Does your computer meet minimum hardware requirements?

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Does your computer meet the hardware requirements of the software you're prepared to purchase? 

Unfortunately, many consumers will not review hardware requirements prior to purchasing software and are very disappointed when installation fails or when the application performs sluggishly during run time. A common misconception is, "I have a new computer, so the software will work on my machine".  Unfortunately, however, this most often is not the case and buyers are often very displeased when applications fail to operate.

With this guide we'd like to help buyers understand hardware requirements and explain the process of comparing computer hardware components to the hardware requirements of software prior to purchase.

First, let's start by reviewing a typical list of hardware requirements pulled from one of our auctions:

Operation System (OS):  Windows XP and 2000
Processor:   Pentium III 2.0Ghz
Hard drive Space: 2GB
RAM:    256MB
Video:    DirectX 9.0c 64MB Geforce or Radeon Compatible
Sound Card:   Directx 9.0c Compatible
Disc Format:   DVD
Drive Speed   8x
Most often the hardware requirements specified are the absolute minimum hardware requirements needed in order to operate software. 
Manufacturer's will sometimes provide a separate "Recommended" list of hardware requirements for optimal performance. However,
our research indicates that most online advertising only provides the minimum list.

(Operating System or OS) indicates the type of software platform required to operate the game a computer.  This is the very first requirement
that should be reviewed prior to purchasing software.  If the OS requirement reads XP and 2000 as in this example, there is absolutely no
chance that it will operate on a system running Windows 95, 98 or ME.  On the other hand, if the minimum OS requirements read, "Windows 95, 98 or ME"
there's a very good chance that it will also run on XP and 2000 since XP and 2000 contain legacy software compatibility.

(Hard Drive Space) is the amount of free space required on your hard drive to install the game. We recommend that your system have at least double
the amount of free space required for optimal performance. 

(Processor) indicates the central processing unit's (CPU's) version and speed.  Again, this is most often the minimum requirement, so
if you're considering the purchase of a software package which contains intense graphics and animation such as auto racing games, it's
it's best if the system contains at least an additional .5Ghz CPU speed (i.e 2.5Ghz in this example). For word processors, spreadsheets, etc
the minimum hardware requirements for CPU should be suffice.  New computers often have the latest CPU which exceeds most minimum hardware requirements
Unfortunately, the proceeding requirements are often a bottleneck to a speedy processor.

(RAM) Random Access Memory is temporary storage for data that is extracted from your hard drive. Your CPU's speed depends on it!
RAM stores data electronically instead of on discs or platters which are too slow for direct data access. With little RAM, the CPU makes repeated
calls to the hard drive.  If software requires 256MB for example, and a computer only contains 128MB, there's a good chance that the application will install and run;
however, the performance will be extremely slow. And, if you listen closely to the computer, you'll hear it girgling and flicking its little red LED
continuously.  The computer is trying to compensate for the lack of memory by placing information that is suppose to be in RAM back onto the hard drive in what's
called a swap file.

(Video) most often the main cause of software installation and run time failures. Almost all software applications with animation and graphics depend on Microsoft's Directx version 9.0c.  If the video card does not support 9.0c, the application will most likely not operate correctly and display will be distorted or altered at best. Directx provides a means for software to communicate directly with the video card's memory and CPU.  Without it, applications would need to make video display request to the OS first, the OS would then pass the information to the video card making smooth animations nearly impossible. The amount of VRAM or video RAM required is also very important.  From our experience, it's always best to have at least 32MB more than the minimum hardware requirements for smooth animations and game play. The type of card (i.e Geforce, Radeon), is the name brand with which the software is compatible.   If your video card is not mentioned or is not on a list of compatible cards - don't buy the application unless you're willing to upgrade the video card as well!
Keynote: Intel chipsets are often incompatible with current video games.  Most games released today, are incompatible on Intel based video chipsets. Some software applications also specify T&L (Transform and Lighting) or Pixel Shading requirements.  If these requirements are mentioned, and the video card does not support these features, the software application will not operate without a video card upgrade.

(Sound Card) are rarely an issue with compatibility since most all comply with international standards unlike a few years ago!

(Disc Format) DVD or CD is also a very important requirement.  Always review the disc format prior to purchase.  A DVD disc will not operate in a CD or CDRW drive.  On the contrary, a CD disk will always operate in a DVD or DVDRW drive.  Review your drive's speed also.  Although a slow drive rarely prohibits installation and game play, it can significanly affect run time operation if the drive does not meet minimum requirements.
Keynote: Most DVD and CD software applications are not regionally encoded, and a purchase any internationally is never a problem with compatibility.  The same does not apply to DVD movies!

With minimum hardware requirements explained by example, let's now review the steps to reviewing our own hardware!

Using Microsoft's Dxdiag command, your computer will reveal most of it's current software and hardware settings.

Using Windows 95, 98, ME, XP or 2000, Click on Start; then select "Run".  Type in DXDIAG and press Enter or click OK, this will open the DirectX diagnostic tool. The first tab "System" will reveal your CPU (Processor) Speed and version, Directx version, and available RAM among many other resources. Next, click on the "Display" tab. Here you'll find your Video manufacturer (name brand) and VRAM.  To determine the amount of free hard drive space, you can either click on the "Save All Information" button and scroll down the extensive list through a word processor, but it's much easier to use "My Computer" and right click with your mouse on your hard drive (i.e C:, D:) and select "Properties".

Well, I hope that this quick quide is helpful for some buyers!  Our staff is always here to help you with questions regarding compatibility - even if the question is not related to one of our items! Send us an email, we'd be happy to help you make the right choice prior to purchase!

You can send us your Dxdiag report by doing the following:

Click on the Save All Information Button (save this file to your windows desktop and name it dxdiag).
Attach the dxdiag.txt file to an email and send it to our support through eBay's forum to member AlphaLeap

Kind Regards,
AlphaLeap USA LLC

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