Microsoft recently released the latest and greatest version of their operating system, Windows 11. This month, we’ve been answering some of the most asked questions about the upgrade from Windows 10 to 11. In this article, we’ll be discussing “Do You Need to Make Hardware Changes to Upgrade to Windows 11?”.
Like all other software and app upgrades, there are certain system requirements needed for you to be able to upgrade to Windows 11. And, there’s no surprise that if your device does not meet these requirements, unfortunately, it’s unlikely that you will be able to install Windows 11 on your current device and you may need to purchase a new device if you want to upgrade. But to help you determine whether or not your current device is suitable to install Windows 11 on, we’ll be discussing some of the system requirements needed before you can make the upgrade.
It’s not unusual for apps, upgrades and software to have specific system requirements before installing. But “why is that?” you might ask. There are three main principles that system requirements are designed to align with:
- Security – the hardware features are needed to ensure the OS is as secure as possible.
- Reliability – the hardware requirements are there to ensure the OS crashes as little as possible.
- Compatibility – the OS should not have requirements lower than those of Microsoft’s key apps i.e. Office and Teams.
With those principles in mind, we will go through each of the key requirements one by one and discuss the justifications for each one.
Microsoft lists the minimum processor speed required for installing Windows 11 as 1 Gigahertz (GHz) or faster with two or more cores on a compatible 64-bit processor or system on a chip (SoC). It’s not likely that you can buy a CPU slower than 1GHz in this day and age, and if you can, it’s not advisable and we wouldn’t recommend it.
This would also be the case for processors with two or more cores. Whilst you may be able to find one from Intel, there’s no reason that a processor of this speed would or should be shipped in a new PC. If you’ve ever used Windows 10 in a virtual machine with a single virtual CPU, you’ll appreciate why: the machine will likely become unresponsive at various points in time because it’s working away in the background.
Then we’ve got the compatible 64-bit processor which simply means all 8th generation and above processors, along with a very small list of 7th generation processors. It seems that this requirement can be viewed from a security perspective. And you might be wondering, “how does a CPU help with security?” and the answer is that it’s not specifically about the CPU as such, it’s more to do with the drivers. More specifically, the requirements for security features based on virtualisation-based security (VBS) and hypervisor-protected code integrity (HVCI). These VBS and HVCI requirements involve more strenuous driver certification processes. So which CPUs are going to be supported? Those that already support drivers, typically created by the OEM, supporting VBS and HVCI.
Microsoft list the minimum requirements for the RAM as 4 Gigabytes (GB) or greater. Now, given the price for RAM, purchasing a PC with less than 4GB is not recommended. Any PC with less than 4GB of RAM is not going to meet the requirements of the apps that we use in this day and age, even if you only plan on using the web browser. Therefore purchasing a device with less than 4GB of RAM does nothing to ensure a reasonable lifetime for the device. And then when you consider the memory requirements for the likes of Teams, Outlook and the other apps included in the Microsoft 365 apps collection, you can understand why this requirement is in place. And if anything, you might want to consider having more RAM in your device.
The minimum system requirement for storage needed to install Windows 11 is 64GB or greater available storage. While it’s entirely possible to install Windows 11 on a device with only 64GB of storage, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you can use that device through a series of Windows feature updates, quality updates and even general day-to-day usage. This requirement doesn’t quite go far enough it’s better to have too much storage than too little. As a rule of thumb, when purchasing a device, it’s best to go with devices with 128GB of storage or more. But of course, this requirement is designed to keep the cost low for an entry-level device – which may be the only practical option in certain education and front-line scenarios.
UEFI, Secure Boot Capable is the requirement for system firmware. This is another requirement that is unsurprising. The legacy BIOS used on PC’s before UEFI was, undoubtedly, not secure. UEFI addressed many of those issues and more significantly created a codebase that could be carried forward so that it could continue to stay one step ahead of the cybercriminals.
You may not be the Secure Boot feature’s number one fan but the fact is, it provides a key security function: it ensures that the device is protected from the second the hardware is turned on until the OS can effectively defend itself.
Windows 11 requires a graphics card compliable with DirectX 12 or later with a WDDM 2.0 driver. DirectX 12 has been in the picture since 2015 and is supported by every modern chipset and driver. Therefore, this requirement might have been a bigger deal if Microsoft would have supported older CPU generations, but with the 8th gen requirement, this is insignificant.
To install Windows 11, your device will need to have Trusted Platform Module (TPM) version 2.0. This might be the most controversial requirement. But, it is a reasonable security feature. You might be wondering “What does it do?” and to put it simply it helps to enable a tamper-resistant full-disk encryption without requiring extremely long passphrases , as well as capabilities to attest to the health and identity of the device. So it makes sense that this is a security requirement.
The minimum display requirements to install Windows 11 are High definition (720p) display, a 9” or greater monitor, 8 bits per colour channel. Again this is not an unreasonable requirement. It would be rather difficult to purchase a display that doesn’t already meet these requirements. You could argue that there should be higher requirements for the display, for example, 1080p, but Windows works perfectly fine with 720p so it is sufficient.
All in all, these requirements aren’t completely outrageous and they make sense given the size and magnitude of the upgrade. So there you have it, those are the main system requirements that Microsoft have listed as essential for installing Windows 11 – 1GHz faster with two or more cores on a compatible 64-bit processor or system on a chip (SoC); 4GB or greater RAM; available storage is greater than 64GB; the system firmware must UEFI, Secure Boot capable; DirectX 12 or later with a WDDM 2.0 driver; Trusted Platform Module (TPM) version 2.0 and an HD (720p) display, 9” or greater monitor, 8 bits per colour channel.
If your device meets these requirements or does more than what’s listed above and you’d like to upgrade to Windows 11, then, by all means, go for it – but if you’re still not sure then why not give us a call and one of our engineers can help to talk you through the process.
On the other hand, if your device doesn’t meet these requirements but you’d like to upgrade, you might need to make some hardware upgrades or buy a new device altogether if your current one does not meet the minimum requirements. Either way, the team at Aberdeen Cyber Security are on hand to support you whatever your needs.