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PC-BSD has moderate hardware requirements and commonly uses less resources than its commercial counterparts. Before installing PC-BSD on your computer, make sure you meet the minimum requirements.
Minimum System Requirements
At a bare minimum, you need to have the following computer hardware in order to install PC-BSD:
- Pentium II or higher
- 512 MB RAM
- 10GB of free hard drive space
- Network card
- Sound card
Recommended System Requirements
The following are the minimum recommended requirements. The faster your computer hardware, the better your computing experience:
- Pentium 4 or higher
- 1024 MB of RAM
- 20GB of free hard drive space (if you will be installing KDE, GNOME, or lots of software)
- Network card
- Sound card
- NVIDIA 3D accelerated video card
You can never have too much RAM, so install as much as you can afford. To play modern video games, you should use a fast CPU. If you want to create a collection of tunes and movies on your computer, you will want a large hard disk drive which can be internal or external.
PC-BSD should install on any system containing a 32-bit (also called i386) or 64-bit (also called amd64) processor. Despite the amd64 name, a 64-bit processor does not need to be manufactured by AMD in order to be supported. The FreeBSD Hardware Notes list the i386 and amd64 processors known to work.
Like most open source operating systems, PC-BSD uses X.org drivers for graphics support. X.org supports many video cards; you can check if your video card is supported at the X.org Drivers page. If you want to use 3D acceleration, NVIDIA is currently the best supported as there is a native driver for PC-BSD. As of 9.1, 3D acceleration on Intel is also supported.
3D acceleration will not work on ATI or Radeon cards until FreeBSD completes its TTM work (possibly for 9.2). You can still use these cards, but you will have to choose the 2D driver, and if that does not work, you will need to resort to using the Vesa driver.
While most hardware "just works" with PC-BSD, it is possible that you'll run across a piece of hardware that does not. If you do, you can help improve hardware support for all PC-BSD users by reporting the problem so that it can be addressed by the developers. It should be remembered that PC-BSD is really FreeBSD, meaning that any hardware that works on FreeBSD will work on PC-BSD.
If you wish to check your hardware before installing PC-BSD, a good place to start is the FreeBSD 9.0 Hardware Notes. Another good resource is to run PC-BSD in Live Mode; that way you can test your various devices before committing to an install.
Currently there are some missing wireless drivers, typically in the Broadcom and newer Realtek series. More information is available on the Wireless Testing page.