Hardware Requirements/9.2

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PC-BSD® has moderate hardware requirements and commonly uses less resources than its commercial counterparts. Before installing PC-BSD®, make sure that your hardware or virtual machine at least meets the minimum requirements. To get the most out of your PC-BSD® experience, refer to the recommended system requirements.


Minimum System Requirements

At a bare minimum, you need to meet these requirements in order to install PC-BSD®:

  • Pentium II or higher
  • 512 MB RAM
  • 10GB of free hard drive space on a primary partition
  • Network card

Recommended System Requirements

The following are the minimum recommended requirements. The more RAM and available disk space, 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.

Supported Processors

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[1] list the i386 and amd64 processors known to work. THIS URL DOES NOT WORK YET

Supported Video Cards

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[2] page.

PC-BSD® will automatically detect the optimal video settings for supported video drivers. You can verify that your graphics hardware is supported by clicking the Hardware Compatibility icon within the installer or by accessing this utility from Control Panel when using Live Mode. If this utility shows your video as VESA on a 32-bit system with an older NVIDIA or ATI card, this means that you must install and use the legacy driver as described below.

Support for the major graphic vendors is as follows:

NVIDIA: if you want to use 3D acceleration, NVIDIA is currently the best supported as there is a native driver for PC-BSD®. An "nVidia settings" icon is included in Control Panel for managing NVIDIA settings. Some older NVIDIA cards on 32-bit systems require an older NVIDIA driver. If you suspect you have one of these cards, select the Hardware-Drivers -> NVIDIA-Legacy drivers during installation or afterwards using System Manager.

Intel: as of 9.1, 3D acceleration on most Intel graphics is supported. Due to the current KMS support, you will not be able to switch between the graphical console and a virtual console using Crtl+Alt+F#.

ATI/Radeon: 3D acceleration will not work on ATI or Radeon cards until FreeBSD completes its TTM work (possibly in time 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. Some older ATI cards on 32-bit systems do not support KMS. If you suspect you have one of these cards, select the Hardware-Drivers -> ATI-Legacy package during installation or afterwards using System Manager.

Optimus: at this time Bumblebee[3] has not been ported to FreeBSD, meaning that there is no switching support between the two graphics adapters provided by Optimus. The only way to install PC-BSD® is to disable one of the graphics adapters in the BIOS. If the BIOS does not support that option, PC-BSD® is unsupported until switching support becomes available.

Wireless Cards

PC-BSD® has built-in support for dozens of wireless networking cards. You can check if your card has a FreeBSD driver[4]. If it does, it should "just work".

PC-BSD® will automatically detect available wireless networks for supported wireless devices. You can verify that your device is supported by clicking the Hardware Compatibility icon within the installer or by accessing this utility from Control Panel when using Live Mode. If it an external wireless device, insert it before running the Hardware Compatibility utility. If your device is not detected, the Wireless Testing page has some information about drivers which have not been ported yet. It also contains instructions for converting a Microsoft driver to a FreeBSD kernel module, though results will vary by driver. Known missing wireless drivers are typically for the Broadcom and newer Realtek series of cards.

Checking Hardware Compatibility

If you wish to check your hardware before installing PC-BSD®, a good place to start is the FreeBSD 9.1 Hardware Notes[5]. URL DOES NOT WORK YET

Another good resource is to run PC-BSD® in Live Mode; that way you can test your various devices before committing to an install.

While most hardware "just works" with PC-BSD®, it is possible that you will 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®.


  1. http://www.freebsd.org/releases/9.1R/hardware.html#PROC
  2. http://www.x.org/wiki/Projects/Drivers
  3. https://github.com/Bumblebee-Project/Bumblebee/wiki/FAQ
  4. http://www.freebsd.org/releases/9.0R/hardware.html#WLAN
  5. http://www.freebsd.org/releases/9.0R/hardware.html
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