You Can Use Windows 11 on Unsupported Hardware, But You May Not Want to

Is your device compatible with the next version of Windows? Image: Microsoft Windows 11 is

A photo of various types of Windows laptops with their screens on the Windows 11 interface

Is your device compatible with the next version of Windows?
Image: Microsoft

Windows 11 is going to be a major upgrade. But before you can get there, Microsoft wants you to have the necessary hardware. The company published a blog post officially detailing the system requirements for Windows 11. It lays out the processors and systems that will be compatible with the new operating system, while also helping clear out some of the confusion caused by the company’s initial guidance on the necessary hardware.

Microsoft’s list of system requirements includes at least a 1GHz or faster CPU, 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of storage. Devices will also need version 2.0 of the Trusted Platform Module (TPM), which aids with security clearance and is available on most modern motherboards.

The list of Windows 11-ready Intel, AMD, and Qualcomm processors includes the usual cadre of Intel 8th Gen and beyond CPUs. Most notably, there’s a chunk of 7th Gen Intel Core Kaby Lake and first-generation AMD Zen CPUs not on the list, which is a bit of a surprise considering these SoCs were released in 2016 and 2017, respectively. The only 7th-generation Intel processors listed as compatible are Intel Core X-series processors, Xeon W-series processors, and, specifically, the Core i7-7820HQ processor, which is the CPU used inside Microsoft’s own Surface Studio 2.

AMD’s first-gen Ryzen chip didn’t make the chopping block. “After carefully analyzing the first generation of AMD Zen processors in partnership with AMD, together we concluded that there are no additions to the supported CPU list,” writes Microsoft. The company adds that devices that didn’t meet the minimum hardware requirements “had 52 percent more kernel mode crashes” in Windows 11, whereas those that met the minimum hardware requirements “had a 99.8 percent crash-free experience.”

If you happen to fall into the category of devices that aren’t officially supported, you can still install Windows 11 with a bit of software sleuthing. Either keep your version of Windows 11 on the Windows Insider Program or create a Windows 11 ISO file and install it manually. But take into consideration Microsoft’s warnings on how the system might perform.

Microsoft explained it settled on the minimum system requirements to prioritize support for things like modern DCH drivers and the aforementioned TPM security. It’s part of a larger move on Microsoft’s end to modernize its long-standing legacy software. The consolidation should help improve the overall reliability of the Windows platform.

Before you plan to update, Microsoft will release a new version of its PC Health Check app to help guide you toward whether your device is ready for Windows 11. The app is currently in testing with Windows Insiders users, though it should be rolling out in the coming weeks.