Computer Specs

Explanation of PC Specifications

Most college students know at least the basics of computer specs, but I thought I should write up a little guide on what the important ones are, and how to find out what you currently have.

In all its entirety, a laptop or desktop will base its speed and performance on three major hardware specifications and its operating system, which I'll explain below...

How to Find Your Computer Specs

To find the specs that I want you to check out, right-click on either my computer or computer (depending on which operating system you're running), and then click properties. You should be able to find 'computer' in your start menu.

In the window that opens, you will see which operating system your running and what service pack is installed, your processor and its speed, and your installed memory (RAM).

Your graphics or video card information can be found by right-clicking the desktop, then selecting graphics properties.

Operating Systems

If you don't have at least Windows XP, Vista, or 7 right now, you're typing on a dinosaur (or you have a Mac ;).

An operating system is basically a collection of files and computer services that allow you (the user) to interact with whatever software you're working with (Internet browser, word processor, solitaire, etc.).

Either of the 3 operating systems listed above is good for college students. Many colleges still use operating systems as far back as Windows XP, because it's simple and has little technical problems. If you're using something older than that however, it's time to upgrade.

Computer Specs - RAM

Random Access Memory (RAM) is a key piece (or pieces) of hardware that determines how fast your computer runs. RAM is the simplest thing to upgrade. If your computer is running slow, you might want to consider adding more RAM. As for a student computer, you should have at the very least this much RAM for the following operating systems:

Windows XP: 1 GB (Gigabyte)
Windows Vista: 4 GB
Windows 7: 2 GB

Upgrading RAM for a desktop computer is usually a piece of cake, Youtube it for video instructions. Laptop RAM on the other hand is a bit more tricky, you might want a PC shop upgrade it for you.

Computer Specs - Processor

Processors....process. The main functioning piece inside of a computer. Along with RAM, it's one of the primary pieces of hardware that determines how fast your computer runs.

If you're seeking to buy a used computer, don't even look at anything over 4 years old. Processor technology changes so fast that these things become obsolete and slow very quickly. Upgrading really isn't an option either, so you're better off buying a newer computer instead.

Computer Specs - Video Card

If you just need a solid computer for note-taking and Internet surfing for school purposes, video cards aren't all that important; you should care less about them, really. However, if you're signed up for classes that involve graphical software, or you're an avid gamer (like me), then you probably want to spring for a better graphics card.

The video card works with your RAM and processor to present graphics to the monitor. This is another piece of software that quickly gets outdated and obsolete, but isn't as expensive or hard to upgrade as a processor. With that said though, they can get a bit on the expensive side.

System Requirements

I wrote this article to try and give college students seeking to buy a PC some quick knowledge about computer specs. It's hard to cater to everyone's needs and tell them which computer would be the best for them to buy, so I'll list some popular college software requirements and games that students use on a regular basis in the hopes that you get a feel for what you need for college.

This list is sorted by least to most hardware intensive.

- General Math Software --
Operating System: XP, Vista, Windows 7
Processor: 300 MHz
RAM: 512 MB
Graphics Requirements: Almost Any

-- Microsoft Word (Microsoft Office) 2010 --
Operating System: XP, Vista, Windows 7
Processor: 500 MHz
RAM: 512 MB
Graphics Requirements: 64 MB, DirectX 9.0c compatible

-- Watching DVDs in HD --
Operating System: XP, Vista, Windows 7
Processor: 2.2 GHz or ANY dual core
RAM: 512 MB (at least 1 GB preferred)
Graphics Requirements: 256 MB with HDCP (also need a monitor that supports HD)

-- VM Ware/Microsoft Virtual PC --
Operating System: XP, Vista, Windows 7
Processor: 2.2 GHz or ANY dual core
RAM: 2 GB (any more than 2 OS running, the more the better)
Graphics Requirements: Pretty much anything, unless running intensive graphics inside virtual machine

-- Adobe Suites --
Operating System: XP, Vista, Windows 7
Processor: Any dual or multicore processor may suffice, the more the better
Graphics Requirements: 512 VRAM ,open GL

-- World of Warcraft --
Operating System: XP, Vista, Windows 7
Processor: 2.2 GHz, dual core or higher recommended
RAM: 2 GB RAM recommended (4 GB for Vista machines)
Graphics Requirements: at least 512 MB, preferably 1 GB

-- Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 --
Operating System: XP, Vista, Windows 7
Processor: 2.4 GHz dual core
RAM: 4 GB recommended
Graphics Requirements: nVidea GeForce 7800 / ATI Radeon X1800 / or better Shader 3.0 video card

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