The Hidden Costs Behind PC Games
Your kid wants a new game. Make sure you won't have to buy an upgrade in order to play it.
By Wilson Rothman

(MONEY Magazine) – • CHECK SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS Graphics on PC games can be stunning, but it takes a powerful computer to support them. System requirements are usually displayed on the game box; the most important of these is the graphics card. If you have as much or more graphics-card memory as the requirements suggest, you're safe. Also note the card's manufacturer (ATI and NVIDIA are the biggest) to make sure the game is compatible. To find out which card your PC has:

1 Right-click anywhere on your desktop and select Properties.

2 Click the Settings tab, then click Advanced.

3 Under the tab labeled Adapter, you'll see the type of graphics card you have along with the card's memory size.

• CONSIDER AN UPGRADE If you find your computer is graphics challenged, installing a new card is not the answer. You could end up seriously damaging your computer if you're not a tech wizard. If your machine can't support today's games it might be a sign that you need a more powerful computer, the benefits of which go far beyond letting your child play video football. --WILSON ROTHMAN