When you’re looking at a new piece of software, you’ll probably wonder whether your hardware can feasibly handle it. You might be considering whether your machine can handle the processing demands of a new video game, or speculating whether your company computer can handle the new mechanical integrity software you’re planning to install.
In any case, you’ll need a verifiable way to determine whether or not your hardware can handle that software. There are two sides to this equation; first, you’ll need to consider how well your computer runs, and then you’ll need to consider how demanding the software in question is.
Evaluating Computer Performance
Let’s start by evaluating your computer’s performance, since this is usually a fixed, known variable.
There are several factors that can affect how your computer performs, including:
- CPU speed. First, you’ll need to think about the processor your computer is equipped with. This affects the clock speed of your CPU, and is measured in millions of cycles per second, or megahertz (MHz). The faster the clock speed of your CPU, the more processing functions your computer can carry out per second. For many applications, this is a major influencing factor in your ability to handle the software, but it’s not the only factor.
- RAM availability. Your computer’s random access memory (RAM) is the active part of your computer; it’s responsible for temporarily storing the data your computer is currently using. It’s important for software applications that need to handle lots of data simultaneously, and as you might have guessed, the larger your RAM size, the better it is. Depending on which applications you’re using, 2 GB of RAM might be sufficient, but some intensive applications may run better with 8 or even 16 GB of RAM.
- Hard disk speed. Next, you’ll need to consider the speed of your hard disk—the rate at which you can write new content to your hard drive. This factor is harder to objectively measure, especially because it can vary greatly by manufacturer, the type of drive you use, and how you use the hard drive. However, the faster your hard disk speed, the better you’ll run any application.
- Hard disk space. When your hard drive is full of data, your computer won’t be able to run as efficiently. It’s usually advised to keep your computer as unclogged as possible to ensure performance.
- Graphics cards (in some cases). Some applications practically require you to have specific graphics cards—GPUs. These are specialized types of processing units, with their own processors and RAM. They’re ideal for rendering graphics (as the name suggests), which makes them good for video rendering and certain types of games, and they’re used heavily in cryptocurrency mining and similarly intensive applications.
- Usage factors. Of course, your computer’s performance can also be affected by how you use the machine on a regular basis. If you have multiple applications running at once, or if the processing loads of those applications are high, you’ll be unable to achieve the full potential of your computer.
Evaluating Software Demands
There are a few ways to evaluate how demanding a piece of software is, but the easiest is to simply consult the developer. Most developers will publicize the recommended specs for their software, noting the processing speed and/or RAM you need for an ideal experience. These aren’t always a strict requirement, but can help guide you in determining whether your computer can handle things.
Of course, you could also install a trial version of the software and see, in real-time, whether your computer can handle it.
What If You Can’t Run It?
If it looks like your computer won’t be able to run a piece of software you want, you have a few different options. Obviously, it’s possible to simply buy or build a new computer, but this isn’t usually the most efficient choice—especially considering you can easily swap out certain elements of your computer for new, upgraded versions, even if you don’t have much technical expertise. Make the changes and see how your computer performs differently—you might be surprised at the results.