Windows 11 is here. Following plenty of speculation, Microsoft officially revealed its next desktop operating system at a virtual launch event on 24 June.
The changes announced represent the biggest changes to Windows for many years, even if they probably don’t justify a brand-new version. The Start Menu and taskbar have been redesigned, the gaming experience upgraded and the ability to run Android apps now natively supported (although you’re limited to the Amazon Appstore).
The so-called ‘next generation of Windows’ will be available to members of the Windows Insider Program as soon as next week, before a final version rolls out to all compatible devices later in the year.
However, not all Windows 10 devices will still be supported. Here’s everything you need to know.
Will my laptop run Windows 11?
Microsoft has updated the minimum hardware 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
- Internet connectivity – required on Windows 11 Home, necessary for many features on Pro and Enterprise versions
As our sister site PC-Welt reports, laptops must have an HD (720p or above) built-in webcam to continue getting updates after 1 January 2023.
That's a lot of technical detail, and might leave you none the wiser when figuring out if your PC will be able to download Windows 11.
Those processor requirements means only recent Intel and AMD CPUs are supported - the full list is 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 Xeon Skylake-SP
- Intel Xeon Cascade Lake-SP
- Intel Xeon Cooper Lake-SP
- Intel Xeon Ice Lake-SP
- AMD Ryzen 2000
- 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
That counts out many of Microsoft's older computers, including theSurface Go (2018) and even the latest Surface Studio 2 (also 2018), which the company is still selling. That makes it highly likely we'll see updates to both these product lines before the end of 2021.
Microsoft released a free 'PC Health Check' app just after Windows 11 was announced, designed to quickly tell people whether their device would be eligible for the free upgrade. However, in response to user criticism, it's since been removed.
Indeed, if you saw a message saying ‘This PC can’t run Windows 11’, it may just be that TPM 2.0 isn’t enabled.
This can be turned on in BIOS settings, usually by holding down the 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.
Once Windows 11 is available, upgrading will be completely free. It’ll likely be as simple as heading into Settings > Update & Security and checking for updates. However, you'll probably be waiting until 2022 for it to appear.
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
However, it's worth noting that this is far from an exhaustive list. Don't rush out to buy a new motherboard until the full lineup is confirmed - we're expecting it prior to Windows 11's official release date.
What to do if my PC won’t be 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, there is a way to get around three of Windows 10's most disruptive hardware requirements. If your PC doesn't support TPM 2.0 and Secure Boot, or have 4GB+ of RAM, these can be manually ignored by making changes to the registry. Learn more in our dedicated guide - How to download Windows 11 on an unsupported PC.
Nonetheless, if you still want to buy a new device, you'll probably have plenty of choice once Windows 11 comes out. Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, Lenovo, Samsung and Microsoft’s own Surface range were all featured in the official Windows 11 trailer, and lots more are expected. We'd be surprised if any OEMs currently making Windows 10 PCs didn't transition to Windows 11 over the next few months.
We don’t know exactly how long it will last, but expect Microsoft to continue offering a free upgrade to Windows 11 for a few months. That means any of the Windows 10 devices in our best laptop chart and plenty more besides will still be supported by the new OS.