By Eugene Tyson (AKA Smurf)
Graphic Designer and Computer Enthusiast
Should you decide to invest in a new computer to play your favourite game, and you’re not sure what you should be looking for, it can be confusing.
And I say ‘invest’ because that’s what it should be, an investment. It should be something that lasts for at least 4-6 years. I’ve always bought a laptop or a computer, for about £1,000, that doesn’t need replacing for over 7-10 years. It can be expensive but you can work it out as buying a cup of coffee every day over one year. But not everyone has this kind of ready cash to spend. Here’s how to spot that dream laptop that fulfils all your needs.
For the purpose of this guide I’m going to stick with the Windows-based computer system, as it’s my opinion that most people use it, and of course it is far cheaper than a Mac, and a Linux system is rare to find online through a normal store.
Just because it’s not as expensive as a Mac, it doesn’t mean a Windows computer won’t be as good. I often find Macs to be severely underpowered for the price. Another downside of a Mac is the processor can get really hot which is not good news for Football Manager fans. We’ll talk about processors and how heat can affect the speed of the game later.
Here’s a brief guide on how to start looking for your next investment, and the more you spend, the more you save over the years.
Football Manager minimum specifications
These are guidelines by the manufacturers of the game which outline the bare minimum requirements to run Football Manager.
Operating System: Windows Vista 7/8/8.1/10 – 64-bit or 32-bit
Processor: Intel Pentium 4, Intel Core or AMD Athlon – 2.2 GHz or higher
Graphics Card: Intel GMA X3100, NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT or AMD/ATI Mobility Radeon HD 2400 – 256MB VRAM Misc: Direct X Version 9.0c,
RAM: 2 GB RAM
Hard Disk: 3 GB Available Space
What is the most you can spend on your new computer? Remember, it should be an investment.
- If you’re looking to play 10 leagues with all divisions and 3D matches, with a career that spans 50 years, then a budget of £300 won’t cut it.
- Similarly – if you’re only playing a career with three leagues and top divisions for 10 years – then spending £2,000 is crazy.
Figure out what you want from Football Manager. Then SAVE for it.
Most of the time £600 is more than enough to get a decent laptop that will run lots of leagues/divisions on a large database and using 3D graphics.
Remember – if you don’t play 3D matches, then you can cut out that part when buying, and put the extra cash towards a better processor!
And similarly, if you only load a few leagues/divisions with a small database, but love 3D graphics – you can cut back on the processor and get a sweet graphics card.
Laptop parts – what’s essential for Football Manager?
Football Manager relies heavily on processing. Remember, it’s a data-driven game, so all those stats, figures, names, etc are data which must be processed.
Let’s go back to the minimum specifications as earlier talked about.
- Intel Pentium 4, Intel Core or AMD Athlon – 2 GHz or higher
This is the information relating to the processor. The important thing here is that it’s noted as being 2.2GHz or higher.
Above, it mentions two types of processors – different manufactures – Intel and AMD.
To check the processor for its actual functionality, Intel have a great site called https://ark.intel.com/
Here, you can search for any intel processor and it will give you a breakdown of the information relating to it.
Here’s an example:
Above, I’ve highlighted the key areas to look for in terms of processor speed. Its base frequency is 1.7ghz and its turbo frequency is 2.70 ghz. This processor would not be a good fit for Football Manager as the minimum specifications state that 2.20 ghz is required.
With Football Manager, the processor tends to get hot, and as a failsafe in the design, the processor can reduce its speed or even shut down. When the processor gets hot and slows down it’s unlikely to be fast enough to maintain a speed over 2.2 ghz.
AMD don’t have a site that I can find or found useful – instead you can check if an AMD processor is up to scratch at www.notebookcheck.net.
This seems to have adequate speed to run Football Manager – at 2.2-2.5 ghz – it meets the minimum specifications.
Most computers sold today are running 64 bit, vs 32 bit, which is fine and we’re not going to get into that. The good news is that with 64 bit you’re no longer limited to 4 GB RAM. In fact, if you’re purchasing a computer with Windows 64 bit installed, I would always recommend at least 8 GB RAM.
Going back to the minimum specifications, as pointed out earlier – specifically ‘2 GB RAM’ – that’s awfully misleading to the general public. You would think that just saving on RAM alone and getting 2 GB RAM in your computer you’ll save a few bucks! You’d be wrong. Windows 64 bit requires 2 GB RAM to run on its own, plus Football Manager would require 2 GB RAM, which equals 4 GB RAM.
If you’ve bought a laptop with 2 or 4 GB RAM, all the RAM is being used by just these two programmes – to make it simple to the average reader here. It’s not entirely accurate but it’s simplified.
Ensure you get minimum 8 GB RAM
For this reason – I’d recommend 8 GB RAM minimum. If you can afford more, then get it. But for Football Manager you won’t need any more than 8 GB RAM, generally.
Do you play matches in 3D? Then you’ll want to find a decent graphics card to view the matches in 3D smoothly. If you don’t and only play in 2D – then most processors come with an onboard graphics processor that will suffice – most are even good enough to play 3D on low level.
Graphic cards come in many different brands and some are better than others. For Football Manager, you don’t really need a top of the range card but if you’re going for longevity then get the best you can afford.
It’s pretty self-explanatory – basically, the higher the number (and in theory the more expensive) the better. A lower number usually means it was released earlier and it’s older technology.
Is it an entry-level, mid-level or high-level graphics card? A handy website to check if the graphics card is sufficient is again www.notebookcheck.net.
Don’t forget – if it says the graphics are integrated – it means it’s built on the processor, which means it doesn’t have a standalone graphics card. Similarly, if it doesn’t state a graphics card at all, it most likely doesn’t have one.
Where to buy
I don’t have a preference for where to buy online. A lot of the time I’ll use www.saveonlaptops.co.uk/laptops when scouting for a laptop for someone – the only reason is the quick and easy navigation on the side of the page to easily find the relevant parts. Plus, at the very bottom, there’s a place to input your price range – which helps narrow down your searches.
Other places in the UK market to buy are Amazon, http://www.laptopoutlet.co.uk/, Very, John Lewis, etc.
If you’re not in the UK perhaps you can email a list and we can add it to the article.
Find more help to buy your next laptop on the Sports Interactive forums: https://community.sigames.com/topic/254890-new-laptoppc-help-needed
And look out for part 2 of Eugene’s Guide to Choosing a Laptop, where he’ll explain how to search for and pinpoint the best laptop for you. Thanks for reading.