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Windows 11: Does my computer support it?

Hello again fellow readers and fixers! Chances are for the techies among us, you will have read or heard about news of the upcoming release of Microsoft’s new operating system, called Windows 11.

What are the minimum requirements for installing and running Windows 11?

The company has recently announced basic system requirements for the new operating system. These are a set of specifications that are determined to ensure that the operating system will function smoothly when run on a given computer. We will go through each of the minimum requirements in turn, and how they compare with Windows 10. These are as follows:

  • Processor: Microsoft states that a compatible 64-bit CPU or system-on-chip (SoC) with at least two physical cores that are clocked at a minimum of 1 GHz. This is a step up from the requirements for Windows 10, which only needed a single-core processor with at least the same clock speed. You can check these pages to see if your computer has an Intel CPU or AMD CPU, or a system-on-chip that is on the list of supported processors.
  • RAM: Windows 11 is slated to require at least 4GB of RAM in order to allow the operating system to run smoothly. By comparison, Windows 10 only required at least 1GB of RAM if it is a 32-bit version, or 2GB of RAM if it is a 64-bit version.
  • Storage: In terms of storage space, Microsoft states that the internal storage device, which can be a hard drive, an SSD, or embedded storage, must be at least 64GB in size. This is larger than is required for Windows 10, which needed a minimum of 32GB of storage space.
  • System firmware: For Windows 11, the BIOS for your laptop and motherboard will need to be configured so that UEFI boot and Secure Boot are both enabled. This differs from Windows 10, where it can be installed with Legacy boot enabled and Secure Boot disabled.
  • TPM: Unlike Windows 10, Windows 11 requires having Trusted Platform Module 2.0 installed and enabled in the BIOS for your computer. The Trusted Platform Module is a security coprocessor that is designed to utilise cryptographic keys for hardware security in computers. It can be in the form of a dedicated module that can be purchased and plugged into the TPM header, which can be found on many motherboards, of an embedded solution that is integrated to the CPU or motherboard, or of a software-based solution that uses emulators to provide TPM functionality.
  • Graphics card: An integrated graphics solution, which can be in the CPU or (in some cases) embedded on motherboards, or a dedicated graphics card will need to be compatible with DirectX 12 or later, with its drivers based around the Windows Display Driver Model (WDDM) graphics driver architecture at version 2.0 or later. By comparison for Windows 10, a dedicated graphics card or integrated graphics solution needed to support DirectX 9 or later with drivers based on WDDM 1.0 or later.
  • Display: The display needs to be at least nine inches measured diagonally from corner to corner, with a screen resolution of at least 720p (high definition) and support for at least eight bits per colour channel. The display can be in the form of a monitor, a laptop screen, or a tablet display, as long as it meets this requirement. Windows 10, on the other hand, merely stated that the display needed to have a screen resolution of 800×600 pixels.
  • Internet connection: If you would be purchasing a new or refurbished computer that will come with Windows 11 Home installed, then please be aware that you will need to have a Microsoft account as well as an internet connection in order to setup your machine for first use.

If you are already running Windows 10 on your computer, then the easiest way to determine if it meets the basic requirements for running Windows 11 is to download the PC health check app, which is a free software application provided by Microsoft.

If your computer has a GNU/Linux distro installed, then there are some software tools that you can use to find information about the current specifications of your machine. For example, lshw (shorthand for List Hardware) is a terminal-based tool that provides a list of hardware components in your computer. To use it, simply open up a terminal and type in lshw -short; this shows a concise list of all the components, and you can then use the information from that list to compare your hardware components with the minimum specifications for Windows 11.

What if my computer doesn’t meet the minimum requirements for Windows 11?

If you find that your system does not meet the minimum requirements for installing and running Windows 11, then you have a few options to consider:

  • Stick with your current operating system: If the operating system that you are currently using works fine for your needs, whether it is Windows 10, a GNU-Linux distro such as Ubuntu, Linux Mint or Fedora, or even macOS, then keeping it going for longer make sense. Microsoft has reportedly stated that Windows 10 will continue to be supported until 2025, so Windows 10 users still have plenty of time to consider whether or not Windows 11 is right for them before committing to the upgrade.
  • Switch to a different operating system: On the other hand, if you have a relatively modest computer that doesn’t meet the requirements for Windows 11, or if you fancy trying something different, then it’s worth looking at an alternative operative system. After all, it can be easy to fall into the idea that because your computer cannot be upgraded to the latest and greatest release of your preferred operating system, it suddenly becomes worthless. In fact, installing an alternative operating system can give your current computer a new lease of life, whether as a media centre or a gaming machine that can play older games.
  • Upgrade or reconfigure your current computer: Upgrading your computer can be a good way to not only ensure that it meets the minimum requirements for Windows 11, but also to extend its useful operating life. Making targeted upgrades based on feedback from Microsoft’s PC health check app, or comparing your computer’s specifications with the basic specifications for Windows 11 can be a very cost-efficient way to ensure that it’s ready for upgrading to Windows 11. If, on the other hand, your computer’s core specs are fine, but your operating is installed and configured for legacy boot mode rather than UEFI boot, that Secure Boot is turned off, and/or that the TPM is not installed, is turned off or is the older 1.2 version, then turning on Secure Boot and the TPM (or installing or upgrading it to the 2.0 version), and reinstalling the operating system in UEFI mode (make sure to back up all of your important data first!) helps ensure that it will be ready for Windows 11.
  • Buy a compatible computer: If upgrading your current machine or operating system would not be cost-efficient or practical, then upgrading to a more recent computer would be a good way to ensure that you will be ready and prepared for when Windows 11 is officially released. It does not have to be a brand new computer; it can be an ex-display computer, a factory-refurbished model from the OEM, or a refurbished computer from a third-party seller. As long as the chosen computer meets the requirements for Windows 11, you’re good to go!