Windows 11 is arriving later this year as a free upgrade for Windows 10 users, but many are discovering that their hardware isn’t compatible. Microsoft has altered its minimum hardware requirements, and it’s the CPU changes that are most surprising here. Windows 11 will only officially support 8th Gen and newer Intel Core processors, alongside Apollo Lake and newer Pentium and Celeron processors.
That potentially rules out millions of existing Windows 10 devices from upgrading to Windows 11 with full support, and even devices like Microsoft’s own Surface Studio 2 which the company is still selling right now for $3,499. Older devices that aren’t officially supported will be met with a warning during the Windows 11 install that the upgrade is not recommended, but the OS should still install.
Windows 11 will also only officially support AMD Ryzen 2000 and newer processors, and 2nd Gen or newer EPYC chips. You can find the full list of supported processors on Microsoft’s site, but here’s the basic breakdown:
Windows 11 support for Intel
- Intel 8th Gen (Coffee Lake)
- Intel 9th Gen (Coffee Lake Refresh)
- Intel 10th Gen (Comet Lake)
- Intel 10th Gen (Ice Lake)
- Intel 11th Gen (Rocket Lake)
- Intel 11th Gen (Tiger Lake)
- Intel Xeon Skylake-SP
- Intel Xeon Cascade Lake-SP
- Intel Xeon Cooper Lake-SP
- Intel Xeon Ice Lake-SP
Windows 11 support for AMD
- AMD Ryzen 2000
- AMD Ryzen 3000
- AMD Ryzen 3000
- AMD Ryzen 4000
- AMD Ryzen 5000
- AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2000
- AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3000
- AMD Ryzen Threadripper Pro 3000
- AMD EPYC 2nd Gen
- AMD EPYC 3rd Gen
Microsoft notes that CPU generation requirements are a “soft floor” limit for the Windows 11 installer. That should allow some older CPUs to be able to install Windows 11 with a warning, but it’s not clear how these devices will be supported long term.
Many Windows 10 users have been downloading Microsoft’s PC Health App (available here) to see whether Windows 11 works on their systems, only to find it fails the check. As Microsoft now requires a TPM (Trusted Platform Module), this has led to some additional confusion around hardware support.
Windows 11 will require a TPM capable of 2.0 support, and UEFI Secure Boot. Both of these technologies are designed to improve the security of Windows, and prevent malware and ransomware from tampering with encryption keys and other secure elements of the operating system.
While Microsoft has required TPM support for OEM hardware certification since Windows 10, it hasn’t actively required Windows to have this fully enabled. That’s changing in Windows 11, and it means if your laptop or PC shipped without these BIOS options enabled then you’re going to have to go searching for a setting to switch on.
“Almost every CPU in the last 5-7 years has a TPM,” explains David Weston, director of enterprise and OS security at Microsoft. Weston is recommending that Windows 10 users failing Microsoft’s Windows 11 upgrade checker requirements should ensure BIOS options for “PTT” on Intel systems are enabled, or “PSP fTPM” on AMD devices. As every BIOS has different settings, you might need to refer to your laptop’s manual if you’re struggling to find the option.
If you’ve enabled TPM support but you’re still not passing the Windows 11 upgrade checker, it’s likely because your CPU isn’t on the fully supported list. Intel has confirmed Microsoft’s Windows 11 CPU requirements. “A broad range of Intel-based platforms are expected to support Windows 11: 8th Gen and newer Intel Core processors, as well as Intel Pentium processors and Intel Celeron processors from the ‘Apollo Lake’ generation and newer,” says an Intel spokesperson in a statement to The Verge.
This is the first significant shift in Windows hardware requirements since the release of Windows 8 back in 2012, and the CPU changes are understandably catching people by surprise. Microsoft is also requiring a front-facing camera for all Windows 11 devices except desktop PCs from January 2023 onwards. It’s another change that will shape the hardware that Windows 11 will run on in the coming years.
Update, 5:45AM ET: Added details about Microsoft’s soft limit for the Windows 11 installer.