Zwift works on my old iPhone 5s, so why do I need a fancy graphics card for Windows?

My laptop is old but it’s gotta be more powerful than the graphics and processing of my old iPhone 5s? 

I was hoping Zwift would work with one of the two laptops in the house, or the ipad2, or my android, or an android tablet, but no! But it does work with my old iPhone even though it is microscopic! I got a digital out cable and run it to a TV. It does a great job, though trying to activate the miniscule buttons on the iphone to select a workout, for example, is near impossible!

I moved to a Chrome browser and haven’t needed a Windows machine for a year, even though I still do graphics and make websites. So the idea of purchasing a Windows computer now is not something I’m looking forward too.  But I have really enjoyed Zwift, and I can see I’ll eventually want the best experience.  

I  was assuming that Zwift would run through a browser and all the processing would be done on a server somewhere. But it seems that is not the case and you have to do a lot of processing on your local machine. I don’t understand the benchmarks and all the numbers but it’s hard to believe that my iPhone5s has all the capability to run Zwift, but my Toshiba laptop does not!  

Like I said, loving Zwift, and it’s a necessity for me at the moment. I already need a new trainer because my budget smart trainer can’t handle sprints. And now it seems I need a Windows machine, a 4K TV, and a probaby a new bike! 

The app that runs on your iPhone is designed to run on it, just like the app for a PC is designed to run on it. It is not the same app so it is unfair to compare the 2.

A good Windows computer to run Zwift will run between $500-$600 (Alienware is on example). 

I have upgraded my trainer and purchased a power meter since I started Zwift, but I have no regrets.

Hi Jesse!


As Paul mentioned, the iOS app is engineered to work on iOS devices. 


You definitely don’t need a 4k TV, or a new bike! However, if your computer doesn’t meet our minimum specs, you will need a new computer (if you’re looking to run it on that). An Alienware is a great choice, we use them in the office as well as at our events on the road. 

Zwift is heavily graphics dependent, in some ways the iPhone 5S is actually more powerful than your PC in that it has dedicated graphics hardware that is often lacking in PCs, and especially in laptops.

You won’t be surprised to know that Zwift on a decent (I was going to say high end but that’s not true) PC with a dedicated graphics card does look much nicer than it does on the iPhone.

Thanks all. Yeah it’s not bad on the iPhone, that’s for sure. I’m actually surprised it works so well. Just tiny and virtually impossible to operate.  But I have it plugged into a 760 TV and I’m using the mobile link on my Android. 

Tyler, my trainer is not powerful enough for sprints. But I’m also using it with a budget 3x7 MTB.  In its hardest gear, with zero elevation resistance, it maxes out at like 300 watts before I’m spinning out. With full resistance it maxes at like 550 watts with me spinning!  So yes, I can still get a great erg mode workout as I’m not lasting long at 550!  But I know I can crank 1000watts on a Wattbike for a few seconds and I’d like that capability.

So more resistance from a higher end trainer will help, but it’ll be hard to push more watts on the flats without more gears. 

All this is just a personal debate like any bike decision. But until I actually tried Zwift the last couple weeks it was impossible to know how great it is. I can keep my setup as it is for now and it’ll be 70% fine. I just already want more! 


What are the specs of your computer? Aka the computers processor (CPU), memory (RAM), and graphics card (GPU). Zwift minimum Requirements are fairly low. If you laptop can’t run it I’m wondering if you laptop lacks harware for graphics (a GPU). I do know of friends with laptops and computers that lack a grahics card. Smart phones not only have a processor but also an additional graphics card. The iPhone 5 for instance has an intel duo core processor and an additional GPU.
Let me know if I can help. While I’m not a computer expert id be happy to help as much as I am able.

I forget Nicholas, but it’s at least 5 years old. It was a bit frustrating as I installed Zwift and only found out when I went to fired the program up. I just figured it should be fine because, as you said, the specs are pretty low.  However, my laptop graphics card doesn’t have dedicated memory; it seems it shares and adjusts the memory for it. It would seem to be able to adjust to enough memory but as it’s i’s not the correct spec Zwift won’t even try; just posts the message and quits. I saw quite a few others had the same issue. 
I brought my laptop with me the UK, but before I pulled it out I was using an old chrome machine I got for mum.  Next think I realized is I didn’t pull my laptop out for months, because I just didn’t need it. Everything I do now is via the cloud, from google docs to editing graphics. So investing in a windows machine just for Zwift feels like a step backward.
That all said I’ll eventually want the the best 4K experience, so seems I have no choice. I can live with the iPhone app for now… 

I’ve used Zwift on my PC, where I get 1080p Ultra at 60+fps and on my iPhone 7.

The graphics on the PC are better, but how much better? I would say it’s only marginally so, some of the textures are nicer, you get a heat haze effect in the volcano etc, none of those things are anything you’d really miss if you had to go without them. So as long as you’ve got a recent iPhone e.g. 6S or 7 you’ve already got 98% of the Zwift experience you’d get from a PC with dedicated graphics.

*I was going to say high end PC, but i3 / GTX960 is very much mid-range.

The benchmarks at Zwiftalizer will show you the Zwift performance of many real-world PCs.

Actually Mark I moved to Android because after many years of iPhone I couldn’t afford the 900pounds on the new one (I could not do contract). 900 happens to be about double the cost of an Alienware machine Zwift keeps touting. 

Steve, I realized I can look at a used computer somewhere, then start looking at the benchmarks and attempt to figure out if my combo of motherboard and graphics card would work… But if I just look at the list it may as well be hieroglyphics! I can imagine it’s all very confusing for a huge portion of users.

I even think there’s a huge market potential for those selling fully fledged all-in-one Zwift setups to circumvent the hassle. Busy rich business type here in London would just not have the time to figure some of it out. 

The Zwift experience has been awesome so I know it will grow as people eventually do figure their setups out. That said, many potential customers gave up early. They’ll probably be back though. 

Anecdote: I watched a video on how to race on Zwift, from warming up to blasting off the start and waiting till things settle in. Randomly I finished a workout and saw a race was coming up, so I jumped in. I cranked off the start, things settled, breakaways formed, and so on. As an experienced mtb racer I’ve never actually raced on the road, so when the Zwift race ended with me sucking on the back of my comp and sprinting around him the last 200m, the experience was thrilling.   

Meanwhile, one of my buddies has been on Zwift for a year and loving it. I told him about the race and he said, “yeah I tried one of those once and it sucked, got dropped on the line, never had any reason to try it again”.  

I think there’s a lot of people who’ve been jaded by a setup that just didn’t work. From having the right device to pairing their trainer, etc… but that’s how anything like this is I guess. They may be back, just like my buddy may give a Zwift race another go. 

> Actually Mark I moved to Android because after many years of iPhone I couldn’t afford the 900pounds on the new one (I could not do contract). 900 happens to be about double the cost of an Alienware machine Zwift keeps touting. 

Sure; the likes of iPhone and iPad are only good solutions for Zwift if you already have them and are using them for other purposes. I would never suggest anyone go out and buy an iPad or iPhone just for Zwifting with. As if you do really have to buy a machine which is only for Zwift and isn’t going to be used to anything else then the best value is going to be gained from a PC with a dedicated graphics card.

That may well change when the Apple TV version is out as that’s super cheap to buy.