Microsoft's latest operating system, Windows 11, promises PC users a range of potential benefits, advanced features, consolidation capabilities, and a smoother and more secure user experience.
However, when migrating to new operating system versions, compatibility can become a big problem. As a result, companies need to make a well-informed decision to replace the affected hardware or update existing systems.
If your computer system does not meet the minimum requirements, you may not be able to install Windows 11. However, Microsoft may ease some of these restrictions in the future and allow older generation CPUs.
This article will examine the different components to determine if you can upgrade your Windows 10 PC to Windows 11 or replace your PC.
Let's start with one of the not so apparent components:
Before announcing the new operating system, the Trusted Platform Module (TPM) was little known but is now a mandatory requirement for Windows 11.
TPM is a cryptoprocessor that protects the computer at the hardware level, using an integrated encryption mechanism to prevent attacks. It works with other subsystems and applications within the PC.
Because it is hardware-based, it is much more secure than software-only encryption. Unfortunately, this means that you cannot upgrade to Windows 11 without TPM 2 installed and activated on your computer.
You can check your version in the Windows Security App > Device Security > Security Processor > Security Processor details and verify that the “Specification Version” is 2, as earlier versions are not compatible.
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Depending on your hardware manufacturer, you may be able to upgrade your TPM version.
You need a dual or multi-core compatible 64-bit processor or “SoC” of a minimum of 1 GHz to run the system. In practice, this means that the following desktop and laptop CPUs are compatible with Windows 11.
- 8th generation Intel Core (Coffee Lake, Whiskey Lake) and later processors.
- AMD Zen+ (Ryzen 2000, Threadripper 2000, Ryzen 3000G APU) and newer processors.
It is also worth considering DRAM requirements and whether the memory will work with the CPU.
The minimum RAM/DRAM requirement for Windows 11 installation is at least 4 GB of memory, but it is not recommended you need at least 8GB for optimal performance.
Another relevant factor is the change in RAM technology. There has recently been a switch from 8Gbit to 16 Gbit DRAM models, which is now compatible with the latest Intel processors (8th generation or newer), delivering much faster performance. This provides an excellent opportunity to modernize Windows 11 with cost-effective memory expansions.
SSD (Solid State Drives)
Windows 11 requires at least 64GB of storage, which now supports SATA and NVMe-based SSDs. As the storage requirements of the new operating system alone exceed 50 GB, it is essential to check the storage capacity and choose a suitable SDD with some space to spare.
Another new storage feature is “DirectStorage,” which uses the computer's NVME SSD storage to speed up load times and free up CPU resources, but only when running PC games.
At the same time, the broader adoption of NVMe-based drives is acting as a catalyst for the use of NVMe for high-speed apps. Therefore, by expanding the speed and capacity of the device storage and memory expansion, performance can be cost-effectively improved.
Upgrade or Replace?
Options for upgrading hardware in the context of changing technology may be limited. However, with fewer and fewer vendors producing legacy technologies, the decision between upgrading or replacing should be based on the price range and availability of current and mainstream technologies.
For those with a reasonably recent hardware (2-3 years old) laptop and desktop, upgrading can extend the life of the device and improve performance, security, and user experience. On the other hand, if you are rocking an older PC and your hardware is not supported you may be better of with a new computer.