Ready to buy the latest hit AAA title? Unsure of whether or not your computer can run it? In this guide, we’ve listed three methods for finding out whether or not your PC can run a specific game.
PC gaming is different from console gaming in that, whereas with a console, any game you purchase for that console is guaranteed to run with no problems. However, with PC games, there is no guarantee that they will run well on your computer. If you have a cheap laptop with bare minimum specs and integrated graphics, you probably won’t be able to run most games with even moderate graphics.
First Things First, Check Your PC’s Specs
Before you can tell whether or not your computer or laptop meets the requirements of a game like Fortnite or Apex Legends, you first need to know what kind of hardware is inside of your system.
The main components inside your computer that will determine what games it can and cannot play are your processor and your GPU. After that, the next most important components of your system are the amount of RAM you have and the storage space you have available.
We have a detailed guide on how to find your PC’s specs that will help you figure out the components inside of your system, but here’s a quick rundown of how to find those four components quickly:
Your Processor & Memory
- Right-click on the Windows start menu icon
- Click on ‘System’
- Under ‘Device specifications’ you’ll see your processor and how much RAM your computer has
- Right-click on the Windows start menu icon
- Click on ‘Device Manager’
- Click on the arrow next to ‘Display Adapters’
- Your GPU will be listed there
Storage Space Available
- Type ‘File Explorer’ into the Windows search box and hit enter
- Click on ‘This PC’ on the left sidebar of the File Explorer
- Under ‘Devices and drives, you’ll see a list of storage devices you have as well as how much space they have available
Now that you know what kind of hardware is inside your system, you’ll be able to use the methods below to tell what games your computer can run.
Method 1: Check The Game’s System Requirements
Most PC games list a set of hardware requirements that must be met in order to run the game properly. So, if you have a specific game in question, you can simply search for ‘[game you want to play] system requirements‘ (without the quotes and brackets) and the game’s website should show up in the results and that page will tell you what the requirements to run the game are.
If the game in question is available on Steam, you can also go to the game’s listing in the Steam store and that will have the requirements listed as well.
Most games list both the bare minimum hardware requirements and the reccomended requirements to run the game. So, now that you know what hardware is in your PC and you have the game’s system requirements at hand, all you have to do is compare your hardware to the hardware requirements listed.
- If your hardware is similar or better to the minimum requirements, then you can probably play the game on lower settings.
- If your hardware is similar or better to the recommended requirements, then you can probably play the game on medium or higher settings.
How Can I Tell if My Hardware is Better than the Listed System Requirements?
It will be easy to tell whether or not your memory and available storage will meet the requirements of the game in question, but it is not always clear if your CPU and GPU are better or worse than the listed requirements.
Of course, if you’re up-to-date on the latest in PC hardware, you’ll probably have a good idea of how the different CPUs and GPUs rank in terms of performance.
If you’re not up-to-date, you can find out quickly whether or not your CPU and GPU are better or worse than the options listed in the game’s system requirements.
Does Your CPU Meet the Game’s System Requirements?
- Go to UserBenchmark’s CPU compare tool
- Choose your processor in the first drop-down
- Choose the minimum or recommended CPU listed in the game’s system requirements
- Once you’ve selected the two CPUs to compare, the number in the ‘Avg. Gaming Bench’ row will let you know which CPU is superior (and give an estimate by how much)
Does Your GPU Meet the Game’s System Requirements?
- Go to UserBenchmark’s GPU compare tool
- Choose your GPU in the first drop-down
- Choose the minimum or recommended GPU listed in the game’s system requirements
- Once you’ve selected the two GPUs to compare, the number in the ‘Avg. Gaming Bench’ row will let you know which GPU is superior (and give an estimate by how much)
While this method won’t give you a perfect idea of how your system will perform running a specific game, it will at least help you quickly check and see whether or not your computer will come close to meeting the minimum/recommended system requirements.
My System Doesn’t Meet the Minimum Requirements? Is All Lost?
If your computer doesn’t meet the minimum requirements, you still might be able to play the game. When the Oculus Rift first came out, I had an Intel Core i5-3570K processor, which was below the Rift’s system requirements at the time. The headset even warned me that the CPU didn’t meet the requirements.
However, the CPU was plenty powerful enough to run the headset and I had no problems running VR games with it.
This isn’t always the case, but if your hardware comes close to the minimum requirements, you still might be able to play the game. The best way to check if that is true for you is to check benchmarks from others who have a similar hardware set as you. We discuss how to do that in Method 3 listed below.
But, first, let’s discuss how to use the ‘Can I Run It’ tools out there.
Method 2: Use A ‘Can I Run It’ Tool
If you’re willing to download a tool to check and see if your computer can run a specific game, System Requirements Lab’s ‘Can You Run It Tool’ can help you quickly check and see if your system can run that game.
Here’s how it works:
- Go to the Can You Run it Tool
- Enter the game you want to check
- Hit ‘Can You Run It’
- On the next page, hit ‘Can You Run It’ again
- Install the Detection app so that the tool can check your hardware
- Once installed, the tool will update and tell you whether or not you can run the game
Once you have the Detection app installed, you’ll also be able to check and see if your system can run other games and you won’t have to redownload the tool every time.
How Accurate Are These Tools?
If the ‘Can I Run It’ tool says that you can run the game, then you can probably run it. If the tool says you can’t run the game, that may not necessarily be true. Again, the tool is just cross-checking your system’s hardware with the game’s minimum/recommended specifications. And, sometimes the game developers error on the side of caution with their minimum requirements.
So, while the ‘Can I Run It’ tool is a nice option to quickly check whether or not you can play a game, if it says you can’t run that game, you’re not completely out of luck. You’ll want to check user benchmarks first. And, we’ll describe how to do that in the method listed below.
Other ‘Can I Run It’ Tools
Method 3: Check YouTube Benchmarks
Another method to use to check and see if you can run a specific game is to simply do a search that contains your CPU, GPU, and the game you want to check and then watch the YouTube videos that pop up.
For example, if my computer had an Intel Core i5-3570 processor and a GTX 960 graphics card inside of it, and I wanted to see if it could run Fortnite, then I would search for the following:
3570 gtx 960 fortnite
Here’s the first video that pops up:
If you watch the video, the YouTuber first shows what settings they are playing Fortnite at (in this case, all high settings) and then they proceeed to play the game. Fortnite runs at about 70 FPS throughout the video, which is great. So, the i5-3570 and GTX 960 combination is plenty good enough to run Fortnite.
Of course, this isn’t a perfect example, because an i5-3570 and GTX 960 easily meets the displayed recommended system requirements of Fortnite. However, this does show you another method of how you can go about finding out if your computer can run a specific game.
And, in my opinion, this is the most accurate method to tell, as the other methods listed above are just guessing based off of the game developers listed requirements—which aren’t always 100% accurate.
Ultimately, though, any of the three methods listed above will work fairly well.
Your Computer Can’t Run the Game, Now What?
If your computer/laptop just can’t run the game you want to play, your only option is to upgrade your system.
You can either upgrade the individual components in your system if you have a desktop, or you can completely replace it with a new system (laptop or desktop) if it’s so old that it wouldn’t be worth upgrading.
If you’re willing to build your own computer, you can save a lot of money and still get a system that can run most games. Check out our Cheap PC Builds guide for examples of configurations that will cost under $800 and will have you playing pretty much any PC game (even the $400 and $500 builds can play most games on a 1080P monitor).
If you need a new laptop, this guide lists the best gaming laptops available for under $1,000.