Windows 11: Officially Supported Processors vs. Minimum System Requirements

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With Windows 11, Microsoft has significantly reduced the list of officially supported processors: If the company still listed Intel’s Broadwell CPUs (Core i-5000) from 2015 in the latest Windows 10 update 21H1, Windows 11 support does not start until the Core i-8000 series aka Coffee Lake from 2017. In the case of AMD, it starts with Ryzen 2000 processors from 2018.

Microsoft has two specific model names Support Lists for AMD Processors and Intel CPUs on. Nevertheless, Windows 11 can be installed on older systems without any problems. Microsoft itself suggests it with the minimum system requirements: A two-core 64-bit processor with a clock frequency of 1 GHz is sufficient.

So where does the discrepancy come from? The two processor lists are about support for PC manufacturers who, for example, cannot equip a desktop PC with a Core i7-6700K and are allowed to stick a Windows 11 sticker on it. The same game on notebooks with older hardware. You can very well take your Core i7-6700K computer at home and install Windows 11. A Microsoft-Tool (Download) checks whether your own PC is fit for Windows 11.

Microsoft is tightening the security screws when switching from Windows 10 to 11. UEFI Secure Boot is a prerequisite, but not activated on all existing PCs. Entering “msinfo32” in the start menu takes you to “System Information”, where you can see whether your PC is already starting via UEFI Secure Boot.

The UEFI Secure Boot function is called “Safe Boot State” in German Windows. The system information (msinfo32) shows directly whether the “safe start state” is active. If this is the case, the UEFI boot mode is always active because Secure Boot is a UEFI function. In other words: computers that boot in BIOS mode do not have a “Safe Boot State”. Incidentally, the BIOS boot mode is called “BIOS mode: previous version” in the system information.

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Windows 10 overview of the “system information”: If the “BIOS mode” is set to “UEFI”, your Windows 10 is basically ready for an upgrade to Windows 11.

(Image: Christof Windeck / c’t)

The UEFI start mode and also Secure Boot must be activated in the computer’s BIOS setup. Caution: The previously installed Windows will no longer start if you switch from the BIOS to the UEFI-compatible start mode without further ado (among other things, because Windows for the former places the system partition on a “Master Boot Record” -[MBR-]Data carrier required, but for the latter on a data carrier with a GUID partition table [GPT]).

If the system starts in UEFI mode, you can easily switch Secure Boot on or off. The options required for this can often be found in a BIOS setup menu called “Security”, “Boot” or something similar.

In the Intel UEFI, the Secure Boot option can be found in the “Security” tab. Other manufacturers include the function in the “Boot” menu, for example.

(Image: Christof Windeck / c’t)

With the Windows command line tool MBR2GPT.exe, an SSD or HDD with an existing Windows installation can be reformatted without data loss under certain conditions. If this is not possible, you will have to completely reinstall Windows. Instructions for MBR2GPT.exe can be found here:

With some systems, when activating Secure Boot, you first have to confirm that you want to load the standard signatures for it. These include those from Microsoft – and that’s exactly what Windows 11 is about. Secure Boot must therefore be activated in “Standard” mode, not in “Setup” or “Custom” mode with other cryptographic certificates. Before restarting, you usually have to expressly confirm the changes to the BIOS setup, otherwise they will not be adopted.

Due to the complexity, we deal with the requirements for a Trusted Platform Module (TPM or fTPM) in a separate article:


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