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Running Windows Games Smoothly

You want to know if a game is compatible with your PC, how to make it run smoothly, and where to go for more Windows gaming news? We have answers.

Apps in this Guide

Microsoft Windows is one of the most popular platforms in the world for playing video games. However, the sheer variety of Windows PCs, and themore

Microsoft Windows is one of the most popular platforms in the world for playing video games. However, the sheer variety of Windows PCs, and the complexity of Windows itself, can create technical problems and generate a lot of questions about which games you can play.

Figuring out system requirements

As a rule, the games on will list specific requirements, if needed. You will see these listed in the Full Specifications section, which you can expand by clicking on the "+" button along the right-hand side. Within that section, there is a sub-section labeled Additional Requirements. If this entry says "None" next to it, then the requirements are relatively minimal. If such a game runs sluggishly on your computer, it may be time to consider some upgrades.

Figuring out what components are in your computer

While tells you what you need to run a game, it doesn't tell you what you have. For this, you need a utility that will scan your PC and produce a report for you. Speccy is one such program. It will give you the name of your CPU and graphics device, tell you how much system RAM and storage space you have, and more.

Troubleshooting game performance problems

There are several levels of fixes that you can try. One is just to make sure that you don't have resource-hogging programs running in the background. Or if you need more system RAM, you can usually add a stick or two, or replace lower-capacity sticks with higher capacity ones. Windows laptops frequently have a section on the underside where you can access the RAM sticks directly, without having to actually take the machine apart. Laptops aren't designed to let you upgrade the CPU or graphics device.

Where to go to find good games

GameSpot and Giant Bomb are websites that are dedicated to video games. GameSpot has a section dedicated just to Windows games. You can keep track of GameSpot's latest news by following them on Twitter or on Facebook.

Recommended Windows Games




It's impossible to make a list of great puzzlers without mentioning Portal (and its sequel). In these two games, you encounter a series of testing chambers where your goal is simply to find and get through the exit, but the devil is in the details. Even when armed with a gun that can teleport you to spots that would be impossible to reach otherwise, the Portal games will find clever and often deadly ways to challenge your progress -- and you have enough leeway to come up with some inventive solutions. There's also an entertaining story to pull you along from one puzzle to the next.

Age of Empires II HD

Age of Empires II HD


If you yearn for a more conventional RTS game, Age of Empires II HD is one of the best points of reference that you can find. It's not 3D, so it can run on older machines better than any other game on this list. In fact, it's largely the original game, updated to support newer versions of Windows and higher screen resolutions -- although they have improved the intelligence of computer-controlled opponents, integrated the Steam Workshop, upgraded multiplayer to work through Steam, and added Steam Cloud support so that you never lose your saved files. You can pick it up for $20, though it's frequently on sale for less than half that.

The Talos Principle

The Talos Principle


On the surface, The Talos Principle is just a puzzle game about using a combination of differently colored laser beams to unlock doors. But there's an intriguing mystery churning under the surface. Why does this amusement park of puzzles exist? Is there a larger purpose to solving them? Why are you here? The answers have surprising philosophical depth, in a way that makes you think about larger issues about your perception of the world around you and your place in it.