PC and console gaming differ in many aspects but one of the most important ones is the simple matter of convenience. Whereas console games are created specifically for the system they are supposed to run in and thus perform perfectly, it is simply impossible for PC developers to do the same because there is a huge range of vastly different computer configurations and no game can cater to every system. If you own an older PC, chances are you have to check the system requirements before buying a game because if it does not run in your system because of hardware restrictions, there is nothing you can do about it. Except for buying a new computer, of course, and that option is a scary one for the more tightly-budgeted amongst us.
Integrated graphics cards
Before we continue any further, I would like to point out that if you have a laptop with an integrated graphics card, it is doubtful you will be able to run any demanding games on it. On-board graphics cards are meant for operations other than gaming as you can easily tell by the abysmal performance they have on any given PC title. Modern chipsets can run less demanding games but even then, an integrated graphics card can only do so much for you.
Checking manually – PC specifications and system requirements
In order to check whether your PC meets a game’s system requirements or not, you must first know everything about your computer and what its insides are. Technically, you can find all the information you need by searching in various areas of Windows but instead of going through all that you should just download a portable utility like Speccy or HWiNFO (32-bit + 64-bit). After running either one of these two tools, you will be able to receive all the information you need in a single place.
What we are interested in are the CPU, GPU (graphics card) and RAM. Make a note of the numbers you see and you can then compare them against the system requirements of each game you want to play. System requirements can easily be found across the Internet, especially if you look around Steam or the website of a particular game. On Steam, the information can be found on the bottom of the page and there is a good chance that any given PC title can be found on Valve’s platform. When looking at system requirements, you will notice that there is a different set of Minimum and Recommended requirements. Your configuration must meet everything from the “Minimum” set, otherwise you may not even be able to launch the game, let alone play it.
Checking automatically – System Requirements Lab
The manual process, as it is outlined above, is a neat way of understanding more about your system and how it compares to modern standards of PC gaming but it is definitely not a convenient way of checking if your computer can run a game. Even when you learn your system’s specifications and how they compare to other systems by heart, manually checking each game can be very annoying which is probably the reason why System Requirements Lab and its ‘Can You Run It?’ website are still highly successful after all these years.
The website and its tools provide an automatic way of checking your system’s specifications versus a game’s minimum and recommended system requirements and you do not need to know anything about your PC in order to use it. The utility is supposed to make the process faster but it is also a godsend for those who just want to play games but lack the technical knowledge required to check their systems manually.
To start with, go to the My Computer Details page, click on the “View Computer Details” button and click on “Start” in the pop up that appears. This will allow you to download a desktop app that can detect your computer’s hardware, otherwise the website will require Java in order to do the same thing from your browser. Of course, you can follow the Java method if you would prefer but I am hoping you have disabled it by now. After checking your PC, the desktop app will send you to the website along with a cookie that contains your system’s information so you can check multiple games without running the app every time.
This method may not work in some computers as the app will gather the required information but will either be blocked from opening the website or will just close after failing to communicate with the page. Should that happen, go to the Can You Run It page, select a game to test and choose the Desktop app option from the list. Keep the webpage open, run the program and there should be no problems this time.
To check out any title, just select the game you want to test from the list and click on the “Can You Run It” button. Allow the process to finish and the website will tell you if your computer meets both the minimum and recommended requirements with a detailed breakdown on each section. You will also be provided with links to various other services and utilities such as driver updates though you can completely skip them.
It is also important to note that the automatic system is not always entirely accurate, especially as far as the recommended requirements go. Since you obviously invested in PC gaming already, it is a good idea to learn about your computer so that you can understand its strengths and limitations. The “Can You Run It” utility should serve as a starting point for further research on your own time and after a while, you will be able to know how your PC will run any game simply by glancing at its system requirements.
Check a game’s performance
To measure how well a game runs on any system, its Frames-Per-Second (FPS) is the first thing you should take a look at. Now that you can understand system requirements, you may also want to read our guide on checking the performance of your games with Fraps.