Here is the right way to improve to Home windows 11 whether or not your PC is supported or not
Enlarge / You name it, we tried installing Windows 11 on it.
Windows 11 is here. And now that you’ve had time to read our full review, you might think about installing the upgrade on your own PC.
We think most people should wait a few months to give Microsoft time to iron out the biggest bugs in Windows 11 in new operating systems and finish releasing updates for the built-in Windows apps. But you might want to install the operating system anyway because you want to test it or because you want to run the latest. Or maybe you want to install Windows 11 on an “unsupported” PC because Microsoft is not your parent and therefore cannot tell you what to do.
We’ve gathered all kinds of resources to create a comprehensive installation guide for upgrading to Windows 11. This includes advice and some step-by-step guides on how to enable officially required features like TPM and Secure Boot, as well as official and unofficial ways to bypass the system requirement checks on unsupported PCs.
I’ve run Windows 11 on PCs as old as a 2008 Dell Inspiron 530 and while I’m not saying you should, it is something you can do.
How do I get Windows 11?
The easiest way to get Windows 11 is to check Windows Update on a supported, fully current Windows 10 PC. But since Microsoft Windows 11 is rolling out slowly over the course of many months, your PC may not see it yet.
Microsoft offers several ways to manually download Windows 11. On the one hand, you use the Installation Assistant app that you install on your PC to trigger a normal upgrade installation via Windows Update. The second option is to use the Windows 11 Media Creation Tool, which automates the process of creating a bootable USB installation drive or downloading an ISO installation file. Once you have a USB drive, you can either boot from it to do a fresh installation or run the setup app in Windows 10 for a normal upgrade installation. You can burn the ISO to a DVD as well, but installing from any USB drive, even an old USB 2.0 drive, will be much faster, so don’t do this. Finally, you can just download an ISO file directly from Microsoft’s site.
Do I have to pay for it?
Windows 11 is a free upgrade to Windows 10. So if you are running Windows 10 Home or Pro on your PC, regardless of whether your PC is officially supported or not, you can install and activate the appropriate edition of Windows 11.
If you’re installing Windows 11 on a new PC that you’ve just built yourself, you should officially buy a Windows 10 or Windows 11 license. As of this writing, the only websites that sell retail editions of Windows 11 are fraudulent product key websites that I wouldn’t trust my credit card information to, so I would recommend buying a Windows 10 license from a reputable website. The product key should work to install and activate Windows 11.
Unofficially, I’ve had some success with old Windows 7 and Windows 8 product keys to activate equivalent editions of Windows 11 – it’s an open secret that the Windows 10 installer will accept these older product keys long after the “official” free Windows 10 upgrade offer expired in 2016. However, we’ve also heard from readers who had problems using these keys with Windows 11 or later versions of Windows 10. So your luck can vary.
What does my PC need to be “supported”?
Let’s review the Windows 11 system requirements:
- A “compatible” 1 GHz or faster dual-core 64-bit processor from Intel, AMD, or Qualcomm
- 4 GB of RAM
- 64 GB storage
- UEFI Secure Boot supported and enabled
- A Trusted Platform Module (TPM), version 2.0
- A DirectX 12 compatible GPU with a WDDM 2.0 driver
- A 720p display that is more than 9 inches in size
Windows 11 Home requires a Microsoft account and an internet connection; Windows 11 Pro can still be used with a local account. Windows 10 Home used to let you create a local account as long as you didn’t connect to the internet during setup, but this trick no longer works.
The processor requirements are the most restrictive; Supported processors include 8th generation and newer Intel Core processors and AMD Ryzen 2000 series and newer processors. These are all chips that hit the market in late 2017 and early 2018. Older computers cannot officially run Windows 11. This is a huge departure from Windows 10, which was aimed at supporting pretty much anything Windows 7 or Windows 8 could run.
In our test, we will go into more detail about the reasons for these requirements (and whether they hold up). But the big three are the CPU requirement, the TPM requirement, and the Secure Boot requirement.
How can I tell if my PC is supported?
Windows Update can tell you if your PC is supported, but the PC Health Check app still gives you the most detailed information.
The version of the message you will receive if your PC is supported.
When you open Windows Update in Windows 10, you may see whether or not your PC is supported. However, the easiest way to check this is manually using Microsoft’s PC Health Check app. Early versions of this app weren’t very good, but the current version will tell you if your PC is compatible and why it is compatible or not.
If you’re not using a supported processor, either plan to upgrade to a supported CPU or skip to the section where we talk about installing Windows 11 on unsupported PCs.
If your processor is supported but you don’t meet the TPM or Secure Boot requirements, the good news is that both of these are features that you can enable in your PC’s BIOS unless your PC is right something not.
How do I get into the BIOS of my PC?
Typically, you can enter your BIOS by pressing a key after turning on your PC, but before Windows begins to start. The key varies, but common ones are the delete key, F2 (for Dell systems), F1 (for Lenovo systems), or F10 (for HP systems).
The consistent but cumbersome way to open your BIOS is to go to the Windows Settings app, then to Windows Update, then to Recovery, and then restart under Advanced Startup. On the next blue screen, click Troubleshoot, then Advanced Options, and then click UEFI Firmware Settings.
How do I activate my TPM?
Enabling your processor’s built-in firmware TPM is easy, but sometimes you can’t find the setting for it. If you’re not sure what you’re doing, search for “[manufacturer of your computer or motherboard] enable TPM ”, since many manufacturers have created help pages especially for Windows 11.
If you cannot find a setting labeled “TPM” in the chipset or security settings on Intel systems, search for “Platform Trust Technology” or “PTT” and enable them. AMD systems usually just refer to it as “fTPM”, although it may also be referred to as “Platform Security Processor” or “PSP”.
After activating your TPM, restart Windows and use the Health Check app to make sure it is working properly.
How do I activate Secure Boot?
Any computer manufactured since Windows 8 was released in 2012 should support Secure Boot to prevent unsigned and potentially malicious software from loading during your PC’s startup process. You should be able to enable it in your PC’s BIOS, if it’s not already enabled, usually in either the Security or Boot section. If you can’t find the setting, just like enabling your TPM, check your PC or motherboard manual.
If your computer won’t start after enabling Secure Boot, don’t worry – there are just a few extra steps you need to take. The failure to boot is most likely due to the fact that your hard drive or SSD is set up with an MBR partition table (or master boot record) rather than the newer GPT (GUID partition table) format which is used for both Secure Boot and UEFI is required.
To check this, right-click the Start button or use the Windows + X keyboard shortcut and then click Disk Management in the menu that appears. Right-click the drive where Windows is installed (it is Disk 0 on most computers, but not always if you have multiple hard drives), then click Properties, then check the Volumes tab. If your partition style is listed as MBR, then you need to convert the drive.
If your drive is using the older MBR partition style, you will need to convert it to GPT before you can enable Secure Boot.
How to convert from MBR to GPT in Windows 10:
- Open Settings, then Windows Update, then Recovery and click on “Restart Now” under “Advanced Startup”.
- When your PC restarts, click the Troubleshoot button, then Advanced Options, and then click Command Prompt.
- In the Command Prompt window, type mbr2gpt / validate to verify that the drive can be converted. Then enter mbr2gpt / convert to convert the drive.
- When it’s done, re-enable Secure Boot in your BIOS and your PC should boot normally.
If this conversion fails for any reason, the easiest option might be to do a clean reinstall of Windows 10 or 11 with Secure Boot enabled. If you format the drive and install Windows from a bootable USB stick, GPT will be used instead of MBR.