Generic shot of a computer

How to check your computer's specs

  • Find out how much memory your computer has installed
  • Follow the steps for Windows XP, Windows Vista or Mac users
  • Learn about Windows Device Manager
  • Straightforward step-by-step advice with screen shots

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This article, How to check your computer's specs, was last updated on 01 October 2009 and is now out of date and held in our online archive for reference. Explore our latest Technology articles.

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Checking your computer's specification

When you buy computer software or a peripheral such as a printer or scanner, you're sure to find the product's minimum requirements listed somewhere on the packaging. Minimum requirements give the lowest specification of each component of your computer – memory, processor or graphics card, say – that's needed in order for the program or peripheral to run properly.

If you're unsure how much memory your computer has, how powerful the processor is or which operating system you're running, here's how to find out. We've included instructions for Windows Vista, Windows XP and Mac OS X.

Read more free computing advice from Which?


Use Windows Vista to find out your PC's specs in a few easy clicks

Check specs in Windows Vista

If your computer is running Windows Vista, you can find out details about its system using the following steps:

Select Start > Control Panel > System. 

This brings up a box showing basic information about your computer such as the type of processor and the amount of memory installed.

You can get further information about your graphics card, sound card and attached peripherals, too:

Clicking on Device Manager from the left-hand Tasks menu will show you more information about the hardware you have installed. 

(See the instructions for using Windows XP, below, to find out more about Device Manager).

Read our free guide to adding extra RAM memory to your PC


Device Manager provides details about your peripherals

Check specs in Windows XP

If your computer is running Windows XP, you can find out details about its system using the following steps:

Select Start > Control Panel > System. This launches the System Properties dialog box.

Alternatively, right-click the My Computer icon (usually on your desktop or accessible from the Start bar) and select Properties.

The General tab on the System Properties window displays those all important Ram and processor details and which version of Windows you're using (including the Service Pack).

Device Manager

You'll notice that there are other tabs running along the top of the System Properties box. Clicking on one of these tabs brings up further options within the box. For example, to see what printer, scanner or graphics card is installed on your computer, click the Hardware tab, then Device Manager

You'll see a list of different types of hardware. To bring up further information about a piece of hardware, right-click on the hardware in the list, then select Properties to see more details.


It's just as easy to get information about your Mac's specifications

Check specs in Mac OS X

If your computer is running Mac OS X, you can find out details about its system using the following steps:

Click the Apple icon at the top left of your screen, and select About this Mac (you'll see About this computer instead on older Macs).

A box will appear on the screen containing information on what operating system you're running, how much Ram memory your Mac has and details about your processor. 

The latest versions of Mac OS X have a ‘More info...’ button you can click for in-depth hardware and software specifications.

Read our reviews of the latest laptops from Apple, Sony and Dell

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