If you want to check how powerful your current computer is or learn the details of a specific component to upgrade it, you will need to know how to find and understand the details of your system.
There are many ways to learn what kind of computer you have. You can find the specs using built-in Windows utilities such as Task Manager and third-party utilities like CPU-Z.
However, it is one thing to know your specs and another to understand what the specs mean. To understand your PC’s power or what kind of component you can upgrade, you must learn what the specs mean.
In the following text, I will talk about simple methods to check what kind of PC you have and the details of each component.
Checking What Kind of Computer I Have?
While there are countless ways to check the specs of your PC, I will cover two straightforward methods below:
- Using the Task Manager
- Using CPU-Z
1. Using Task Manager to Check The Specs
Task Manager is the most accessible utility you can use to get a clear picture of what kind of computer you have.
You can access Task Manager by pressing the CTRL+ALT+DEL keys or by right-clicking on the Task Bar and selecting Task Manager from the Menu:
Once the Task Manager opens, head to the “Performance” Tab above.
In the Performance tab, you will see a separate button for each core component in your PC.
Selecting the different buttons for each component on the Left-Hand side can give an in-depth look into the selected pieces. Let us discuss each:
CPU is the main component that defines your PC’s overall performance and directly relates to what features the PC can be occupied with.
There are two popular CPU brands, namely Intel and AMD. The PC above has an Intel 11th Core i7-11800H CPU.
CPUs series follow a certain hierarchy such as that:
- Intel Pentium / AMD Athlon is the WEAKEST
- Intel Core i3 / AMD Ryzen 3
- Intel Core i5 / AMD Ryzen 5
- Intel Core i7 / AMD Ryzen 7
- Intel Core i9 / AMD Ryzen 9 are the STRONGEST
Now each series of CPUs is further defined by their generation. Each newer CPU generation is about 20-25% more potent than the previous generation (if you consider the flagship or top-of-the-line CPU).
You can generally tell what CPU you have by looking at the numbers and prefixes in the model number. In Intel Core i7-11800H, the first two letters define the generation, 800 is the SKU number, and the final Prefix H means it is a high-performance CPU for LAPTOPs.
The following is Intel’s list of prefixes and what they entail:
Another vital spec you can learn is your CPU’s number of cores and threads (logical processors).
My CPU above has eight cores and 16 threads. The number of cores is essential for learning how well your PC can multitask. A higher number of cores generally means a better processor.
And finally, Task Manager shows the rated BASE clock speed of the CPU (2.30 GHz per core) and its current utilization in the shape of a neat graph.
Moving on to the RAM, the Task Manager needs memory specs since it DOES NOT tell you what RAM type you have.
While it tells you its specs and capacity, it does NOT mean whether it belongs to DDR1, DDR2, DDR3, DDR4, or DDR5.
While adept users can tell from the speed of the RAM stick that the RAM installed is MOST likely DDR4, that is NOT a definitive answer since even DDR3 RAM can be clocked at 3200MHz.
And when upgrading, you have to ensure you get the right type since DDR sticks are NOT backward or forward-compatible. You cannot plug DDR3 RAM into a DDR4 motherboard or vice versa.
To find the definitive answer about the RAM type, I recommend CPU-Z (more on this below).
I am moving on to storage. Task Manager can show you the details regarding each installed hard drive on your PC.
I have two hard drives installed. The following shows the details of one of the hard drives:
The limitation is that it DOES NOT tell me the generation of the installed NVMe SSD. If you want to find out what age the SSD belongs to, i.e., Gen3, Gen4, I recommend searching the disk online.
I can see that the PC above has the Western Digital WDC WDS100T2B0C hard drive. Searching this online would tell me this is a Gen3 SSD with a 1 TB capacity.
Finally, you can learn about the details of the Graphics Card from their respective buttons.
If your computer has an integrated AND a dedicated graphics card, you will see two different buttons belonging to each:
The PC above has the following:
- Intel UHD Integrated graphics
- NVIDIA RTX 3070 dedicated graphics card
The integrated graphics card is far weaker than the dedicated graphics card. The integrated graphics card powers the basic tasks. The dedicated graphics card kicks in when graphic intensive and heavier tasks such as gaming or editing are performed.
This helps in conserving the battery on the laptop. Integrated GPU uses less power as compared to dedicated GPU.
You do need to have a dedicated graphics card on your PC. Integrated graphics is more than sufficient for average systems.
2. Using CPU-Z to Find Out What PC You Have
While the Task Manager is an excellent built-in utility, it is limited in what details it can provide.
The Task Manager does miss out on some of the more critical specs, including:
- Motherboard Make and Model
- CPU Socket
- PCIe Generation
- RAM Type and Its Channel
CPU-Z is a free third-party utility that can be used to find comprehensive information regarding your system’s specs. This is an industry standard for finding your PC’s specs.
After downloading and running it, you will see several tabs for different components:
From the CPU tab, you can find out not just the model number, core count, and frequency but also the socket type and the TDP of the CPU:
The package field tells you the socket number. This CPU has Socket 1787 and is of FCBGA type.
The socket is a critical parameter PARTICULAR if you want to upgrade your CPU. While laptop CPUs cannot be upgraded, desktops CPU can, and you need to know the socket type.
The socket identifies the CPU’s number of pins (1787) and whether it will physically plug into your motherboard.
If you wish to upgrade your CPU, its socket type must match the one installed on your PC. Otherwise, you will need to change the entire motherboard.
For instance, a CPU with an LGA1200 socket type will NOT be compatible with LGA1700 motherboards and vice versa.
The TDP is an important parameter, particularly for PC builders, as it defines the cooling solution the CPU requires.
The motherboard TAB in CPU-Z shows many essential details, such as the make and model (MSI-1581) and the bus interface version.
This motherboard is based on the PCIe V 4.0 interface. The version of the PCIe interface identifies what generation of components the PC can handle, i.e., whether it can take Gen 4 SSDs or not.
This tab also shows you the chipset model (HM570), which can further be used to learn about the PCIe Lane details and what kind of sub-components this chipset can feature, such as the WiFi Version, the number of USB ports, and their version.
And finally, it shows you the BIOS version. The BIOS version is essential, particularly for overclockers and those who wish to roll back their BIOS to the vanilla version anytime.
The RAM details in CPU-Z succeed where the Task Manager failed.
In addition to the size, CPU-Z tells you the RAM type, i.e., DDR4, which is essential information should you wish to upgrade or buy a new RAM stick.
It also tells whether the RAM sticks work in dual or single channels.
Single works in single-channel mode. However, if you have two RAM sticks, they must work dual-channel to get the best out of your system.
You can easily find precisely what PC you have used, a combination of Task Manager and CPU-Z.
But of course, to figure out precisely what kind of computer you have in terms of overall performance, you will need to know where each component stands. You can use benchmarks for these, such as PassMark, Cinebench, Geekbench, etc.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Can I determine the age of my computer based on its specifications or model number, and how accurate is this information?
It is possible to estimate the age of a computer based on its specifications or model number, but the accuracy of this information may vary.
Some manufacturers include the manufacture date in the model number or serial number, while others may not.
Additionally, the age of the computer may not necessarily reflect the age of individual components, which may have been replaced or upgraded over time.
2. Can I upgrade or replace components in my computer without knowing the exact model or specifications, and what precautions should I take to ensure compatibility?
Upgrading or replacing components in a computer without knowing the exact model or specifications can be challenging, as it may be difficult to ensure compatibility with existing components.
Before making any changes, it is important to research the compatibility of the components, including the processor, RAM, and storage devices.
In addition, it is recommended to consult the manufacturer’s documentation or seek professional advice to ensure that any upgrades or replacements will not cause damage to the system.
3. Are there any software programs or tools that can automatically detect the type and model of my computer, and how reliable are these methods?
Yes, there are software programs and tools that can automatically detect the type and model of a computer, such as system information utilities or diagnostic tools.
However, the reliability of these methods may vary depending on the accuracy of the information provided by the manufacturer or stored in the system. It is recommended to use multiple sources to confirm the information and ensure accuracy.
4. What should I do if I am unable to determine the model or specifications of my computer, such as if the label is missing or the system properties do not provide enough information?
If you are unable to determine the model or specifications of your computer, there are several steps you can take.
First, try searching for the manufacturer’s documentation or support resources, which may include information on identifying the model based on physical features or serial numbers.
You can also try contacting the manufacturer or a professional technician for assistance.
Additionally, you may be able to identify the individual components and use this information to estimate the system specifications.