Get your PC ready for Windows 11 – This is how you check whether your PC is already suitable

While it hasn’t exactly turned out to be the clean slate that Microsoft envisioned with Windows 10X, Windows 11 breaks from its predecessor in a number of ways. In recent days, there has been a fuss about various new system requirements that Microsoft sets for PCs that are allowed to run Windows 11, such as UEFI bios, a GPT boot partition, and TPM 2.0. How do you ensure that you are already Windows 11 ready?

For starters: don’t panic, you will be able to run Windows 11 on almost any modern PC. Many of the communicated system requirements are not intended directly for consumers, but for computer manufacturers. A PC sold with Windows 11 will have to meet the requirements set by Microsoft. The requirements for compatibility with Windows 11 are considerably less strict.

The minimum system requirements for an upgrade to Windows 11 are as follows, compared to the requirements for Windows 10:

Windows 10 Windows 11
Processor 32- or 64-bit
At least 1 core
At least 1GHz
64-bit
At least 2 cores
At least 1GHz
Random access memory At least 1GB for 32-bit
At least 2GB for 64-bit
At least 4GB
Storage At least 16GB for 32-bit
At least 20GB for 64-bit
At least 64GB
video card At least DirectX 9 At least DirectX 12
Firmware N/A UEFI with Secure Boot
TPM 2.0

Source: Microsoft

The first thing to notice is that the ‘dual’ system requirements for the 32- and 64-bit versions of the OS have been dropped. That has a simple reason, because there will no longer be a 32-bit edition of Windows 11. So by definition you need a 64-bit processor. The most recent processor that does not support 64bit is, as far as we could determine, the Intel Atom N280 from 2009 So your trusted netbook is out of the question.

The rest of the primary system requirements are admittedly somewhat increased compared to those for Windows 10, but they sound very reasonable for 2021 standards: a dual-core CPU, 4GB of RAM and an SSD or hard drive of at least 64GB. At least one WDDM 2.0 driver with DirectX 12 support must be available for the video card . In theory, you’re fine with an Nvidia GeForce video card from Fermi (GTX 400) or an AMD Radeon from the HD 7000 series, but the latest drivers only support Kepler (GTX 600) or the RX 400 series and newer. The limitation here is therefore the driver support of gpu makers.

A striking new requirement is TPM 2.0, a standard for a secure part of a processor to work with disk encryption, for example. It’s not the first time Microsoft has attempted to accelerate the adoption of TPM 2.0; it had previously planned to add it to the requirements for Windows 8.1, which ultimately fell through. All modern processors support at least a firmware implementation of TPM 2.0, but many DIY systems have it disabled by default.

Is my PC ready for Windows 11?

To verify if your PC is already ready to install Windows 11 when it comes out, Microsoft has made available a tool: the PC Health Check App. The intention is that this program tells you if you can run Windows 11 and if not, why not. In practice, however, this does not always work well. On the undersigned’s system, the tool, even in the latest version, did not get any further than a general error message.

The software developer Robert Maehl, who is also active on the Linustechtips forum, has developed a tool that shows in more detail which system requirements your PC meets or does not meet. We explain them one by one in the list below.

You can safely download the WhyNotWin11 tool from Github. Because the software is not yet signed, you may have to work through a number of Windows SmartScreen warnings before you are allowed to run the executable.

  • Architecture (CPU + OS)
    Windows 11 only supports 64-bit processors, be it an x86 or ARM chip. If you are now running a 32-bit OS, then by definition you cannot upgrade to Windows 11. If you do have a 64-bit processor, but you are now running a 32-bit OS, you must perform a clean Windows 11 installation.
  • Boot method
    Since about ten years, UEFI has been regarded as the successor to the traditional BIOS. The boot method that is part of UEFI is both faster and more secure than the legacy option. This option is related to the type of partition table present on your hard disk or SSD. A UEFI uses GPT , a traditional MBR bios . MBR has several limits, such as a maximum disk size of 2TB.
    If you were to do a new Windows installation now, your storage media will be formatted with GPT by default. So you will only use MBR if you have upgraded from an older Windows version or if you have your bios on CSM.
    You can only convert the boot method from legacy to UEFI if you change the partition table of your storage media at the same time. Below we explain how to do that.
  • CPU Compatibility
    This check measures your processor against the official compatibility list for Windows 11, which includes only AMD processors with Zen+ or newer (Ryzen 2000 and above) and Intel processors with Coffee Lake or newer (Core 8000 and above). It’s still unclear whether this will become a hard requirement upon final installation, or just a design requirement for manufacturers of new Windows 11 PCs.
  • CPU Core Count
    Windows 11 requires at least a processor with two cores.
  • CPU Frequency
    A processor with a clock speed of 1GHz or higher is required to run Windows 11.
  • DirectX + WDDM2
    You need a video card that supports DirectX 12 and has a driver that is WDDM 2.0 compatible.
  • Disk Partition Type
    See boot method.
  • RAM Installed
    For Windows 11 you need 4GB or more RAM.
  • Secure Boot
    Secure Boot is part of the UEFI standard and prevents your PC from booting with unsigned drivers and bootloaders. This prevents the installation of a rootkit, for example, which would remain active even after a reinstall of the OS. Microsoft has supported Secure Boot since Windows 8, but Linux distributions like OpenSUSE, Debian, and Ubuntu also support it.
  • Storage Available
    Windows 11 requires a storage medium of at least 64GB.
  • TPM Version
    TPM 2.0 support is required for Windows 11.

Enable TPM 2.0

One of the most common reasons why you can’t install Windows 11 on your PC yet will be the lack of TPM 2.0 support. This is disabled by default on many motherboards sold separately – there is a good chance that this is also the case on your DIY system. By the way, you don’t need a hardware TPM module; the virtual TPM implementation in modern processors from AMD and Intel suffices.

In general, you can assume that your system supports TPM 2.0 if you have an Intel processor with Skylake cores (Core 6000 and newer) or an AMD Ryzen processor. To enable TPM 2.0, you need to look for the option in your bios. With Intel motherboards it is usually called TPM 2.0 or PTT, with AMD processors the name fTPM is common.

Each bios is organized slightly differently, but based on the bios screenshots we took for our motherboard reviews, we’ve put together some general guidelines below for where to find this option.

  • Motherboard with Intel chipset
    ASUS: Advanced -> PCH/FW Configuration -> PTT & TPM Device Selection (firmware)
    ASRock: Security -> Intel Platform Trust Technology
    Gigabyte: Settings -> Miscellaneous -> Trusted Computing -> Security Device Support
    MSI: Settings -> Security -> Trusted Computing -> Security Device Support
  • Motherboard with AMD chipset
    ASUS: Advanced -> AMD fTPM Configuration -> AMD CPU fTPM
    ASRock: Advanced -> CPU Configuration -> AMD fTPM Switch
    Gigabyte: Settings -> Miscellaneous -> AMD CPU fTPM
    MSI: Settings -> Security -> Trusted Computing -> Security Device Support & AMD fTPM Switch

To verify that enabling TPM 2.0 was successful, open tpm.msc from the start menu.

Switching from legacy/MBR to UEFI/GPT

As we mentioned briefly earlier, the boot mode and the partition table type are linked together. A bios in UEFI mode cannot boot from an MBR partition table. Therefore, you need to convert these two properties at the same time if you want to switch to UEFI and GPT to make your PC Windows 11 compatible.

From Windows 10 version 1703 you can convert a partition table from MBR to GPT afterward, without the need for separate (often paid) tools. However, it is recommended that you make a good backup before doing this because if something goes wrong, you can end up in a situation where you can no longer start Windows.

  1. Check if you are now using an MBR partition table. To do this, right-click on the start button, go to Disk Management/Disk Management, right-click on your startup disk (usually disk 0) and choose Properties -> Volumes. Under ‘Partition style’ you will find the type of partition table that is currently being used.
  2. Check if you can switch to UEFI boot mode in your bios by changing the boot mode from ‘legacy’ to ‘UEFI’ or by disabling CSM. Don’t do this now.
  3. Open a command prompt with administrator privileges and run the following command:
    mbr2gpt.exe /convert /allowfullOS
  4. Reboot your computer to the bios. As you found earlier, change the legacy boot mode to UEFI, and/or disable CSM.

Enable Secure Boot

Secure Boot is also related to the switch from the traditional BIOS to UEFI. You can only enable Secure Boot if you are using UEFI boot mode. If you are still using legacy mode or CSM, this is not possible.

Already using UEFI boot mode? Then you can enable Secure Boot in your bios without any problems. You can usually find this setting in the ‘Advanced’ or ‘Boot’ tabs. If you are still using legacy mode or CSM, you must first convert your Windows installation to UEFI/GPT via the steps above.

Preliminary conclusion

Do Microsoft’s PC Health Check App and WhyNotWin11 tool indicate that you are ready for Windows 11? Then you can install the latest Windows version as soon as it comes out without any problems. In addition to the hardware requirements, your system must also meet some configuration requirements, such as enabling TPM 2.0 and booting in UEFI mode with Secure Boot enabled. You can do that on almost any somewhat recent system.

What remains is the remarkable list of ‘supported processors’ from AMD and Intel, which seems to exclude CPUs older than the Ryzen 2000 series or Core 8000 series. However, the soup is probably not eaten nearly as hot as it is now served. For example, did you know that the Haswell processors (Intel Core 4000 series) are not on the official support list for the existing Windows 10 21H1 update? However, that doesn’t mean the latest Windows 10 version won’t work at all on a Haswell CPU; it’s just not proactively offered by Windows Update.

We wouldn’t be surprised if you can just as easily install Windows 11 manually if you have an older processor, as long as it meets the basic requirements (1GHz, 2 cores and 64bit). Microsoft has already indicated that this will be the case at least with the upcoming beta builds for Insiders. But if Windows 11 does not become it, you will receive support and security updates for Windows 10 until at least 2025.

Both WhyNotWin11 and Microsoft’s PC Health Check App indicate that we are ready for Windows 11 after activating TPM 2.0 in the bios.

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