With Vista's launch almost upon us, you may need to know if your existing hardware can take the strain of all those tasty new features.

This article appears as part of our comprehensive guide to Windows Vista in the March 07 issue of PC Advisor, available now in all good newsagents. Click here to visit our dedicated Windows Vista forum.

Microsoft hasn’t made precise system requirements for Vista and whether your PC is up to the task will depend to a large extent on the version of the operating system you choose.

Whether upgrading or buying a PC on which you ultimately intend to run Vista, you should be aware of the crucial differences between a system that's Vista-Capable and one that’s Vista Premium Ready. The absolute base specification is an 800MHz processor with 512MB of RAM and a DirectX 9.0 capable graphics card. Such a hardware specification is unlikely to provide a great Vista experience, however.

As with the Home Basic edition, you won't get the 3D interface or funky graphics. Vista Premium Ready PCs have at least 1GB of RAM, a 1GHz or faster 32- or 64bit processor, a 128MB Vista-certified graphics card with DirectX 9.0 support and 40GB of hard disk space, of which at least 15GB should be free.

For full details on preparing your PC for Vista visit Microsoft's dedicated page.

This article appears as part of our comprehensive guide to Windows Vista in the March 07 issue of PC Advisor, available now in all good newsagents. Click here to visit our dedicated Windows Vista forum.