There are many good reasons to want to know the specification of your PC or laptop. Perhaps it is running slowly and you're wondering 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. It's easy to check your laptop's specification. Here's how.
How do I find out my laptop or PC's specifications?
In Windows 10 this is a very simple. Just right-click on the start button (the little Windows icon) and choose Device Manager. This will tell you quite a bit, including which processor and graphics card you have and plenty of other information besides.
To find out how much RAM, right-click on the start button again, but choose System. This gives you a summary of the operating system, plus how much RAM is installed.
If you have Windows 8 Just hover over the top right hand corner of your screen to bring up the Charms. Then choose Settings > PC info. This is a shortcut 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 you have. 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. The latter is far more common.
If you're happy to download a small app, we recommend Piriform's Speccy. There's a free version with no support, but it analyses any computer running Windows and gives you a neat summary of the specs, including your motherboard and monitor's make and model, your hard drives and any USB-connected storage and even their temperatures.
What graphics card is in my PC?
In any version of Windows, open the Control Panel (or search for it in the start menu if you can't find it), then search for Device Manager.
Now open Display adapters in the tree. You will see what graphics card your PC or laptop is using. You can expand the Processors branch to see how many cores your CPU has, too. Bear in mind that some may be 'virtual' cores, where a processor supports Hyper-threading for example.
How can I find out the specs of my Mac?
Apple makes it even easier to view specs. In OS X just click the Apple icon, and choose 'About this Mac'.