Today we’ll tell you how to prepare your PC for Windows 11 upgrade. The upgrade to Windows 11 is not going to be as simple as the one Microsoft offered to jump to Windows 10 from previous operating systems. While the hardware requirements of Windows 7 and 8 were pretty much the same at the time, they have now been raised substantially by incorporating components such as TPM, a UEFI compatible ‘Secure Boot’ feature, and DirectX 12 compatible graphics.
ASUS, the world’s leading motherboard vendor, last week updated its Windows 11 support program by publishing a complete list of models compatible with Windows 11. It also showed how to enable TPM on UEFI (on both Intel and AMD platforms) while releasing new versions of its BIOS/UEFI that will already have this component enabled by default so the user doesn’t have to worry about managing it.
The process can be used for any motherboard from other manufacturers and in general to evaluate your PC’s ability to install the next version of Windows. In addition to the mentioned TPM, we will review all the other minimum hardware requirements.
How to prepare your PC for Windows 11 upgrade?
The major manufacturers have been publishing lists of compatible hardware for Windows 11. Microsoft says it is going to be “inflexible” with the requirements. Although it will not be the first time that the Redmond firm changes its strategy for commercial needs and it is also certain that we will see hacks to omit the Out of Box Experience verifier that checks these requirements (we have already done it in very old computers), in principle if you do not have them you will not be able to upgrade.
A look at the following lists of CPUs and boards compatible with Windows 11 will put you in the situation of what you have or need:
- Intel: (Generally speaking, processors from 8th Generation Core or higher). Surprisingly, the 7th Gen Core is left out, which has models with plenty of power to run the system.
- AMD: (Generally, from Ryzen 2000 or higher).
- ASUS: (At least 30 motherboard models supported. From Intel 300 series chipsets and AMD 300 and up. For HEDT platforms, we see Intel X299 and AMD X399, and TRX40 based boards supported.
- GIGABYTE: (Intel X299, C621, C232, C236, C246, 200, 300, 400, and 500 series, while AMD will be the TRX40, 300, 400, and 500).
- MSI: (Both Intel and AMD 300, 400, and 500 series motherboards are compatible. MSI also mentioned the 100 and 200 series chipsets, but for the moment they are limited by the lack of support for Intel 7th Gen CPUs).
- ASRock: (Same as the big three motherboard manufacturers).
- BIOSTAR: (The same as those of the big three motherboard manufacturers).
What motherboard do I have?
Considering that the motherboard will be key for the upgrade to Windows 11, a good way to start is to determine the model we have and the CPU we have installed. If you do not know this data, there are plenty of applications that can help you. CPU-Z is a reference in this type of program and we recommend it for its simplicity. In addition to performance comparisons, it offers complete information about the processor and its characteristics, the motherboard, and its components, chipset, BIOS version, RAM, or graphics card.
If you need this information, simply download the application from the link, install and run it.
Do I have the TPM module installed?
This secure platform module is a classic in computer systems, although it is only now that it has reached the general public. Widely used (almost by default) in enterprise computers, it is a physical chip dedicated to security tasks, authentication, generation of cryptographic keys, and in general to maintain the integrity of the system by preventing malicious software from making alterations to it.
The point here is that this is the first time it has been mandated as a requirement in an operating system. Considering that TPM 2.0 (the required version) was introduced in 2015 and that even if it is not present it can be additionally installed if the board has a free connector for it or that you can have the option to activate the fTPM firmware-based mode, it will be a good number of computers that can be upgraded. Others will not.
You can check if your board has this chip (and if it is enabled) in several ways:
- Press the “Windows + R” hotkeys to activate the Run function and type “TPM.msc”. In the information screen, you will see the TPM and version.
- In Windows 10, you also have this information by accessing the Settings > Update & Security > Windows Security > Device Security > Security Processor.
Do I have UEFI and Secure Boot?
Another of the minimum requirements for Windows 11 affects the firmware of your computer, which must be a UEFI compatible with Secure Boot. If you remember, Secure Boot ran rivers of ink when a few years ago it was implemented and blocked the installation of Linux systems and even previous Windows systems such as 7. All motherboards with the new UEFI include it and most manufacturers have allowed the user to manage the activation/deactivation, but we will see what happens with Windows 11.
Secure Boot is managed there in the UEFI and its mandatory activation in Windows 11 will complicate the life of compulsive testers (like the undersigned) who have installed several operating systems on the same computer. On an ASUS motherboard it is managed in the boot section you see in the image. With other vendors it is similar.
Which version of DirectX do I use?
Upgrading to Windows 11 will also require a component that is being talked about less than TPM, but may leave out many computers, especially with older integrated graphics. The minimum requirement in this section is a graphics card compatible with DirectX 12 / WDDM 2.x, the version of the multimedia libraries that Microsoft debuted exclusively for Windows 10 and has been pushing for more than 20 years, since Windows 95, changing and controlling the PC gaming industry as Windows monopolized the desktop.
It is obvious that Microsoft pulls for its ground and beyond that OpenGL-Vulkan could be more efficient in hardware utilization and open royalty-free under a standard cross-platform API, if you want to use Windows 11 you know.
Checking if you have a compatible graphics system is easy in Windows 10:
- Press the hotkeys “Windows + R” to activate the Run function and type “dxdiag”.
- You will see the installed version in the diagnostic test summary.
Other requirements for ugrading to Windows 11
The processor requirement is minimal and virtually any working PC will have one equal to or greater. It requires a dual-core 1 GHz CPU (or SoC). If you don’t have even that, it’s time to get a new computer because the experience will be totally limited, whether running Windows or other systems.
Memory and storage requirements have increased compared to Windows 10, but in these areas, they are reasonable. 4GB of RAM is the minimum required in any Windows PC and 64GB of storage space is another minimum to at least be able to install the operating system and some (few) applications. Little more, considering that a single game can exceed 100GB.
We talk about minimums because the average installed is much higher. If you need more memory, you can follow our practical article to increase the RAM of a desktop or laptop PC looking for at least 8GB. As for storage, SSDs have an excellent price and are the default format to use. If the budget is tight, you can always use hard disks that you probably have forgotten at home.
As for the minimum screen requirements, they are trivial because Windows requires 9-inch diagonal panels with 720p resolution. For the updates to the most basic version, Windows 11 Home, an Internet connection and a Microsoft ID account will be necessary.
Microsoft details other components beyond the minimum to take full advantage of the new operating system features. These are to be expected. From audio systems to webcams and microphones for video conferencing; IR camera for Windows Hello; Wi-Fi 6E for the latest in wireless Internet connectivity; an NVMe SDD for DirectStorage; a 5G modem; monitor for HDR and other recommended requirements that you can read in this Microsoft support article.
Do I meet all the requirements?
Summing up all of the above and as a quick way to check the compatibility of a PC, Microsoft released an application called ‘PC Health Check’ to check if a given computer was ready to upgrade to Windows 11. The tool worked for a couple of days and the company temporarily disabled it. We don’t know why, will the requirements be relaxed in the end? We’ll see
There are other ways to perform this type of check using third-party applications. The best one is ‘WhyNotWin11.exe’. Free, open-source, and as easy to use as downloading it from GitHub and running it to get the results.
Management with a motherboard
ASUS will ease the task of upgrading to Windows 11 by enabling TPM and secure boot by default on its compatible motherboards. This will be achieved by upgrading the UEFI to the latest versions it has released for some models and others it is developing and will offer before system launch.
There is no standard method for updating a UEFI because each manufacturer uses its own, but the process is very similar for all of them. In the case of ASUS, it consists of downloading the corresponding one for each motherboard model (in . CAP format), saving it on a USB Pendrive, and entering the BIOS to update it from there. You can check our guide if you need more information.
If you have an upgraded motherboard that supports TPM and secure boot, you may find that some of them are not enabled. On ASUS boards under the Intel platform, the manual activation of TPM is done in Advanced Options/PCH-FW Configuration, as you can see in the picture:
On AMD boards, the management is done in Advanced Options/AMD fTPM and you simply have to enable “Firmware TPM” as the default option:
We hope that with this review you have a fairly complete idea of the upgrade possibilities to Windows 11 for your computer. The final version of the system will be available between October-November, although you can already test it from the Insider channel.