• Video: Stripped-down Vista can run on any graphics hardware that can support what's called SVGA, or a resolution of 800 by 600. The hardware should also support a Microsoft technology called DirectX 9. This includes many integrated graphics systems, which do away with a separate video card in favor of graphics chips bolted to the mother board.
Full Vista will be best with a separate, or "discrete," graphics card that has at least 128 megabytes of dedicated video memory. These cards also need support for DirectX 9. In addition, however, they must also support Microsoft software called "WDDM" and "Pixel Shader 2." If your eyes are rolling right now, don't fret. Microsoft officials say nearly all discrete graphics cards on the market today meet these specs, as will the latest integrated graphics systems, such as Intel chip sets labeled 945 or higher.• Processor: For stripped-down Vista, a processor running at 800 megahertz or faster should be sufficient, according to Microsoft. For full Vista, the speed rises to one gigahertz. I'd edge higher if your budget allows, but you don't need the fastest processor.
• Hard disk: Disk storage is already copious enough for Vista, and buying large amounts is cheap. For stripped-down Vista, I'd go for at least 60 gigabytes of hard-disk space. For full Vista, I'd boost that to 160 gigabytes, to accommodate lots of music and video.
--Mossberg, 13 Apr 06