Checking to see if your computer can handle The Sims 3

So you read the specs for The Sims 3 and you want to know if you are able to run the game. Good idea! I wrote a tutorial that will guide you to view your system’s information to see if it is possible!

What are the system requirements for The Sims 3?

Please visit this page for the system requirements (the link will open in a new window).

How do I find my system’s information?

Very simple!

For XP users:

  1. Go to your Start Menu
  2. Select Run
  3. When the box pops up, type in “dxdiag” without the quote (“) marks
  4. If it asks you about signing digital drivers, just click on the Yes button
  5. Give or take a few seconds, and it will pop up (see picture below)

For Vista users:

  1. Go to your Start Menu
  2. In the Search box, type in “dxdiag” without the quote (“) marks
  3. If it asks you about signing digital drivers, just click on the Yes button
  4. Give or take a few seconds, and it will pop up (see picture below)

Is my processor good enough?

Your processor is the key component of your computer – it handles how fast your computer can process tasks. The Sims 3 requires a decent processor.

XP users:

  • Pentium IV 2.0 GHz / Athlon XP 2000+ or equivalent

Vista users:

  • Pentium IV 2.4 GHz / Athlon XP 2400+ or equivalent

For computers using built in Graphics Chipsets (laptops or low end PC’s):

  • 2.6 GHz Pentium D CPU, or 1.8 GHz Core 2 Duo, or equivalent

I’m not too knowledgable when it comes to AMD processors – I’m an Intel guy. Basically, if you own a recent computer you might not have any issues with the processor.

If you own a Pentium 4 processor, then it needs to be above 2.0Ghz for XP or 2.4 Ghz for Vista. Same goes with AMD processors – it needs to be above the XP 2400 line.

For those with Dual Core processors, you should be able to run the game fine. However, if the speed is below the minimum requirements (I’ll go by 1.8Ghz), it might run like molasses.

For Quad Core processors, you shouldn’t have to worry.

Now keep in mind, just because you have a dual core 2.5Ghz processor or a quad core 2.5Ghz processor, it does not mean that you have 5Ghz total and 10Ghz total. It’s not calculated that way! It means that each core processor (dual is 2, quad is 4) can run 2.5Ghz independently. Dual/Quad cores are meant for multi-tasking, working with multiple programs. Example would be that you can run The Sims 3 and then have iTunes playing in the background and it’s not using the same processor – it’s splitting up the workload between the two (or four).

If you are on a laptop…this is a little tricky to determine. It depends on how old your laptop is and how much you paid for it. If your laptop meets the minium requirements, then it might just be able to run the game (it depends if it has a good enough graphics chipset or card).

Do I have enough Memory (RAM)?

Memory is another key component to your machine. The Sims 3 will require anywhere between 1 – 2 gigs to run smoothly (depending on if you have XP or Vista on a PC, or a laptop with XP or Vista).

When you do a DXDIAG report, it tells you your Memory in Megabytes. It might seem confusing at first, but it’s simple. 1024MB equals 1GB of Ram. Anything less than that (256MB, 512MB, 768MB) will most likely not be able to handle the game. The sweet spot for memory in today’s computer is around 2 GB (2048MB) to 3GB (3072MB). I built my computer to last for a long time, so I put in 8GB of memory (which is why it shows 8190MB in the Vista DXDIAG picture)

If you have less than 1GB of memory, you’ll need to add new sticks of RAM in (check out my Sims 3 Tutorials section for a tutorial on how to do that) – or if your machine is old, just buy a new one.

Harddrive space…can I even install the game?

In order to find your harddrive space, you need to take a different route. Open up My Computer, right click the drive that you plan to install TS3 on and select “Properties” to find out how much space you have left.

The blue color represents how much I’ve used (64.5GB), and the pink represents how much space I have left (87.3GB). I am perfectly capable of installing TS3 on my harddrive as the game only uses 6.5GB of harddrive space (plus an additional 1GB for custom content). Are you?

If you have plenty of space, then cheer! I’d personally recommend having 20GB and above of free space – that way you can also install other apps and programs.

If you don’t, then don’t panic! It’s not hard to free up space on your harddrives.  I have a few tips on how to clean up your harddrive on my Harddrive Tutorial.

Video and Graphics cards…Will mine work?

From what I can tell, this is the most common question… and a little difficult for me to answer! First off, you’ll want to check the system requirements for TS3 to see if your video card is on the list. If it is on the list, then yes, you should be able to run it. If not…then you may just have a problem. The Sims 3 requires a video card that has 128 MB with support for Pixel Shader 2.0.

You need to ask yourself how old is the card in your machine and how much you paid for your computer back when you bought it. Cheap end PC’s usually come using either a crappy video card that barely allows you to play games or it uses on-based graphics chipsets which is generally…crap. Medium range PC’s come with decent cards, and the expensive ones – for gamers, come with great cards – but with a hefty price tag!

Low end laptops uses on-based graphics – no video card ($300-$500), medium range laptops ($500-$800) usually comes with a decent (not great) video card and your high end laptops ($900 and higher) come with a great video card. Keep in mind how old your laptop is. A 3 year old laptop will more than likely not run the game unless it was a high end laptop (and even then I’m unsure if it will).

Anyways, to check to see what card you have, jump back up to your DXDIAG report and click on the “Display” tab.

In the above picture, you’ll notice the following things. The Name tells you what card you have (Radeon 9800 Pro), Manufacture is ATI, and the card’s total memory is 128MB. Taking a look at the Sims 3 specs, I find that the game does support the 9800 card (whichs means it supports Pixel Shader 2.0) and it has enough memory to work – 128MB.

For those with Intel based Chipsets. The Sims 3 supports the Intel 965 Chipset family. You have to make sure the Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA for short) is either X3000 or higher in order for the game to run. You can find out what GMA the chip was made with by doing the following:

Windows Vista:

1. Right-click on the desktop and choose Personalize.
2. Click Display Settings.
3. Click Advanced Settings.
4. The graphics controller identifier is displayed on the top section of the Adapter tab.

For all other Windows versions:

1. Right-click on the desktop and choose Properties.
2. Click the Settings tab.
3. Click Advanced.
4. Click the Adapter tab.
5. The graphics controller is listed in the Adapter Type section.

As you see in the above picture, the Adapter String lists “Intel GMA X3100″ and since it’s higher than the supported Intel GMA (X3000) it will work!

In the above picture, you’ll notice the following things. The Name tells you what card you have (Radeon 9800 Pro), Manufacture is ATI, and the card’s total memory is 128MB. Taking a look at the Sims 3 specs, I find that the game does support the 9800 card (whichs means it supports Pixel Shader 2.0) and it has enough memory to work – 128MB.

Oh, one last thing…it’s best to make sure the video card’s drivers are up-to-date (look on the picture above and check out the “drivers info” – the last time it was updated was in 2004!). In order to update your graphic’s cards drivers you need to visit your manufacture’s drivers page and select the card you have. Here’s a start for you:

Note: Pixel Shader 2.0 is the process of which the graphics card addes lighting and shading effects to pixels. Check out Wikipedia’s information on Pixel Shading to see what cards support Pixel Shading 2.0 and higher (if you have a card that supports a higer version of pixel shading, you’re good to go!)

If you find out your card will not work, don’t panic! Cards can easily be upgraded and replaced. Head on back to The Sims 3 Tutorials section to find a tutorial on how to replace your video card!

Conclusion

Hopefully I didn’t confuse you more than you were. I’m good at doing that…With this tutorial, I hoped it explained some of your concerns on running the game. Remember, parts are upgradable in PC’s – laptops are a different story – only some parts are. If you are running on a very old machine, it’d be wise to start shopping for a new computer. If you have any friends that are computer/tech savvy in your area, it’d be best to get ahold of them and see if they can help you pick out a good computer for a decent price. Or better yet, if they know how to build one check with them to see if it is possible – you might end up saving money and get a really good computer out of it!