Okay, we've been getting loads of questions/comments about the system requirements and while I'm happy to respond to them and I see it as one of the forum's more official purposes, they are getting a little repetitive and I think it's time that we try to collect all of the information into one place for people to look over when they've got questions. So, here goes:
Official Civilization V Minimum Requirements
CPU: Intel Core2 Duo @ 1.8GHz / AMD Athlon X2 64 @ 2.0GHz
Video Card: nVidia GeForce 7900GS / ATi HD2600 XT / Intel Core i3 integrated graphics
DirectX: DirectX 9.0c
Official Civilization V Recommended Specs
CPU: Quad-core processor @ 1.8GHz
Video Card: nVidia GeForce 9800 / ATi 4800
DirectX: DirectX 11
Storage Space: 8GB
Sound: DirectX 9.0c compatible sound card
Operating System: Windows XP SP3 / Windows Vista SP2 / Windows 7
Optical Drive: DVD-ROM drive (for retail boxed versions only)
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What happens if I don't meet the minimum requirements?
A: It's hard to say, and it really depends on just how far away you are from the minimum. If you are fairly close, or if only one component is under the minimum, you still may be able to play the game after reducing the quality of graphics or amount of animations.
Just as important is this: If you don't meet the minimum requirements 2K/Firaxis may or may not support you if you have trouble getting the game to run.
Q: I've got an older system, but I still want to play. What should I do?
A: Well, you can always replace your system or just upgrade a few parts, but that is going to cost money and time. In the past, people have been able to get below-minimum systems to play the game once they found the right settings. There are no guarantees, but its likely that once the game comes out, people will find these settings and post them here.
Q: What does it mean if I match the recommended specifications? Can I run the game with all the bells and whistles enabled?
A: Maybe, but if you only just meet the recommended, its likely that you're not going to be able to push the game to its highest level of detail. Usually publishers set the minimum recommendation as the minimum needed for them to support you and the recommended level as the level needed to play the game with all the features the game designers intended. You may or may not be able to play with 16x anti-aliasing and High detail models.
Q: I've got an nVidia 9200 series video card. How close am I to the recommended specs?
A: Pretty far. In fact, it puts you pretty far below the minimum requirements. nVidia's product numbering system is far from intuitive, so simply comparing 9200 against 7900 and 9800 is not going to help you when figuring out where you stand. The 9200 is a low-end business graphics card, the 7900 and 9800 are gaming card series. The 7900GS is roughly equivalent to the 8600GT and the 9600 GSO.
Q: The minimum requirements say that the integrated graphics for an i3 are good enough. What about the integrated graphics on my Core2?
A: Probably not. The integrated graphics on the Core i3 and Core i5 processors is significantly more powerful than the previous generation of Intel's integrated graphics. Most people don't even think the i3/i5 graphics measure up to the 7900GS/HD2600. Firaxis worked closely with Intel on the development of the game and its possible that it was optimized with the i3/i5 in mind. Older integrated graphics won't be able to take advantage of this and likely won't make for a very pleasant game experience.
Q: The minimum requirements ask for a dual-core 1.8GHz processor. I have a Pentium 4 processor that runs at 3.6GHz. Wouldn't that be the same?
A: No. While its possible that the game may still run on fast single-core processors, processor ability can't be measured by simply adding up the GHz. The Core2 line is quite a bit more powerful than the Pentium line, just as the Core i3/5/7 line is noticeably more powerful than the Core2 line. And even beyond that, a dual core processor is still going to perform better on multi-threaded games than a single core processor could.
Q: The recommended spec calls for a quad-core 1.8GHz processor. I have an i7 quad core that runs at 1.6GHz. Is that going to hurt game play?
A: Probably not. The new Core i3/i5/i7 processors are noticeably faster than the Core2 line. When they set the recommended spec for a 1.8GHz quad core, I'm sure they meant one of the reduced-power first/second generation quad-cores. The i7 is a fourth (fifth?) generation quad core. It's slightly better than a 2.4 GHz early quad core. You can safely treat this processor as if it meets the recommended spec.
Q: My memory and video card meet the recommended specs, but my processor is weak. What effect will that have on the game?
A: We don't know yet, but you can probably bet on longer end-of-turn times. Reports say that the graphics quality should be based mostly on your video card, so the game will probably look fine. You may have to deal with some stuttering as you move about the globe and some delayed responses on some actions. However: This is just speculation. We won't know until the game is released.
Q: My memory and processor meet the recommended specs, but my video card is weak or below the required level. What effect will that have on the game?
A: We don't know yet, but you can probably bet on low frame rates (jerky movement, dropped frames) and the inability to use high detail levels. You may be able to remedy some of this by using low detail levels and disabling some of the special effects. However, as the game progresses and the screen fills with more units, cities and improvements, you'll see your performance drop again.
Q: How do I know what version of DirectX I've got?
A: Well, you can run the command 'dxdiag' or you could just ignore this for the moment. Any computer which meets the minimum requirements is going to be able to run DirectX 9.0c and the Civilization V installation process is going to update DirectX to the most recent version possible for your system.
Q: What differences will I see between DirectX 9.0c, 10, and 11?
A: Users of DirectX 10 and 11 will probably have slightly better details and lighting than those of 9.0c. The effect is usually subtle and may not be noticeable in Civilization 5. DirectX 11 users will probably see noticeably better performance and slightly better rendering.
Q: The requirements say that I have to have XP Service Pack 3, but I only have Service Pack 2. (aka: I have Vista SP 1 and it requires Vista SP 2). Is this okay?
A: In most cases it probably won't matter, however, if you have any problems at all, this is one of the first things you'll want to fix. As a general note, you really do want to keep your system updated with the most recent service packs. Business/professional users sometimes like to avoid updating, but for playing games you really want to stay up to date.
I'll continue to add more questions as they come up or by request. If you have corrections or additions, please either post them here or feel free to PM me to have them included in this post.