by Jeff Smith
Today's hottest games take some pretty strong hardware to run. You could be reading this while driving home with your new machine from the computer store even now (wow, you can read and drive?) and unless you bought a PC that is specifically built for gaming, chances are you can't run the newest games. And believe it or not, for some of the best games, a computer that can run them with all the graphics maxxed out doesn't exactly exist yet. Oh, they can be run, but some of the more taxing features have to be turned down or off, else they run choppy and slowly. Doing this allows a game to look up to date on hardware built five years from now, or at least thats the intention.
A top of the line gaming rig has to have it all. It definately needs a recent video card in order to handle the visual components of the game, it needs a good processor and lots of fast RAM in order to handle the huge gaming worlds and everything happening at once. It needs a fast hard-drive in order to pump the data where it needs to be when it needs to be. A good USB gamepad, flight-stick or racing wheel can make a big difference in some games. And recently, they've come up with whats called a dedicated physics card. This card does all of the physics related calculations for games so that it takes that task off of your processor. Game physics has to do with everything from how your Ferrari handles to how the bad guy flips over the railing like a ragdoll after you empty two full clips in his zombified head!
Now you can often run good games with a lesser than awesome machine, but graphics and effects need to be turned down. And in some instances you just plain can't. If a game requires 3D accelleration, or Hardware T&L (Transforming and Lighting) then your video hardware built into your motherboard isn't likely to cut the mustard. Familiarize yourself with the hardware that you have, and always check out the Hardware Requirements on the back of a game before you purchase it, because once it is opened, you won't be able to take it back to the store. The excuse "It won't run on my machine" just won't work (believe me I've tried it) and you'll just likely end up giving the game to someone who can run it, or else setting it on the shelf where it will continue to taunt you as it slowly gathers dust.
Next week I'll cover how to choose a good video card for your machine, and 3D gaming on Linux. See ya then!
Questions or comments, write me at