It’s always good to know exactly what sort of hardware your computer has. It will save an awful lot of headache when it comes to upgrading your system down the line, and it will make it easier to know which upgrades you can make with the components you already have. Knowing the exact specs of a PC is also good for seeing if you can run that next big game that’s slated to come out or if your workstation can handle the intensive project you want to start.
It may sound like a daunting task, but finding the exact specifications of your PC can be easy. This step-by-step guide will go over what you should be looking for and where to find all of the key information that you need to determine what components your system has.
Determining CPU Model and Speed
The first component that every PC or workstation will have is the CPU or Central Processing Unit. It is the brain of the machine and is one of the biggest factors when it comes to the speed at which your system performs. It also happens to be one the easiest to find bits of information in Windows. There are quite a few ways to find this information, but I’ll go over the most streamlined way here.
- Right-click the Windows icon of your PC’s start menu
- Scroll down until you see “System” and click that option
- This will take you to the specification menu for your PC. The make, model, and speed of the CPU will be listed right after “Processor”
Determining GPU Model and Speed
The GPU or Graphics Processing Unit is a piece of hardware that most gaming-focused builds and professional PCs will have. If you’re currently using a workstation or company PC, your system may not have or require a discrete graphics card for tasks. If the below steps do not populate any results, keep that fact in mind.
The quickest way to see which GPU you have is to navigate to your PC’s task manager. You can get to this menu by following the same steps listed in the CPU section, but click on “Task Manager” instead of “System.” Additionally, you can reach that same quick list of PC menus by clicking the Windows key (WIN) and “X” at the same time if you don’t wish to go down and right-click each time.
In the tabs up top, click on “Performance” and then navigate to the bottom GPU option to see exactly which GPU you have. The make and model of the GPU will appear in the top right of the menu. Additionally, this is another area where you can find out which CPU you have as well as monitor its speed and usage.
Determining RAM Capacity and Speed
RAM or Random Access Memory functions as quick-access memory that interfaces directly with components such as the CPU and GPU. While you’re in the task manager, click over to the “Memory” tab to see how much RAM is currently in use and how much is available. It will show as x/x with the latter number being the total number of GBs between your modules. You can also see the speed in MHz down next to the “Speed” tab below the usage chart.
Alternatively, you can follow the exact same steps listed under the CPU section if you just want to see how much total RAM is installed; however, this menu does not show the speed of the memory or how much has been allocated to use.
Determining HDD/SSD Capacity
Your system may have a single Hard Disc Drive (HDD), Solid State Drive (SDD), or a combination of the two. To check, follow these steps:
- Type “This PC” into the Windows system search bar and click on the icon that looks like a PC monitor
- Scroll down until you see “Devices and Drives”
- Any drives your system has will be listed here, as well as the capacity and remaining storage space in each
Determining Which Motherboard You Have
Finding out which motherboard your PC has is a little trickier than getting the information for the other components in the system. The quickest and most straightforward method will be to crack your PC open and take a look. The brand and model of the motherboard will often be printed in a rather large font somewhere on one of the corners of the board. But, I understand if you aren’t quite comfortable getting inside of the system. Don’t worry, there are other ways.
You will want to navigate back to the Windows system search bar and type in “System Information.” Click on the icon that populates. You will see a long list of system details, but we can ignore most of these. Scroll down until you see “BaseBoard Manufacturer” and “BaseBoard Product.” The first listing will tell you the brand of your board while the second will list the model.
For more information about your board’s compatibility and expandability options, plug the information you found here into your Internet search engine and navigate to the manufacturer’s website for detailed information.
Okay, Now What?
Now that you have this valuable information, you can go into your next build or upgrade with confidence. Knowing what components you have is the first step to ensuring that your next upgrade is compatible with your current hardware or if your new build idea is better than the one you currently have. To go a step further, it’s best to research what the current best options in the market are at your price range.
If that sounds a little daunting, feel free to check out one of our many build guides or use our comprehensive system builder that will match you with a PC to fit your goals and budget!