Author Topic: Buying a Computer For The Sims 4 and The Sims 3  (Read 248338 times)

Offline Flynn Arrowstarr

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Buying a Computer For The Sims 4 and The Sims 3
« on: September 20, 2014, 05:58:14 PM »
Updated Mar. 2021 (Part One - Updated)

We've combined our "Buying Guide" for Sims 4 and 3 into one post.

This post is being split into two parts. Part one is the quick look at what we recommend and why. Part two goes into more technical depth for those interested in the guts of their computers. :)

Please either pm us, or post a New Topic in Technical Help, linked here if you have any questions.

Part One: The Overview

What we recommend.

While we’ll be going more in-depth on what to look for in the second part, here’s what we recommend as a baseline for running the games and all additional packs well:

Windows 10 or Mac with macOS Sierra (or newer).

Desktop Specs:

Processor: Intel I5 or I7 or Ryzen 5 or 7 3000 Series
Video Card: Nvidia GTX 1050, 1050 ti, or 1060 / AMD RX 480 or 580
Ram: 8 to 16 GB System Memory
Hard Drive Space: 256GB SSD + 1TB HDD (2 separate drives - For Windows and games, plus a data drive for game saves, mods, custom content, etc.
Windows 64 bit

Laptop Specs:

Processor : i5 or i7 H
Video card : Nvidia GTX 1060 6GB or better
computer ram 8GB
hard drive space at least 500 GB
windows 64 bit

We do not recommend a laptop that has a 256 GB SSD only, as that size is too small to hold the game, plus Windows and other various programs you might want on your computer.

Processor Intel i5 or i7 quad core which will end in H after the series number.

For laptops - a cooling mat (even if the laptop will be used on a desk).

Why we recommend these specs.

When someone asks for recommendations for a computer, we try our best to find the best computer within the person's budget. We look at it as if we were buying the computer ourselves, balanced with what the person wants from the system.

Would we play Sims with this and would it run smoothly no matter the settings?

We try to aim for a better gaming experience overall: meaning less crashing, lag, slow loading and other headaches that drag the experience down. Keep a realistic budget in mind: About $700 - $1,300 USD for a desktop and $1,000 - $1,500 for a laptop.

What we DON'T recommend.
  • Tablets are a no-no, they don't have adequate cooling and are not designed to run 3d games at all. A lot of damage could be done to a tablet if trying to run graphic/cpu intense games on it.
  • Chromebooks are not made for installing big programs, nor gaming. - Think of them as a smart phone that are the size of a laptop that might play phone games.
  • Ultrabook laptops; lower-end iMac, MacBook, or Windows computers; netbooks; all-in-one computers.
  • Why: These systems use either ultra low-voltage (U or ULV) processors or only have integrated graphics processors with no separate graphics memory. Gaming performance is extremely limited on these systems.
  • Laptops or desktops with only integrated graphics - for example Intel HD.
  • Why: While some of these may have gaming features, the graphics memory has to come from the computer. Computer memory is generally much slower than dedicated graphics memory, resulting in more lag and stuttering while playing the game. Also, some Intel HD series chips have known issues when playing The Sims 3 and 4.

EA gives a 24 hour trial for the base game. They do not offer refunds on add-ons to this game if your computer can't run it.

Which Version of Windows?​

Windows 10 is the current version of Windows available from Microsoft. It is increasingly difficult to find new systems with Windows 7 or Windows 8 pre-installed, and some of the newest processors won't even recognize any version other than Windows 10.

As we've said before, there are programs that make Windows 10 look and act more like Windows 7. With the strength of most computers on the market these days, there's very little performance impact running some of these programs as there was even a couple of years ago.

My computer is a Mac. What do I need?

While we're not as familiar with the Mac ecosystem, the games do run on Apple systems. The specifications are about the same as they are for Windows. You need to be running Mac OS/X 10.7.5 (Lion) or better - Mac OS/X 10.9 (Mavericks) or better is recommended.

Dedicated graphics cards are available for some Mac models but are not commonly included in iMac or MacBook models. Most seem to be using the AMD R9 M370X or R9 M380X graphics cards with 2 GB of GDDR5 memory. This should run either game with little trouble (some adjustments may be necessary).

For more information on running The Sims on a Mac, please see BlueBellFlora's website. She is an avid Mac Sims player and has a number of posts on her site and on EA's Answers HQ's Mac Board assisting Mac players.

My game runs slow and I have a powerful computer. Help?

Please see the recommendations above and make sure your system meets at least the those requirements. Check the topics in the The Sims 4 Technical Help and The Sims 3 Technical Help boards for more assistance. If you don't see an answer to your issue, feel free to post in the Technical Help sections or PM us and we'll help you out the best we can.

Continued in the next post.
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Offline Flynn Arrowstarr

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Buying a Computer For The Sims 3 & The Sims 4
« Reply #1 on: October 18, 2015, 08:03:37 PM »
Part Two: The Tech-Tech


This section will detail the various components in your computer. While we've written this section to appeal more towards people wanting to build their own systems, people just wanting to buy an "off the shelf" system from Dell or HP (for example) can learn more about their systems and what to look for.

Processor: When you're looking at the specifications of your potential computer, look for a system with about a 2.5 GHz dual-core processor or faster.

Processors to avoid are Pentium, Celeron and Xeon processors on the Intel side - Pentium and Celeron branded processors are typically very low-voltage and low speed single-core and dual-core processors unsuitable for gaming in general. Xeon processors are server-grade processors and - while very powerful - generally lack the multimedia extensions needed for gaming. We would recommend chips from the Core i5 and Core i7 family.

On the AMD side, the recommended spec is an AMD FX series processor. As with the Intel chips, look for a clock speed of about 2.5 GHz for good performance at high settings. Avoid the FX-4300 processor, however, as it is not a good processor for games.

For more information on processors, look at sites such as Tom's Hardware for reviews and other information.

Graphics Card: When looking at a graphics card, look for at least 1 GB of GDDR5 memory. GDDR5 memory is the fastest memory available for graphics cards at this time and helps games perform smoothly. Other types of memory include DDR3, but these types of memory perform slower.

nVidia or AMD is still a matter of preference as both perform well in this area. For nVidia, the new GTX 1050 Ti and GTX 1060 cards offer excellent performance for the price. For AMD, the Radeon RX 460 and RX 480 are similar to the GTX cards above - and even slightly better in some aspects - at the cost of using more power.

System RAM: Once again, look at a minimum of 8 GB DDR3 or DDR 4 memory - depending on your processor. Just about every Windows system - and every Mac system - is sold with the 64-bit version of their operating system installed. The more the better, but 8 GB should give you solid performance in the games.

Power Supply: Having an inadequate or cheaply built power supply can drag system performance down and physically damage your computer. There are a number of sites online that can help you calculate how many watts your system needs at minimum to perform well - such as the Cooler Master Power Supply Calculator. Then get a power supply that provides at least that much and 200 - 300 watts above. E.g. your components draw 400 watts, look at a 750 watt power supply.

Storage: A decent sized Solid State drive (SSD) for the system with a high-capacity traditional hard drive for software and data storage is the recommended setup. SSD prices have dropped quite a bit over the past few years and even the so-called "budget" drives offer reliable and fast performance. E.g. 256GB SSD for the system drive and a 1TB - 2TB hard drive for applications and data.

Cooling System/Case: A case with good air-flow is a must. Overheating components can lead to system performance problems and can eventually damage the computer's vital systems.

Looking in the Build Your Own section of Tom's Hardware Guide can help you figure out what to look for when buying a computer. ?Another great source of information is the Ars System Guide, VR edition: Cheap VR, great VR, and optional 4k craziness (Ars from March 2016 for some great system recommendations at different budgets.


We tend to recommend gaming laptops to get the most out of The Sims games. While there are some great mid-range entertainment laptops available, the systems generally don't have the power needed to run the games as well. There are some things to look out for, which will be noted below. For the most part, though, the same things to look for in a desktop apply to a laptop.

Processor: As with the desktop, look for an AMD or Intel processor with 2 or 4 cores and about a 2.5 GHz clock speed. Look for an HQ or MQ suffix (e.g. Core i7 6700HQ) on Intel processors for example. Avoid any processor that is marketed as Ultra Low Voltage (U or ULV) as they can lack the power and often the clock speed necessary for gaming. Other processors to avoid are AMD APU processors and Intel Atom processors. For the most part, avoid netbooks and Ultrabooks as these systems use the ULV processors. Low-end entertainment laptops also use these chips.

Graphics: Like before, look for 1 GB of dedicated or discreet memory. You do not want a laptop that relies solely on shared memory. For nVidia, the GTX 900m series and the GTX 1000 series cards are the current gaming cards. For AMD, the R7 and R9 series are good candidates. Most laptops in the less expensive range use DDR3 memory for graphics, which is slower than GDDR5. The good news is graphics chips with GDDR5 memory are becoming easier to find in less expensive gaming systems.

Avoid laptops with either Intel HD or AMD HD Radeon G graphics as the only graphics card. These denote on-processor graphics chips and rarely perform well with games such as The Sims 3 and The Sims 4. This is due to a lack of any dedicated graphics memory (or an extremely limited amount), requiring the graphics system to use your computer's memory. This prevents Windows or Mac OS from using that same memory for running your applications.

Memory: As with desktops, 8 GB minimum.

Storage: Most gaming laptops these days come with a similar setup as the desktop recommendation above - a smaller capacity SSD for the operating system and a larger traditional hard drive for applications. The SSD are now typically m.2 SATA drives, which can be pretty fast when compared to other SSD.

If you can't find a laptop in your price range that supports dual drives, try to get the largest size SSD your budget will allow. It will help with loading times and overall system speed.

Cooling: Games make the processor and the graphics system run hot. Especially in a laptop with limited space in the shell. Make sure the laptop has a good vent on the side and definitely buy a cooling mat for gaming at your desk. When buying a cooling mat, consider where the exhaust vent is on your laptop. If it's on the side, buy a cooling mat that is more open in the back. If the vent is on the back, buy a cooling mat with more open sides. The last thing you want is your laptop to overheat because your mat is pulling in the air your laptop just exhaled.

Display: Pick a size and resolution combination you're comfortable with. Most entertainment laptops come with a 15.6 or 17.3 inch screen (measured diagonally). Minimum resolution should be 1366 x 768. Other common laptop resolutions include 1440 x 900, 1600 x 900 and 1920 x 1080.

One resource we use heavily when researching laptops is The site reviews a number of laptops in multiple configurations, but also includes a rather extensive database of processors and graphics chips used in laptops. Typically, if you go to Google and type in something like nVidia GT 750M Review, the first link will be for NotebookCheck's review of that graphics chip.

We will be revisiting this as computer hardware continues to evolve. Please let us know if you have any questions.

Hope this helps and happy Simming! :)

Flynn & MrsFlynn
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