SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS

Over time PC games have held a leadership role over gaming consoles. It is still its helpful to be aware of the generations of consoles which give a rough guide to the minimum system requirements for the period.

Generally PC processors have been much faster than consoles which have more constrained power limitations. PC memory is the weakest part as most do not realize additional memory can improve overall performance. Today, an 8-core processor is adequate to handle contemporary gaming.

Graphics cards are widely available that are dramatically more powerful than any console. Graphics card vendors have long competed with who can design the most powerful cards.

A good rule of thumb for system memory is 8GB plus 2x the amount of VRAM on the video card. VRAM is shadowed in main memory so extra memory is needed for the buffer. An 8GB to 12GB video card is best with 32GB of main memory. Dual cards need proportionally more memory.

GENERATION 9

Operating System Windows 10 x64 or better
CPU AMD RX 1850 processor or better
Memory 32 GB or more
Hard Drive Space 50 GB
Graphics Hardware DX12:  GTX 1080 Ti CFX / Vega64 CFX
Network Broadband Internet Connection Required

The Xbox One S and PS4 Pro bump the screen resolution to 3820×2160 for UHD televisions.

This will push the video card required to about 6 -8 TFLOPS or more in order to play games at this extreme resolution.

The GTX 1070 and RX580 are both hard pressed to play games at UHD resolutions. Newer cards like the Vega64 and the GeForce 1080 Ti are better capable but still lack the required resources to play all games at 60 fps.

Next generation cards may need SLI or CFS to be able to provide the processing power needed. The trend in games for using more demanding shaders makes it hard to scale without vast numbers of shader cores.

DX12 with its explicit multiple graphics cards will make it easier to handle extremely demanding games at 3820×2160. Game engines need to be designed for supporting dual video cards.

GENERATION 8

Operating System Windows 7 x64 or better
CPU Core i5-6500 processor or better
Memory 8 GB or more
Hard Drive Space 25 GB
Graphics Hardware DX11: GTX 660 / HD 7850
Network Broadband Internet Connection Required

The 8the generastion bump the screen resolution to 1920×1080.

  • PS4
  • Xbox One
  • Nintendo Wii

iOS gaming continues to dominate the handheld market. Android gaming has remained a distant second.

The consoles use X8 processors but they run at 1.6 GHz and do not have L3 cache unlike PC processors which have long had L3 cache memory to boost performance. DirectX 11 video cards are backwards compatible so games designed for DX9 or DX10 will work fine.

The PC based Steam Machine is sometimes compared to a console but it does not garner much media attention;

Generally with a enthusiast graphics card, playing older games at 1920×1080 is not very demanding.

We have an Asus HD 7870 which has 20 GCN cores at 1000 MHz. The PS4 has 18 running at 800MHz and the Xbox One has 12 running at 853MHz.

The HD 7870 can play every game available at 1920×1080 easily. The RX 480 has 36 GCN cores which can play most games on maximum graphics settings. AMD Vega may have 64 GCN cores.

GENERATION 7

Operating System Windows XP or better
CPU Core 2 Duo processor or better
Memory 4 GB or more
Hard Drive Space 100 GB
Graphics Hardware DX9: 7800 GT / X1800 XL
Network Broadband Internet Connection Required

XBOX 360 and PS3 are designed to run on old analog televisions which 720×480 maximum resolution. Most PC gamers play at much higher resolutions which requires proportionately more powerful graphics cards.

Crysis was considered demanding as it was designed for the 7 generation console which is much more powerful than 6th generation machines.

HDTV was starting to become available so the 7th generation consoles do support HDMI. System limitations restricted most games to 1280×720 which is much less demanding. Gaming at 1920×1080 requires about triple the GPU performance.

GENERATION 6

Operating System Windows 2000 or better
CPU Pentium III 733
Memory 512 MB or more
Hard Drive Space 15 GB
Graphics Hardware DX 8.1 graphics
Network Broadband Internet Connection Required

XBOX and PS2 are designed to run on old analog televisions which 720×480 maximum resolution.

Most PC gamers play at much higher resolutions which requires proportionately more powerful graphics cards.

A good rule of thumb is for a game at 640×480, moving to 1280×1024 is 400% more demanding on average and 1920×1080 is 300% more demanding again on average. Modern gaming cards are far more powerful and they can play generation 6 games easily.

Games like Half-Life, Counter-Strike have such easy system requirements that many can be played on recent laptop machines easily. Low-end machines may lack adequate GPU performance but integrated graphics on CPUs have improved slowly.

GENERATION 5

Operating System Windows 95 or better
CPU 80486DX
Memory 16 MB or more
Hard Drive Space 1 GB
Graphics Hardware VGA and SVGA graphics
Network Broadband Internet Connection Required

Generation 5 games span 1993 though 2001.

  • CD-ROM
  • 320×200 to 640×480
  • 24-bit and 32-bit true color

Hardware improvements included early transform and lighting to support 3D polygons and texture mapping. Improved sprite graphics are widely used.

Side scrolling games gave way to 3D interactive games. DirectX was evolving rapidly. DX9 is available for Windows 98.