How To Check If A Computer Can Run A Game

If you play computer games, we’re willing to bet that you’ve asked this question at least once, if not more:

Will <insert game title here> run on my computer?  or  otherwise, What games can my computer run?

We get these kind of  questions all the time, so we thought we’d teach you how to work this out for yourself; no matter what the game or the computer.

How Can You Tell If Your PC Will Run A Particular Game?

In this post we’ll teach you why the answer to this question can be a little hazy, and also how to work this out for yourself.

Can I Run <Game Title>?  – The Short Answer

To evaluate if a computer can run a game, we do two basic things:

  1. Check the minimum or recommended hardware requirements of the game (this is usually published by the game manufacturer)
  2. Work out what computer hardware you have
  3. Compare (1) against (2) and make sure the specifications of  (2) is better

If your computer’s hardware specifications are better than the minimum or recommended hardware that the game manufacturer recommends, then generally this means that you’ll be able to run the game well.

Can I Automate the Process?

Yes – there are third-party tools out there like Game Debate, and Can I Run It? which can be used to get a quick snapshot of how your computer might run a particular game, but keep in mind when running these tools that they are still just a ‘best guess’ and shouldn’t be taken as gospel.

Can I Run It? – Automatically finds your current computer’s hardware and tells you if you can run a certain game

Game Debate – Allows you to check any specified hardware against your nominated game title, and spits out a summary at the end

Can I Run <Game Title>?  – The Long Answer

Although we essentially evaluate if a computer can run a game well by using the basic steps above, there’s a few extra things you should know:

1. It is usually just a “Best Guess”

You can never really know for certain if a particular game will run well or not; usually we can only  get an estimate or feel for this. While it can be good to research before buying a new computer or game to make sure things will run smoothly, after working out what you think the only way to actually know for sure is to test it out in practice by actually running the game on the particular computer to see how it goes.

2. There is no real standard for “Run Well”

While you can easily check if your computer meets the minimum or recommended specifications for running a particular game, this doesn’t tell you a lot of detail about how it will run. If you actually do this check, you’ll notice that one thing that’s not specified by the manufacturer is the gameplay settings that they’re expecting you to have. So maybe it will run okay on a computer if you have the worst settings, but how do you define a vague phrase like ‘run okay’ anyway? What is considered to run well for one person, may be not good enough for another.

That’s also why there is no real ‘black and white’/ ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer to the question “Will my computer run this game well?”. Instead, you can expect a varying degree of grey, and vague answers like ‘it depends’. This is because of the subjective nature of users, as well as the following points.

3. Your Overall Gameplay Experience is determined by Multiple Hardware Parts.

Game performance doesn’t depend on just any one piece of computer hardware, it is how the combination of parts work together (i.e. just because you have a top end graphics card doesn’t mean you’ll definitely have a great experience. Gameplay experience also depends on how the different parts of your computer hardware work together – this means you should also consider things like your CPU, RAM, storage drives and power supply in addition to your graphics card)

4. Game performance can depend heavily on your chosen gameplay settings.

We eluded to this earlier, but in some cases it’s very possible to run a more demanding game on a low-end computer, if you are willing to sacrifice on the graphical quality. Some settings can have a huge influence on reducing the amount of graphics processing required, and this in turn can lead to smoother gameplay. We plan to write more about this in the future, so stay tuned for that post, but in summary – things like lowering your resolution, turning off anti-aliasing and setting texture details to low can significantly reduce the demand on your graphics processor and result in a smoother gaming experience.

This is why some people may still be able to run a game even though their computer does not meet the minimum or recommended specifications for a game – sometimes it can be because they’ve turned down all the gameplay settings to minimum and also optimized their computer to run the game as best as possible.

Step 1: How To Look Up Minimum or Recommended Requirements For Games

First step is to look up the minimum hardware requirements that the game manufacturer has chosen for the particular game title you’re interested in.

To do this, simply do a google search for

<game title> minimum requirement

When choosing from the results, try to find one that is from a reputable source – which is ideally the game manufacturer themselves. Keep in mind that a lot of third-party websites can copy and post the minimum requirements on their own pages, and there have been some cases we’ve seen where the information has been incorrectly copied across.

We’ve also listed a bunch of popular titles with links to their minimum and/or recommended hardware requirements below:

System Requirements for Popular Game Titles

Battlefield 4 Minimum and Recommended Requirements

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Minimum Requirements

Dota 2 Minimum Requirements

Fallout 4 Minimum and Recommended Requirements

Garry’s Mod Minimum and Recommended Requirements

Grand Theft Auto V Minimum and Recommended Requirements

Minecraft Minimum and Recommended Requirements

Overwatch Minimum and Recommended Requirements

Source Filmmaker Minimum Requirements

Team Fortress 2 Minimum and Recommended Requirements

Terraria Minimum and Recommended Requirements

The Escapist 2 Minimum and Recommended Requirements

The Witcher 3 Minimum and Recommended Requirements

What’s the Difference Between Minimum and Recommended Specs?

Typically – but there’s no standard that we’ve seen for this – game manufacturers will list the minimum requirements as the minimum hardware specifications you will need to be able to run and play the game, usually on low settings. This doesn’t necessarily mean you will experience good/smooth gameplay.

The recommended requirements should allow you to play the game on medium to high settings while still maintaining a good gameplay experience.

It’s worth noting though, that every game developer has their own way of coming up with their minimum and recommended hardware recommendations list, so it’s really just a guideline for users.

If you fall short of the minimum recommended requirements, that doesn’t necessarily mean the game won’t run, but it’s highly likely that you won’t have a good gameplay experience, and you’ll definitely have to run it with all settings down low.

Step 2: Find Out Your Own Computer Hardware Specs

Next, you’ll need to work out what hardware your computer has.

If you are looking at buying a new computer and want to know if it can run a particular game, then obviously use this computer’s specifications for this exercises.

The main hardware items you want to know about are:

  • Graphics card
  • CPU
  • RAM
  • Sometimes storage

For a computer to run a game well, you’ll often need to meet a minimum requirement for the most important pieces of hardware (typically your graphics processor, CPU, and RAM).  Sometimes storage space will be specified by game manufacturers too – this typically refers to the amount of free space you’ll need on your storage drive for the install files of the game. Other components like your motherboard and power supply are not often specified because typically they are not limiting factors.

How Your Gameplay is Affected By Your Computer Hardware

If you’re new to computers, you may not know how exactly each component affects gaming. Here’s a brief list explaining which parts do what:

Graphics Card (or on-board graphics processor if you don’t have a dedicated card)

Directly handles the processing and rendering of images. Pretty much anything that is displayed on your screen/display monitor comes directly from your graphics processor.

Central Processing Unit (CPU)

Handles most of the actual gameplay when you are playing games such as running and loading the game, as well as processing user input and passing output to the graphics card for display.

Memory, or RAM

Holds frequently-used information for quick access by the CPU, which allows for faster CPU operations in general.

Storage or drives

Your hard drive or solid state drive is where the actual game files live, and these are what are accessed by the CPU when you actually run the game. If you happen to be playing off a game CD/DVD/Bluray disc (does this even happen anymore?) then the disc is referred to instead of (or in combination with) storage drives.

Motherboard

Connects all the hardware components together and allows them to pass information between each other.

Power Supply

Keeps all of your hardware components running by supplying them with enough power to do their functions.

 

Checking What Hardware Your Computer Has

The instructions below are for Windows 10 users. To anyone else… sorry! Google is your friend here so just do a quick search on how to find out your graphics card or CPU and RAM specifications.

Graphics Card

If you are running Windows 10, you can follow this video to work out what graphics card you have installed.

Basically, right click on the desktop, go to Display Settings, and click on Display Adapter Properties.

Alternatively, open up Device Manager, and check out the details listed under Display Adapters.

CPU and RAM

Right click on your windows status bar, and go to Task Manager, then click on the Performance tab. Then check your specs listed under CPU and Memory.

There are 3 other alternative ways to check the same information, which are covered in the video below.

Step 3: Comparing

It’s easy enough to compare some specs, but others are not so obvious. Here’s how we do it:

  • Graphics card : Using a benchmark tool CPUbenchmark
  • CPU: Using a benchmark tool CPUbenchmark
  • RAM: Simply compare the numbers
  • Sometimes storage: Simply compare the numbers

A benchmark is a way of comparing two things. Each is assigned a different score, and then you can compare the numbers to determine which one performs better.

CPUbenchmark has benchmark scores for both graphics cards and CPUs, and its easy to compare up to three parts against each other.

Here, we’ll walk though an example to compare the CyberpowerPC GUA3100A to see if it can play the game Battlefield 4.

After doing steps 1  and 2, we get the following items that we need to compare:

Component CyberpowerPC GUA3100A Battlefield 4 Minimum Requirements Battlefield 4 Recommended Requirements
Graphics card AMD Radeon R7 240 AMD Radeon 3870 or higher; NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GT or higher AMD Radeon 7870 or higher; NVIDIA GeForce GT 660 or higher
CPU AMD FX-4300 quad core 3.8 GHz with 4.0GHz turbo boost AMD Athlon X2 2.8 GHZ or Intel Core 2 Duo 2.4 GHZ AMD Six-Core CPU; Intel Quad-Core CPU
Memory 8 GB 4GB or more 8GB
Storage 1 TB 30GB 30GB
Operating System Windows 10 Windows Vista 32-Bit with SP2 and updates Window 8 64-bit
Other 2 GB graphics memory (this is integrated with your graphics card) 3 GB graphics memory  (this is integrated with your graphics card)

We need to check that every item in the GUA3100A column is at least equal to, or better than those in the Battelfield 4 Minimum and Recommended Requirement Columns.

How to see if your graphics card is better than the minimum/recommended required

We use CPUbenchmark’s video card benchmark page to look up each graphics card that we want to compare. Despite the name, it has benchmarks  for video/graphics cards as well.

In this case, we’ll compare the AMD Radeon R7 240 (GUA3100A), the AMD Radeon 3870 (BF4 Minimum) and the AMD Radeon 7870 (BF4 Recommended). If you wanted to, you could also check out the NVIDIA options, but usually these perform on a similar level to the AMD ones shown, so you only need to pick one or the other.

We go to the “Search for your video card” link, and enter in the above 3 cards, clicking “Compare” next to each one to add it to your “Compare List”. A simple Ctrl+F ‘find’ can help you quickly find the model number of the graphics card you’re interested in.

Once you’ve added all of the cards to the compare list (you can compare a maximum of 3 items at once), then hit “Compare” on the Compare List floating box.

You’ll be presented with a graph, which shows the overall benchmark scores for each product.

In this case here, we’re interested in the top graph for “G3D Mark Rating” which represents each item’s graphical processing power.  We can see the R7 240 of the GUA3100A is better than the minimum requirement card for Battlefield 4, but it’s not as good as the Radeon 7870 which is the recommended graphics card for Battlefield 4.

We also noticed that the recommended requirements for BF4 listed 3GB of graphics memory, but the GUA3100A only has 2GB. Graphics memory is in-built into your graphics card and therefore determined by whatever graphics card you have. There’s nothing specified for the minimum requirement on graphics memory though, so we meet this just fine with the R7 240 card.

How to see if your CPU is better than the minimum/recommended required

We’ll basically use the same technique as we did for the graphics card to compare CPUs.

In this case, we’ll compare the AMD FX-4300 (GUA3100A), the AMD Athlon X2 (BF4 Minimum) and AMD Six-core CPU (BF4 Recommended).

This time, we’ll search CPUbenchmark’s  CPU list.

A number of different Athlon X2 options came up, so we decided to arbitrarily choose the highest scored one (you can see this in the 2nd column) to lean towards a worst-case scenario. It’s not clear which exact model of Athlon X2 the game manufacturer meant, but we’ll still get an idea with this analysis method.

 

And then like before, we click on the “Compare” button for our Compare List to get the final results:

Again, its the top graph we’re interested in here. And we can see that the FX-4300 in the GUA3100A is better than the minimum requirement specified, but it falls short of the recommended requirement.

Overall Conclusions for the example of if the CyberpowerPC GUA3100A will run Battlefield 4 well:

The GUA3100A meets the minimum hardware requirements of the game for both the graphics card and processor, but falls short of the recommended requirements. This probably means that while the game will run OK on certain settings, you won’t be able to max out the graphics settings and still expect to have smooth gameplay.

We also are OK in terms of RAM and storage (provided you have 30GB of free hard-drive space). Operating system is also a quick easy check, which we meet in this example.

Finally: The Best Way to Know if a Computer Can Run a Game Well…

… is to test it in real life. Okay, so we know this isn’t always feasible, but another method which can sometimes also work is to search youtube for gameplay (sometimes people upload videos of their framerate as well as their computer specifications, so occasionally you can get lucky and someone will have the same processor and graphics card as you).

The bottom line is to do your research and check the minimum and recommended requirements of games against your own computer hardware, but once you’ve satisfied yourself that you’re within the right range of these, then leave the rest to playing around with gameplay settings in real life.

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