There are many good reasons for why you may wish to know the specification of your PC or laptop. Perhaps it is running slowly and you want to know if an upgrade is appropriate. You may be looking to buy or sell a laptop, or see if your computer is up to running a specific program or game. Regardless, once you have thrown away the box in which your PC or laptop arrived it can be difficult to glean the exact spec.
Some PCs and laptops have stickers on them that tell you the key specifications. If not, panic not. Here we'll show you simple ways to check your laptop's specification. How to check the CPU, RAM, OS and graphics card in any Windows or Mac PC or laptop. See also: Group test: what's the best graphics card?
How to check your laptop- or PC's specifications
In Windows 8 this is a very simple. Just hover over the top righthand corner of your screen to bring up the Charms. Then choose Settings > PC info. This is a short cut that takes you to Control Panel > System and Security > System.
In Windows XP or Windows 7, you have to work a little harder. Right-click on My Computer and select Properties (in Windows XP, this is called System Properties). Look for System in the Properties window (Computer in XP).
Whichever version of Windows you are using, you'll now bee able to see your PC- or laptop's processor, memory and OS.
Processor tells you the speed of your CPU, and the specific processor model. The entry for Memory (RAM) tells you how much RAM is running on your computer. More is better, but if you have a 32-bit operating system, you can use only up to 4GB of RAM.
Finally, the entry for System type will tell you what version of Windows you are running. Newer versions of Windows will also tell you if you have a 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor.
Now let's find out what graphics card your laptop or PC is running, knowing that most laptops have onboard graphics rather than a discrete graphics card.
What graphics card is in my PC?
In Windows 8, go to the Charms, Settings, PC info window as above. In Windows XP or Windows 7 get to My Computer, Properties, System (System Properties) as above.
Now, go to Device Manager > Display Adaptors. You will see what graphics card your PC or laptop is using.
How to view Mac specs
Typically, Apple makes it even easier to view specs. In OS X just click the Apple icon, and choose 'About this Mac'. See also: Group test: what's the best budget graphics card?