In order for any article of equipment to work it needs to have certain requirements met. For instance, most articles of apparatus need electricity, but there are other, more delicate devices that have more specific requirements. Computer programs are a decent instance of these. All computer programs require a minimum amount of memory and a definite minimum speed processor to run in.
Computer games are just computer programs, albeit very specialized ones and they have very specific requirements too. Computer games generally need speed, which means plenty of processing power to read the game/program itself and read the instructions from peripherals such as the gaming console.
Therefore, in order to play the faster games, you really need a high spec machine – a much faster machine than you need to run an office and you can browse the Internet on a computer that is ten years old.
Another factor in the gaming industry is that the games designers all use the latest and greatest apparatus on the market in order create and test their concepts. Therefore, the end user will have to use similar equipment in order to get the most from their games.
The minimum requirements for playing a game are normally written on the box. Pay attention to the minimum speed of processor; minimum graphics card; minimum RAM; minimum monitor resolution.
The CPU or processor’s speed is usually the stumbling block for gamers. A computer is soon out of date. You can usually upgrade the processor for two or three years, but after that you may need a new motherboard or even a new computer. Units of speed are measured in MHz and GHz (1,000 MHz is equal to 1 GHz). An office computer will gladly run most office applications at 2 GHz – 2.5GHz, but you will need 3+ GHz to run most games.
RAM is also terribly important for games because this is the area within a computer that holds the information that has to be processed most frequently or just next. Everything else gets written to disk even if it is only for a few seconds. Therefore, the larger the RAM, the less writing to and reading from disk, which takes comparatively a great deal more time. Office machines are happy with 2 GB, games machines may need 3-4 GB. Four or five years ago, most people were glad with 500 MB or even 1,000 MB (or 1 GB).
Video RAM (VRAM) used to get borrowed from RAM, which was a bit of a con, really. These days, high-spec machines have their own VRAM. Have as much as you can, but minimum 500-1,000 MB. VRAM is used by the video card to manage the graphics.
Hard Disk capacity used to be a concern but hardly ever is these days. Games are usually loaded from a CD drive or a flash card, but you need a minimum amount of free HD space to save back and forth to (see RAM above). One note here though, if you are buying a new HD or CD drive, go for the fastest you can afford, but most of them are good enough nowadays. The same with monitors.
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