The need for a high quality 3D graphics card to fly Eagle Lander 3D (EL3D) can not be overemphasized. In the past PCs were judged by their cpu speed: a 3ghz machine was faster and more powerful then a 1hz machine. For 3D applications this is not true!
A 600mhz old-clunker PC will fly EL3D much smoother and faster then a 3.2ghz screamer if the 600mhz PC has a superior graphics card. The 3.2ghz PC will will churn out Excel spreadsheets and access databases five times faster then the 600mhz machine - but those are office applications - not 3D applications.
Modern PC manufacturers do not by default put top-quality graphics cards into their boxes. As I write this, the Nvidia FX 5200 graphics card is the most common installed card on new computers for the home and office. The 5200 card is fine for office applications and can run 3D applications too. Nevertheless, the 5200 is only about 2/3rds as fast as my old GForce3 3D graphics card from nearly 4 years ago! The reason: cost. A 5200 card costs the manufacture (and you) under $50. A top quality card such as the Nvidia FX 5950 or Radeon 9800XT costs nearly $500. The difference in performance is about the same.
With the above in mind, a basic EL3D system consists of:
If you can live with lower frame rates, computers with less capabilities will still run EL3D. Laptops are usually marginal. The graphics adapters in laptops are the worst of all. Even the best and most expensive laptops generally have extremely poor 3D graphics capabilities. As I write this, the best graphics adapter installed in a top rated laptop is the GForce 5600 (>$2000 laptop) - a mid-range performing graphics adapter.
I have always purchased PCs with the best graphics card available at the time. It adds more to the cost of the computer but I feel it is worth it. Also, to extend the life of my computer I will usually upgrade to a new graphics card at least once in its lifetime. It is easy to do - just buy the card - open the box - pull out the old one - stick in the new one - close the box - boot up the machine - install the graphic drivers. The whole operation takes 15 minutes. You can still use your old card by pulling off parts for fishing lures.