Windows 11 is out now. Microsoft officially announced its new operating system last June, although we had to wait until October for it to begin rolling out.
The new OS represents the biggest change we've seen to Windows for many years, even if there aren't many differences under the surface. The Start Menu and taskbar have been redesigned, the gaming experience upgraded and the ability to run Android apps natively supported - even if the latter is officially limited to the Amazon Appstore.
Free upgrades for compatible Windows 10 devices were expected to take until mid-2022 to be delivered, but Microsoft is ahead of schedule. In January 2022, the company announced Windows 11 was entering "its final phase of availability", although you download Windows 11 right now on all hardware that meets the requirements.
These are significantly more strict than Windows 10, with Microsoft supposedly prioritising security. But does that mean your device won't be able to get Windows 11? Here's everything you need to know.
What are the Windows 11 hardware requirements?
Microsoft has updated the minimum system requirements for Windows 11. All current and future PCs will need the following in order to be compatible:
- A processor of 1Ghz or faster with at least 2 cores on compatible 64-bit processor or system on a chip (SoC)
- At least 4GB of RAM
- At least 64GB of on-device storage – more may be required for subsequent updates
- Graphics card that’s compatible with DirectX 12 or later and has WDDM 2.0 driver
- UEFI firmware
- Secure Boot support
- TPM (Trusted Platform Module) version 2.0
- Display at least 9in at 720p resolution and with 8 bits per colour channel
- Video camera (usually at least 720p)
- Internet connectivity – required on Windows 11 Home, necessary for many features on Pro and Enterprise versions
Key information about your device can be found in Settings > System > About, but that won't tell you everything. It can be very difficult to determine if your PC or laptop meets all of the hardware requirements.
However, Microsoft has a free 'PC Health Check' app which can tell you exactly that. It's available to download from the bottom of the main Windows 11 page, and is much more reliable than the first iteration.
It can now tell you TPM 2.0 isn't enabled but your CPU supports it. To change this, you'll need to head to BIOS settings. This varies by manufacturer, but usually involves hitting Esc, Del or a function key (often F2) while your PC is turning on. It’s typically referred to as ‘PTT’ on Intel CPUs, while it can be known as ‘PSP fTPM’ on AMD-powered devices.
Enabling Secure Boot is also necessary to run Windows 11, and can be accessed via the BIOS (or UEFI) settings too. However, it's worth checking whether it's already turned on first. Just search for and open the System Information window from the Windows 10 desktop, then check the 'Secure Boot State' under 'System Summary'.
Will my laptop run Windows 11?
Those processor requirements means only recent CPUs are supported, although Microsoft has recently expanded the list. It's currently as follows:
- 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 12th Gen (Alder Lake)
- Intel Xeon Skylake-SP
- Intel Xeon Cascade Lake-SP
- Intel Xeon Cooper Lake-SP
- Intel Xeon Ice Lake-SP
- Intel Core X-series
- Intel Xeon® W-series
- Intel Core 7820HQ
- AMD Ryzen 2000
- AMD Ryzen 3000
- AMD Ryzen 4000
- AMD Ryzen 5000
- AMD Ryzen 6000
- AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2000
- AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3000
- AMD Ryzen Threadripper Pro 3000
- AMD EPYC 2nd Gen
- AMD EPYC 3rd Gen
This shouldn't be an issue for most people - the vast majority of Windows 10 laptops are compatible with Windows 11. If a device you like is only available running Windows 10 out of the box, Microsoft now provides the option to go straight to the new version when setting it up.
In most cases, it's not necessary to buy a new device which has Windows 11 pre-installed. Read more in our separate guide: Should I still buy a Windows 10 laptop or PC?
However, if you are in the market for a new laptop, the vast majority of new devices run the OS out of the box. That includes many of the best laptops you can buy, as well as plenty of high-profile Surface products.
Will my desktop PC run Windows 11?
Almost all the same laptop hardware requirements also apply to desktop PCs. You'll still need a recent Intel, AMD or ARM-based processor, alongside at least 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage.
However, you'll also need a compatible motherboard. Some of the leading motherboard manufacturers have confirmed which existing models will be compatible with Windows 11. Here's the full list so far:
- Asus (Intel): C261 Series, C422 Series, X299 Series, Z590 Series, Q570 Series, H570 Series, B560 Series, H510 Series, Z490 Series, Q470 Series, H470 Series, B460 Series, H410 Series, W480 Series, Z390 Series, Z370 Series, H370 Series, B365 Series, B360 Series, H310 Series, Q370 Series, C246 Series
- Asus (AMD): WRX80 Series, TRX40 Series, X570 Series, B550 Series, A520 Series, X470 Series, B450 Series, X370 Series, B350 Series, A320 Series
- Biostar (Intel): Z590 Series, B560 Series, B460 Series, H510 Series, B250 Series
- Biostar (AMD): X570 Series, B550 Series, A520 Series, B450 Series, X470 Series, X370 Series, B350 Series, A320 Series
- Gigabyte (Intel): X299 Series, C621 Series, C232 Series, C236 Series, C246 Series, C200 Series, C300 Series, C400 Series, C500 Series
- Gigabyte (AMD): TRX40 Series, 300 Series, 400 Series, 500 Series
- MSI (Intel): 500 Series, 400 Series, 300 Series, 200 Series, 100 Series, X299 Series
- MSI (AMD): 500 Series, 400 Series, 300 Series, TRX40 Series, X399 Series
- ASRock (Intel): 300 Series, 400 Series, 500 Series, X299 Series
- ASRock (AMD): 300 Series, 400 Series, 500 Series, TRX40 Series
What to do if my PC isn't supported
If your PC isn’t eligible for Windows 11, it’s probably because you’re using older or less powerful hardware. Some people will be able to upgrade their desktop PCs to meet the new requirements, but most other people will need to buy a new device.
However, judging by a recent video, it looks like Intel's legacy Pentium 4 processor can still work with Windows 11 - these chips were discontinued back in 2008. The YouTube channel Carlos S. M. Computers has posted what claims to be the final Windows 11 build running on one of these old CPUs. It even shows Microsoft's PC Health Check app suggesting it's compatible.
The poor performance here makes it unusable for most people on a regular basis, but it raises the prospect of running the OS on other devices that aren't officially eligible. Read more on this in our tutorial: How to download Windows 11 on an unsupported PC
However, Microsoft is clamping down on users running Windows 11 on hardware that's not supported. They will soon be treated like an unactivated version of Windows, with frequent reminders within Settings and watermark directly on the desktop. Even though most features will still work properly, it's recommended you roll back to Windows 10 in this situation.