Tried upgrading to Windows 11 only to discover Microsoft’s latest OS version can’t run on your PC? Before you run out and buy a whole new computer, there are a few things you can try first. Here’s what to do.
Windows 11 Hardware Requirements
Before you do anything, you’ll want to make sure that your PC has the following minimum hardware requirements necessary to run Windows 11. Unfortunately, if your PC doesn’t meet these requirements, you won’t be able to run Windows 11.
Check below to see if your computer has what it takes:
- 1 GHz or faster with 2 or more cores on a compatible 64-bit processor or System on a Chip (SoC)
- 4GB RAM
- 64GB or larger storage
- UEFI, Secure Boot capable firmware
- Trusted Platform Module version 2.0
- Graphics card compatible with DirectX 12 or later with WDDM 2.0 driver
- High definition (720p) display greater than 9” diagonally, 8 bits per colour channel
- For all editions of Windows 11, internet access is required to perform updates and take advantage of some features. Furthermore, a Microsoft account is required for certain features.
Run PC Health Check
If you want to install Windows 11 on your device, the easiest way to determine if it is compatible is by running Microsoft’s PC Health Check. PC Health Check is a diagnostic tool that has some maintenance features, however its main function is to check whether or not a PC is capable of running Windows 11. It achieves this by automatically assessing a PC’s hardware to ensure that it meets or exceeds the requirements listed in the previous section.
Many Windows 10 users will find that the PC Health Check app is already installed on their PC, provided that they have enabled automatic updates on their machine. If you do not have PC Health Check, you can install it manually.
Once you’ve installed the PC Health Check app, use the Search field on the taskbar to search for it. From the list of results, click on PC Health Check and the program will launch. To see if your PC can run Windows 11, simply click on the button labeled “Check now” underneath the “Introducing Windows 11” banner.
If you can install Windows 11 on your device, that’s great! You don’t need to read any further. However, if you’re like me, you’re running into as message that tells you that your PC currently doesn’t meet the Windows 11 system requirements.
Unfortunately, PC Health Check doesn’t really go into detail as to how you can rectify some of these compatibility issues. The most common problems that folks run into have to do with TPM and Secure Boot.
What is TPM?
TPM stands for Trusted Platform Module. The TPM is a physical security chip found on a PC’s motherboard that generates and stores encryption keys. On Windows 10, a computer would need a TPM in order to execute certain functions, such as BitLocker. That being said, a TPM was not required to install Windows, until now.
Windows 11 requires TPM (version 2.0) to configure the operating system’s security features. If you attempt to install Windows 11 on a device that does not have a TPM 2.0 chip, you will be unable to proceed with the installation. This is true even if your computer meets and exceeds all of the other Windows 11 hardware requirements.
What is Secure Boot?
Secure Boot is a security feature that prevents malware from loading when your PC boots up. The good news is that most modern PCs are capable of Secure Boot. The bad news is that some devices do not have Secure Boot turned on by default. Fortunately, there is a way to enable Secure Boot through the BIOS of your PC.
How to Find Out if Your PC Has a TPM
The good news is that finding out whether your PC has a TPM (Trusted Platform Module) is super simple.
- Press Win + R. This will launch the Run dialog box.
- Type in
tpm.mscand hit Enter or click the OK button.
- Doing so will open a Window labelled TPM Management on Local Computer. This will tell you whether or not your PC has a Trusted Platform Module. Additionally, it will also reveal the TPM version on your PC. Be aware that in order to install Windows 11, you’ll need TPM 2.0.
- Alternatively, if you see a message that reads “Compatible TPM cannot be found”, this means one of two things. Either your PC does not have a TPM, or your PC has a TPM, but it has been disabled in the BIOS. Unfortunately, there’s no way of knowing if you have a disabled TPM without doing a bit of digging.
Enabling a TPM requires you to do so via your PC’s UEFI BIOS. The BIOS is the software that runs before Windows when you turn on your PC. Before you proceed, be aware that messing around with your PC’s motherboard settings can prevent your device from booting properly. Therefore, follow the instructions in the next section carefully, unless you know exactly what you’re doing.
How to Enable TPM on Your PC
- To get started, click the Start button and open the Settings menu by clicking on the cog icon.
- Within the Settings menu, click on “Update & Security”.
- Go to Recovery.
- In the “Advanced Startup” section, click on the “Restart Now” button.
- On the next screen, click on Troubleshoot.
- Now go to “Advanced options-> UEFI Firmware Settings-> Restart”.
Note: if your PC does not show these options (or if you aren’t running Windows 10), you can still access the BIOS when you boot up your PC. When your PC first boots, you’ll see a splash screen during the initial boot process. You’ll need to hit a specific key while this screen is visible in order to access the BIOS. Usually, the key is identified at the bottom of this splash screen. Most often it is one of the function keys (F1, F2 etc), Delete or Escape. Refer to manufacturer documentation if needed.
When your PC reboots you will be in the UEFI BIOS. Next, you’ll want to navigate to a sub-menu that has the TPM settings. To make things difficult, there isn’t a universal naming convention that every manufacturer adheres to. So you’ll want to poke around and look for something like Security, Security Settings, Advanced Security or Trusted Computing.
Once you find the relevant menu, you’ll be able to enable the TPM on your device (provided it has one installed).
Now that you’ve enabled the TPM, you can exit the UEFI settings and restart your PC. When your PC reboots, the TPM will be on and you’ll be able to install Windows 11.
That being said, if you can’t find the menu where the TPM settings are hiding, don’t start clicking things in frustration. As we mentioned earlier, making changes in your PC’s BIOS can turn your PC into a very expensive paperweight. We recommend that you consult the website of the manufacturer that made your device. They will have documentation that will tell you step-by-step how to get to your device’s TPM settings.
How to Enable Secure Boot
As with the TPM, to enable Secure Boot you’ll need to access your PC’s BIOS. For instructions on how to get there, refer to the previous section. Once you’ve reached your PC’s BIOS, you’ll want to locate the Secure Boot setting. Unfortunately, like the TPM settings, the Secure Boot settings can be tricky to find.
On most PC’s you’ll find Secure Boot hiding in either the Security, Boot or Authentication sections. Once you’ve located it, simply enable it, save your changes and exit the BIOS and your PC will reboot with Secure Boot enabled.
In rare cases, your PC will fail to reboot after you enable Secure Boot. If this is the case with your PC, jump back into the BIOS and disable Secure Boot. Unfortunately, certain hardware like graphics cards and software are not compatible with Secure Boot. You can attempt to uninstall any of these that are not compatible and then re-enable Secure Boot. In some cases, you may need to refresh or remove everything to its original state before you can turn on Secure Boot.
Refreshing your PC doesn’t delete any of your personal files or change any of your settings, so this is a good place to start.
- To refresh your PC, open the Settings menu and click “Update & Security”.
- Next, click Recovery.
- Under the “Reset this PC” subheading click the “Get started” button. Doing so will open a new window, prompting you to choose whether to keep your files or remove everything.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What if I can’t install Windows 11?
If you discover that your PC is unable to run Windows 11, don’t freak out. It just means that you’re stuck with Windows 10. Fortunately, Microsoft is still planning to support Windows 10 for another five years. So you’ll still get performance and security updates.
2. Can I uninstall PC Health Check?
Despite having some superfluous features, PC Health Check is primarily a diagnostic tool used to determine if a device can run Windows 11. So, if you don’t want to run Windows 11, or you’ve already run the app and found your answer, you don’t really need to keep it installed on your device. To uninstall it, type “add remove programs” into the Search field on the taskbar. From the search results, click “Add or remove programs”. In the Settings window that pops up, find PC Health Check and uninstall it. Be aware, however, that some Windows users are reporting that PC Health Check reappears on their PC after installing Windows updates.
3. What can I do if my PC doesn’t have a TPM?
If your PC ticks all of the boxes for Windows 11 but your motherboard doesn’t have a Trusted Platform Module chip, you have two options. The first is to simply buy a new PC. We know it’s not ideal, but it’s a possibility. You could also try installing a TPM yourself, or get someone to do it for you.
Image credit: Unsplash
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