A new version of your favorite game has just been released, and you want to know whether your computer has the horsepower to run it.
You can’t get your machine to turn on, so you call the manufacturer’s tech support, and the representative asks what model your device is.
You want to upgrade your PC with more RAM and a new graphics card, but you need to know what DDR and PCIe generation your motherboard supports.
These are only a few situations where you may need to know your computer’s detailed specs.
Your PC displays some details when it boots up, but that’s not enough!
You want to know the exact model and build number of all your components.
Fortunately, you’re in the right place.
This article will tell you how to find the specs of every PC part in your machine, and we’ll discuss which specs matter most.
What Computer Do I Have? (How To Check Model & Specs)
System Settings is the easiest way to check your computer’s model and specs in Windows 10.
- Type in Settings in the Start Menu and hit Enter.
- Click System.
- On the left-hand sidebar, scroll down and select About.
Under Device specifications, you can view the system model, processor (CPU), and RAM.
The built-in System Information utility is your next choice if you’re looking for more information or are using an older Windows version.
Type in System Information in your Start Menu and click on System Summary.
Alternatively, navigate to Control Panel > System and Security > Administrative Tools > System Information.
Here are the items you should check:
- System Model: Your computer’s model number—mainly useful for laptops and OEM pre-assembled PCs.
- System Type: The CPU architecture your system uses.
- CPU: The generation and type of CPU installed in your computer.
- BIOS version: The version of the software that runs the bootup sequence on your machine before the operating system takes over.
- Baseboard Manufacturer: The company that manufactured your motherboard.
- Baseboard Product: Your motherboard’s model.
- Installed Physical Memory: The amount of RAM in your computer.
- Total Physical Memory: The amount of accessible RAM in your computer.
If you prefer using the command line instead of a graphical user interface, you can use the wmic command with the same values in the System Information utility.
For example, if to check your CPU’s model number, type in the following line in your command line:
wmic cpu get name
For your BIOS version, you can run this command:
wmic bios get version
The WMIC (Windows Management Interface Command-line) utility is a powerful tool that lets you manage your hardware.
Microsoft decided to replace the WMIC with a PowerShell alternative near the end of 2021.
1. Find Your Computer Model Using PowerShell
You can think of PowerShell as the traditional Windows command line on steroids.
Instead of single commands, PowerShell uses cmdlets (short for command-lets), small scripts that run multiple commands in sequence.
Working with PowerShell is slightly different from the command prompt as it involves a few changes in the syntax.
To open PowerShell, search for it in your Start Menu and hit Enter.
Once the window opens, type in the following command to get your computer’s Windows details:
Get-CimInstance -Class Win32_OperatingSystem
And here’s how you can see the BIOS details:
Get-CimInstance -Class Win32_BIOS
2. Find Your Computer Specs Using Third-Party Tools
Although Windows features multiple tools to identify your system specs, it’s limited in what it can offer.
Here are the top two recommendations for users who need more details.
CPU-Z is a lightweight free utility that gathers detailed information on your computer’s main components.
It tells you the exact model and specifications of your CPU, graphics card, RAM, and motherboard in separate tabs.
You can download and install CPU-Z on your system or use the portable version.
HWiNFO is another excellent option we recommend to more advanced users.
It’s a full-fledged hardware monitoring tool that gives you comprehensive information about all your hardware.
How To Find Your Laptop Model
You probably know your laptop’s brand and series number (e.g., Lenovo Ideapad 5), but sometimes you need to know the exact model number.
For example, you may need to find a replacement component for your laptop.
Fortunately, you don’t need to open your laptop to find the model number.
The first place to look for your model number is on the back of the device or the palm rest.
There should be a sticker that features your brand, series, and model number next to each other.
If the sticker is missing or too worn, you can still find your laptop’s model number via the BIOS.
Follow these instructions:
- Turn off your computer.
- Press the power button to turn it on.
- Immediately press the BIOS key to enter the BIOS utility. Different brands use Esc, Del, F2, F10, or F12 as the BIOS key.
- Continue pressing the BIOS key until you see the BIOS utility.
- Under the Information tab, locate your Product Name.
Key Computer Specs And How To Check Them
If you’ve ever looked into building your own PC, you’ll know that computer specs can be incredibly complicated.
Most regular users don’t know which specs to base their decisions on and which ones to ignore.
Therefore, we’ve gathered a list of the most important items you should consider.
We’ll also tell you how to check them on your current computer.
The Central Processing Unit (CPU) is the brain of your computer.
It performs the calculations that allow your computer to run and do things.
Intel and AMD are the two largest CPU manufacturers worldwide and offer competing products.
Intel’s latest products are their 12th generation lineup of Core i3, i5, i7, and i9 processors.
The model numbers for these chips start with 12, followed by three digits and one or two letters.
For example, the 12300K is a Core i3 chip with overclocking capability, while the 12600H is a Core i5 processor for laptops.
AMD’s latest lineup is based on the Zen 3 architecture and includes Ryzen 3, Ryzen 5, Ryzen 7, and Ryzen 9 chips.
Ryzen 3 processors usually perform similarly to an Intel Core i3, while Ryzen 5 and Ryzen 7 compete with Core i5 and Core i7s, respectively.
However, most benchmarks indicate that AMD chips offer better performance than their Intel counterparts in recent years.
The newest AMD model numbers are four-digit numbers that start with 5, and there may be a letter at the end.
For example, the 5950X is AMD’s top-of-the-line Ryzen 9 CPU, while the 5300U is a Ryzen 3 made specifically for laptops.
The manufacturer is probably the most important detail you need to know about a CPU because each company’s product requires a different motherboard.
Now, let’s consider the critical specs of a CPU on top of the manufacturer.
A. Clock Speed
Clock speed represents the number of instructions a CPU can execute in one second, and it’s usually measured in gigahertz.
For example, a 3 GHz CPU can execute three billion instructions in one second.
You can increase the speed by overclocking your CPU, but your CPU and motherboard must support this.
Overclocking increases the voltage to the CPU, allowing it to operate at higher frequencies.
AMD’s chips are all overclockable (aka unlocked), but only the models that end in K or KF support overclocking among Intel’s products.
When considering a CPU’s clock speed, pay attention to its normal and max values.
The max value (aka turbo speed) is the frequency you can achieve after overclocking your CPU.
Clock speed is usually a decent measure of a CPU’s performance, and larger values indicate better performance.
However, many other variables impact a processor’s performance, so
you shouldn’t pay attention to clock speed alone.
B. Core Count
The physical CPU chip you hold in your hands consists of multiple individual CPUs known as cores.
This multi-core architecture allows your computer to run multiple tasks in parallel and get more done in a shorter amount of time.
Current consumer-grade CPUs feature four, six, or eight cores, with more high-end options even going up to 16 cores.
Moreover, each physical core usually consists of two logical cores, also known as threads.
A Hexa-core CPU can run 12 parallel tasks because it has six cores and 12 threads.
A cache is a form of temporary storage that holds the most recent data your CPU accessed.
It operates on the same principles as your RAM, but its circuitry is on the physical CPU chip, so it’s very fast.
However, it’s very limited in size, ranging from 4 to 12 MB in level 1 cache.
CPUs usually have three levels of cache, but the average user doesn’t even need to know the L1 value.
That’s because cache size only affects performance in complex situations such as engineering simulations where multiple operations are repeated many times.
How To Check
Windows 10 doesn’t have a utility to display all your CPU specs.
You can find your CPU’s model using one of the methods we explained at the beginning of the article.
Then, you can Google the model to find its spec sheet.
Alternatively, you can use CPU-Z or HWiNFO.
2. Graphics Card
If you’re an avid gamer, you know the critical role of a powerful graphics card.
It’s the component that renders all those detailed scenes in your favorite games and lets you enjoy smooth 60 FPS gameplay.
Before we get into the details, we need to distinguish between GPUs and graphics cards since many people use them interchangeably.
It doesn’t make much of a difference in many contexts.
The GPU is the chip that performs the instructions and renders the frames, whereas the graphics card is the physical component you install on your motherboard.
The GPU market has two giant players that dominate the market: Nvidia and AMD.
On the other hand, many OEMs, such as Asus and Gigabyte, license those GPUs and build their own graphics cards with different features.
Two Nvidia RTX 3060 graphics cards from Asus and Gigabyte may use the same chip and perform similarly.
However, they come with entirely different physical designs, cooling solutions, and extra features.
For example, one may feature three fans and be overclockable, while the other only has two fans and can’t be overclocked.
In addition to the GPU model, the video RAM capacity of your graphics card determines its performance more than any other spec.
How To Check
The Windows System Information utility shows your GPU model under Components > Display.
However, to check the amount of VRAM on your card, you need a third-party tool like CPU-Z.
For the most detailed information, including the graphics card model, we recommend HWiNFO.
Note that your CPU may also have an integrated GPU, which shows up in all these tools.
The motherboard is the platform that connects all your hardware and allows them to collaborate.
It also determines what kinds of peripherals you can connect to your computer and how many.
The number and generations of USB devices, RAM modules, and PCIe expansion cards in your computer all depend on your motherboard.
Most importantly, however, the motherboard determines your chipset, the communication hub that relays messages between the CPU and all the other components in your system.
As mentioned, you need a compatible CPU-motherboard combination.
How To Check
Check your motherboard’s model using the System Information utility.
Then Google the model number to find the motherboard’s spec sheet, which should include a list of all the ports and slots as well as the chipset model and operating frequency.
However, if you want to skip that step, use HWiNFO.
Random Access Memory (RAM) is a type of high-speed temporary storage for maintaining all the information needed to keep your computer running.
Programs, games, and the operating system keep their critical data on RAM so they can access it quickly.
For example, when you’re playing a video game, the game’s engine keeps a list of all the information it needs to render the game’s universe on your RAM.
As you progress through the game, it quickly retrieves the information and sends it to the CPU and GPU.
If you don’t have enough RAM, the engine has to store that information on your hard drive, which is significantly slower.
Like any other component, RAM specs can be confusing, but the most important ones for regular users are DDR generation and capacity.
A. DDR Generation
So far, we’ve had five generations of the double data rate (DDR) memory technology, none of which are cross-compatible.
Each generation offers higher frequencies and better speeds.
At the time of this writing, DDR5 is becoming the most common technology, with DDR4 and DDR3 gradually disappearing.
As a rule of thumb, you need at least 8 GB of RAM to run Windows 10 smoothly.
You can get away with 4 GB, but the OS will eat up almost 3 GB on its own, leaving you with almost no RAM to open any program.
If you can afford it, 16 GB is the sweet spot at the moment.
Also, the best approach is to have your memory in dual-channel—for example, two 4 GB sticks instead of one 8 GB module.
Dual-channel offers a significant performance boost, especially with DDR4.
As DDR5 is designed to somehow run in dual-channel mode on its own, it won’t enjoy as big a boost as its predecessors.
The frequency or clock rate determines how many signals your RAM can send or receive each second.
It’s a measure of your RAM’s speed.
Since DDR transmits data on both signal edges, a 3200 MHz DDR4 stick can transfer over 25 GB of data per second.
RAM frequency only becomes important if you want to overclock your CPU and want your RAM to keep up.
If you look at a RAM stick, you’ll see four numbers like 9-9-9-24.
These highly-technical specs indicate how many clock cycles it takes your CPU to locate a piece of data on a RAM cell and retrieve it.
Smaller numbers are usually better.
How To Check
Windows 10 lets you see your RAM details in the Task Manager under the Performance > Memory.
You can check:
- DDR generation (see the top right corner next to the total capacity).
- Total installed RAM.
- Slots used (dual vs. single-channel).
- Frequency or speed.
If you want to know your RAM’s manufacturer, run the following command in cmd:
wmic memorychip get devicelocator, manufacturer
However, there’s no built-in utility that displays your RAM timings.
To check those numbers, we recommend CPU-Z.
These days, permanent storage comes in two varieties: hard drives and SSDs.
Hard drives are best for bulk storage on the cheap, while SSDs offer the best value when used as your boot drive.
Other than capacity, RPM is the most important spec on a hard drive.
The number indicates how many times the disk rotates per minute.
The most common values are 5,400 and 7,200, with the latter being faster.
SSDs are slightly more complicated.
You can choose between regular 2.5-inch drives and M.2 NVME drives mounted on your motherboard, provided the motherboard comes with the appropriate slots.
NVME drives are more expensive but faster and smaller.
All SSDs offer extremely high transfer rates, but you need to consider their durability.
These drives tend to wear out after a specific number of write cycles.
Manufacturers guarantee their drives up to a specific number of terabytes written (TBW), which you should check on the product’s spec sheet.
When reading the spec sheet, also see if the drive has a DRAM cache.
DRAMless SSDs are considerably cheaper, but they’re also much slower and may cause stability issues down the line.
How To Check
Windows gives you detailed information about all your storage drives using the System Information utility.
Open the utility by pressing the Windows Key + R and typing in msinfo32.
Then navigate to Components > Storage > Disks.
If you need more information, such as the TBW value, Google the drive’s model and download its spec sheet.