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WoW Rookie: Will my computer run WoW?

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Playing WoW is no fun at all if your system doesn't cut the mustard. If you've just started playing on hardware of questionable power, you may believe you're clicking along just fine -- only to watch your frame rate come to a grinding halt the first time you're faced with a raid or Battleground full of players moving, casting and otherwise wreaking havoc (to both the game environment and your system).

Lots of players start out playing WoW on hand-me-down computer systems. In fact, the spouse who starts playing on an old hunk o' junk, only to become hooked and then upgrade to a hotter rig than that of the established player, has become something of a gaming cliché. The thing to remember here is that a system that will run WoW will not provide the same enjoyment as a system that runs it well.

Let's look at Blizzard's minimum and recommended system requirements for Wrath of the Lich King-era play.

PC System Requirements
OS
Windows XP / Windows Vista (with latest Service Packs)

Processor
Minimum: Intel Pentium 4 1.3 GHz or AMD Athlon XP 1500+
Recommended: Dual-core processor, such as the Intel Pentium D or AMD Athlon 64 X2

Memory
Minimum: 512 MB RAM (1GB for Vista users)
Recommended: 1 GB RAM (2 GB for Vista users)

Video
Minimum: 3D graphics processor with Hardware Transform and Lighting with 32 MB VRAM, such as an ATI Radeon 7200 or NVIDIA GeForce 2 class card or better
Recommended: 3D graphics processor with Vertex and Pixel Shader capability with 128 MB VRAM, such as an ATI Radeon X1600 or NVIDIA GeForce 7600 GT class card or better

Sound
DirectX-compatible sound card or motherboard sound capability

Mac System Requirements
OS
Mac OS X 10.4.11 or newer

Processor
Minimum: PowerPC G5 1.6 GHz or Intel Core Duo processor
Recommended: Intel 1.8GHz processor or better

Memory
Minimum: 1 GB RAM
Recommended: 2 GB RAM

Video
Minimum: 3D graphics processor with Hardware Transform and Lighting with 64 MB VRAM, such as an ATI Radeon 9600 or NVIDIA GeForce Ti 4600 class card or better
Recommended: 3D graphics processor with Vertex and Pixel Shader capability with 128 MB VRAM, such as an ATI Radeon X1600 or NVIDIA 7600 class card or better

That, right there, is your bottom line. Hit those benchmarks and you should be good to go.


What else will I need to play? Here are the basics:
  • Keyboard
  • Mouse; multiple buttons and a scroll wheel are recommended.
  • Other input devices, including joysticks and gamepads, are possible but not supported for use.
  • Broadband Internet connection; dialup play at 56.6k or better is technically possible, but no sane person would recommend it.
  • 15 GB of free space on your hard drive.
  • 3D graphics card; see Blizzard's list of supported video cards.
  • Headset with microphone; while completely optional, you'll probably want one for playing in groups with other players.
If my system can handle original WoW or The Burning Crusade, does that mean I'm good to go? Unfortunately, no. System requirements for Wrath of the Lich King, while much more forgiving than those of many other popular MMO games, are tougher than those for early WoW. Published "minimum requirements" for WoW don't represent absolute limits, so the game may still run – just not very well. A computer that can handle gentle, early solo leveling may bog down when presented with the demands of a busy raid or Battleground, and it's certain that your frame rates will plummet in major cities like Dalaran. If you're struggling with a sub-par system, you'll want to strike a balance between what technically works and what is actually enjoyable.

How can I boost my older system's performance? More RAM is usually the first good solution to bolstering a sagging system. If your system is still struggling after that, look into a new video card. Anything beyond that really points toward a bigger, better computer system. You may get a better feel for things from our post and comments about Wrath hardware requirements.

Can I play on a platform other than PC or Mac? WoW is playable on Linux, although not right out of the box.

WoW Rookie feeds you the basics to get you off to a good start in the World of Warcraft. Find more tools you can use in the WoW Insider Directory and WoW Insider Leveling Guides.

Filed under: Features, WoW Rookie, Hardware

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