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What hardware should I buy for Trainz?

By Tony_Hilliam, July 15 2016

One of the most common questions we are asked is "What hardware should I get to run Trainz?". There is a bewildering amount of information out there about computers, and we wanted to provide a Trainz specific guide to helping you make that decision. 

First off - Why Upgrade at All?

If you haven't bought a PC in the last 5 years then you are really missing out on a big part of your Trainz experience. A 5 year old video card such as the GeForce GTX 560 has a performance rating of 3,111 on the G3D Mark scale. Move forward a few years and the budget GTX 960 card released at the start of 2015 hits nearly double that rating at 5,923 (and these cards are surprisingly affordable).

By comparison however, the latest card just released by Nvidia is the GTX 1080 and it comes in at a staggering 12,748 on G3D Mark - or roughly 4 times the performance of your 5 year old graphics card.

Take a look at these differences in performance benchmarks to see where your current card sits. Obviously the higher the number on the scale, the better performance you are going to see in Trainz.

Upgrade or Buy New?

This is the hardest question to answer as there are so many variables at play. If you have bought well in the past, then chances are you will be able to upgrade at a fraction of the price of buying a whole new system.

If your power supply supports a higher powered graphics card, then this is one of the quickest and most beneficial upgrades. Apart from checking your PSU is up to the task, also make sure the card will actually fit into your desktop computer case.

Adding more RAM is even quicker and cheaper, but while you should notice certain things running quicker, you probably won't see a big difference in frame rates.

Desktop or Laptop? 

The answer to this one is easy. Unless you plan to travel a lot with your laptop, or you have lots of spare cash, desktop is really the only choice. Dollar for dollar you get far better value from the desktop, and if you are going for a higher end specification, then desktops will outperform the laptop by even further.

Budget or High Spec?

Buying hardware is always a trade-off, and in addition, what you buy today is out of date tomorrow. It nearly always comes down to "buy the best system you can afford".

We have no affiliation with any of the following companies but are simply providing examples of systems you could consider to be "budget" or "high spec". You can go lower or higher than these ranges, and most PC vendors will offer you upgrade options on their base system.  If it comes down to choosing between one or two components to upgrade, then generally the graphics card is going to be your best "bang for buck"

UK Budget £499.00
UK High Spec £1,999.99

US Budget $799.99
USA High Spec $2,299.99

Operating System

Most users have reported that upgrading to Windows 10 gives a 5-10% boost to performance. This upgrade is currently free - but only for the next two weeks, so make sure you act now if you choose this option.

Research your hardware.

Prior to taking the plunge and buying your hardware, consider jumping onto an online forum and asking for advice on the setup you are looking at. Often when a deal looks too good to be true, it is due to using certain components that simply don't match up to the rest of the system, and you end up saving money but losing out on performance. You can also get good advice on our own forums...