It is often hard to see the line between obsolete and viability for most hardware on the PC resale market. Computers chugging away quietly in a workstation corner for five-plus years often turn up on the Facebook marketplace, Let Go, or other digital marketplaces.
While the performance of a PC varies from game to game, developers follow a constant trend for the minimum and recommended requirements for hardware as years progress. This generality of moving to new hardware creates the new “minimum requirements spec” for releasing games has become a joint discussion in the enthusiast sphere.
The minimum requirements for most games in today's PC market is an NVIDIA GTX 770 or an equivalent with 2GB of VRAM and a CPU from Intel’s 3000 to 7000 series, depending on the game. The recommended hardware for gaming is a GTX 1070 GPU with 4.5/4 GB of VRAM and an Intel i5-9600 CPU.
Every game's requirements differ; we find that these configurations cover a majority of hardware used in gaming in 2021/2022. Let's look into the most critical aspects of each component and what the FPS counter contributes when configuring one of our custom gaming PCs.
A motherboard depends on two significant factors to get the best performance out of a given set of hardware. Most BIOS versions only support the current or previous generation of hardware at release. Motherboards BIOS are either updated or come with the latest drivers via DISC or USB. This is to ensure that no matter the shelf life, the hardware supports the latest BIOS when given to the customer. This is not likely to happen for most individual resellers looking to pass on their PC.
The CPU is one of the most critical components when describing the capabilities of a system. A CPU is excellent for procedural physics and number generation and simulation in real space. If a game is CPU-dependent, you can look up requirements from the developers. Here are a few games that I came across using this article as a helpful list for determining game requirements.
- Kerbal Space Program
- Universe Sandbox
- BeamNG Drive
- Civilization 5 & 6
The GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) is one of the most coveted components in the gaming market due to being required for most games and display types. While games get more detailed, dated graphics cards need to get creative. The minimum requirement for VRAM (video RAM) has held strong for over four years however is starting to move up in requirement. Here are some examples of games considered GPU dependent:
- Apex Legends
- Rainbow 6 Siege
- Metro Exodus
- CoD: Modern Warfare
While viewed as a supporting component to the CPU, RAM is a necessary constant that brings out the best features in a CPU. While not always pushed to the max, specific workloads cause the most run-of-the-mill RAM to reduce performance. Here is a list of some games and VR titles that depend on a recommended amount of 16GB of RAM:
- Project Cars 3
- Resident Evil 8
The PSU is a mediation component that is better explained in this article. Its primary role is to provide adequate power to all hardware within a system. While the type and conditions of certain CPUs, GPUs, and RAM varies depending on their specification, the PSU gives the system the proper power budget to accommodate any needs, including overclocks or future component power requirements. While second-hand PSUs can be viable, the detailed history of a PSU leads to more confidence in its ability to provide a system with its needs and keep the components safe.
Storage is one of the most subjective quantitative issues for a given PC, and the importance goes into two questions for a given system: "How fast and how much would you like?” which is a different answer for everyone.
If a person plays, for example, three games with a combined storage space of 300GB, If you only want to play those games, then you could opt for an NVME like our 512GB option.
It is best to prioritize what games are played the most and their size to accommodate better vs. worse storage solutions. For example, If a game has substantially long loading times, it would be best to have them on the fastest storage option to reduce time loading assets.
While no operating system is entirely out of service, the most popular operating systems for games on the Steam store hardware report are Windows 10 64bit (74.69%), Windows 11 (16.84%), and Windows 7 (4.14%). While a PC can use any steam compatible OS or game, developers often support the most popular OS versions for the intended user base.
Conclusion for PC requirements
While every PC is not made equal, the accommodation for older hardware has significantly helped most people who get older PCs from second-hand marketplaces. Intel's 3000s series of CPUs released in 2012 are still viable as the minimum requirement for gaming releasing this year and last has not changed. From this behavior, generations just recently released can last well into the 2030s unless a major computing revolution comes along after we move away from silicon chips.
In the meantime, Apex has created its 50% PCs line, which utilizes these later generation components like the Intels 9000 series of CPUs, mixing them with our modern RTX 3000 series cards for competitive performance at a significant discount for savings.
Each component is a majority of games standard for both minimal and recommended specs needed to keep up with more modern PCs. Whatever your PC component needs to hit minimum game requirements, we hope to support you at Apex!
Written by Will Wilson
Photo Credits: Pavan Bhakta