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I know what you're thinking - "OMG Georgie has made yet another blog! God help us!" :P Well this isn't the kind of blog I would normally write and it has probably been tossed around so many times before but from my own personal experience, I present this guide on what kind of machine to buy to run The Sims 3...or any new-ish PC game in-fact.
Nowadays when you buy a machine for graphics, you will wonder about one thing: "Does it run Crysis?"
I can tell you that if it does, you're more than safe! The Sims 3 only needs a 128MB video card but The Sims Medieval however needs a 256MB video card. Thankfully, most new computers will have at least 256MB of VRAM. There is still one thing that I'd advise you not to do, even if there is enough memory on the card:
I tried to run TS3 on a GMA 950. Everything else met the system requirements but that card didn't have what it takes to run the game; apparently it's not so great on the GMA 3000 series either. GMA also drains your CPU as it is an integrated chipset, thus reducing performance.
I'd recommend you get a chipset that is either an ATI Radeon or an nVidia, as they are dedicated chipsets and they won't put any burden on the rest of your computer. Also as gaming technology for the PC evolves, you can upgrade an ATI or nVidia card whereas you'd be stuck with the GMA forever.
What processor do I need?
The three major Intel processors today, the Core i3, i5 and i7, should be powerful enough to run The Sims 3 at the least. A 2.4Ghz Intel Pentium 4 is the recommended but from research, a Core 2 Duo at 2Ghz should be enough.
I'd aim to get something above the minimum requirements, as it would then leave enough for the game and the computer to run at the same time. While the game would work on the minimum, it would be competing with other applications and even the operating system for power. Like I said, an i3, i5 or i7 on either Windows or Mac should be fine.
What about the RAM?
2GB of RAM is enough to run your everyday needs and should be enough to run the game. I'd go for 3GB personally and RAM is pretty cheap to buy, so you can install another gigabyte or something to the computer. Having less RAM will mean that the game will run dead slooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooow. If it helps, try terminating background applications that you don't need and that use up a lot of RAM (*cough*Firefox and Steam*cough*) so that the game performance would be a lot better.
Hard disk space
This is a minor thing. The base game takes up ~6GB of Hard disk space and most hard drives come with at least 120GB of space. If you're a user of custom content, more content means less space (and higher RAM usage). You can always delete space consuming files. So yeah, hard drive isn't really an issue.
Like you'd do with most things, if there is a newer version of something and you can afford it, get it! Windows 7 and Mac OSX...whatever is good enough to run The Sims 3 and should do it without a hitch. However, The Sims 2 may be more problematic if your machine is too powerful or possibly on 7 (although that is unconfirmed). You can install Windows XP onto a second hard drive and run it on a Mac via Boot Camp.
Desktop vs Laptop
A brand new laptop should be good at running The Sims 3 amongst other games, but a desktop is better in most cases. Usually the laptop has a dumbed down version of the equipment so that it can run as a mobile computer. I'll admit that I'd hate being tied to a chair and playing a game on a desktop with no freedom whatsoever but if you want better performance, a desktop is the way forward although laptops should still do a good job.
What do I need to run The Sims 3, then?
There, I am finally done!
So yeah, that is my guide to buying a computer for gaming. Did I miss something important? Do you have your own personal experience of running a game on a computer and it surprised you? Feel free to comment below!