Windows 11 may not leave 7th-gen Intel and 1st-gen Ryzen CPUs in the dust

Windows 11 may not leave 7th-gen Intel and 1st-gen Ryzen CPUs in the dust

When Microsoft released the documentation for Windows 11, it was clear that this is going to be the first time in over a decade that the minimum requirements for Windows have been significantly raised. The minimum RAM and storage have been increased to 4GB and 64GB, respectively. And for CPUs, there’s no more 32-bit support, nor is there support for single-core chips.

But moreover, Microsoft drew a hard line on CPU generations that are supported. For Intel, you need eighth-gen or newer, and for AMD, you need Ryzen 3000 or newer. There was a bit of outrage over this. Fortunately, Microsoft announced today that it might just open things up to Intel’s seventh-generation chips and AMD Zen 1.

In a blog post explaining the new system requirements, it said that Windows 11 is meant to be a set of features, so it needs to be installed on chips that can support those features. That includes eighth-gen and newer Intel, AMD Zen 2, and Qualcomm 7 and 8 series. It also said that Intel sixth-gen and older, and AMD pre-Zen simply can’t meet the criteria for Windows 11. However, Intel’s seventh-generation chips and AMD Zen 1 might be OK. It’s going to test them out with Insiders.

Specifically, the blog post said, “As we release to Windows Insiders and partner with our OEMs, we will test to identify devices running on Intel 7th generation and AMD Zen 1 that may meet our principles. We’re committed to sharing updates with you on the results of our testing over time, as well as sharing additional technical blogs.”

While TPM 2.0 is a requirement for Windows 11, that’s not the only thing that the new chips are required for. There are other security features to be considered, such as virtualization-based security (VBS), hypervisor-protected code integrity (HVCI), and Secure Boot. Plus, the CPU needs to have adopted the new Windows Driver model.

This explains why the minimum requirements for Windows 11 when it ships are different from the requirements for testing it out in the Windows Insider Program. You’ll be able to enroll a PC with a seventh-gen Intel CPU, such as the very newest Microsoft Surface Studio 2, but you might not be able to run Windows 11 when it comes out.

One other thing that Microsoft noted is that it’s pulling the PC Health app, which was designed to help you know if your PC is compatible with Windows 11. It’s going to work on making it even better, and then it will re-release the app. Meanwhile, third-party tools already do a better job at telling you why your PC can’t run Windows 11, though those will need to be updated in light of today’s clarification on the minimum requirements.

Update: Microsoft has already removed the part of its blog post that said that Intel sixth-gen and earlier chips, and AMD pre-Zen processors definitely don’t meet its criteria.

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Rich Woods
Rich Woods

Managing Editor for XDA Computing. I've been covering tech from smartphones to PCs since 2013. If you see me at a trade show, come say hi and let me ask you weird questions about why you use the tech you use.