, the used space, and free space and the total space, the important part here is the free space, showing '36.5 GB'. Unlike the rest (well unless you upgrade) the free space will change. A modern game can sometimes take up to 6GB of space, so you'll need to check often if you install a lot of software.
So after all that we've determined the main specifications of the computer which are:
1) AMD Athlon 64 3200+ processor
We're now ready to take these to a shop and compare them with the requirements on games!
I'll talk about the Device Manager, although it doesn't show things like video RAM like the DirectX Diagnostic Tool, it does pretty much show everything connected to your machine from mice to monitors and their driver versions, and lots of other bits and bobs.
To access the Device Manager (it's also available through System in the Control Panel):
1) Click Start.
This will bring up the System Properties window (note the CPU and RAM are displayed here too).
1) Click the Hardware tab.
1) Click Device Manager, this will
bring up the Device Manager window.
With this tool you can determine if hardware is not functioning or failed to initialise correctly (they would be marked with an '!' exclamation mark). You can also determine driver version and other information by right-clicking and then clicking on Properties on the individual pieces of hardware.
Last updated 19th of April 2005.
Copyright Paul Smith 2004-2008.
All information on these pages is donated "AS IS" with no warranties and confers no rights.
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