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Issue #785: August 7-13, 2022

Q: Dear Geek, I have a tower running Windows 10. Windows Update tells me that the PC doesn’t meet minimum requirements to run Windows 11. PC Health Check tells me my CPU i7-7700@3.60 GHz does not support Windows 11. I called Dell fully expecting them to sell me another CPU, but they made it clear that there was no way they could help me. Should I wait until Windows 10 is no longer supported and buy a new computer; download Window 11 ISO, make a bootable flash drive, and install Win 11 OS manually (whatever that means); or attempt to buy another CPU that supports Windows 11?

– Ronald R.
Niceville, Florida

A:  Dear Ronald, I hope you didn’t miss my discussion on a similar topic just a few issues ago in response to reader Keith N. in issue #782.  I said it was “similar” because although both questions are generally about whether to stick with Windows 10, you brought up something in your question that Keith did not, and that is the possibility of strong-arming the installation of Windows 11 to get it onto a system that Microsoft claims doesn’t support it.

Yes, it absolutely is possible to force an installation of Windows 11 onto supposedly incompatible hardware.  Some of the so-called requirements that Microsoft imposed on hardware to run Windows 11 are well-meaning attempts to create secure computing environments for users if Windows 11, but have nothing to do with whether the machine is actually capable of running the new operating system.  The biggest, and most controversial of these requirements is the presence of a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) version 2.0 or higher.  While Microsoft may “want” you to have one, the OS doesn’t actually “need” one.

As for your processor, the Intel i7-7700 that you described dates back to 2017. When it comes to performance, it was no slouch in its day.  I looked it up on PassMark Software’s website at TinyURL.com/IGTM-0785a, and it scored a “CPU Mark” of 8,653.  That sounds pretty impressive, until you realize that more contemporary processors have scores in the range of 20,000, 40,000, 80,000 and even higher. Unfortunately, Microsoft doesn’t list processor requirements by benchmark score.  Their website lists the specification of the processor as “1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster with 2 or more cores on a compatible 64-bit processor or System on a Chip (SoC).”  The i7-7700 is a 64-bit, quad-core processor, and yours is running at 3.6 GHz.  All of those specs exceed the minimum, so that sure sounds compatible to me.  However, only the brain trust at Microsoft knows how much CPU horsepower is actually required so that you, the end user, have a smooth user experience that is not marred by frustrating lags for applications to launch or other windows to pop-up.  Now, as I said, it is possible to force through an installation with a registry tweak.  However, if you do so, the system may not perform to your satisfaction, and beyond that, Microsoft might just decline to provide you with security updates. So, choose wisely whether this path is for you.

The actual process you mentioned near the end of your question is a method to do an end-run around Windows and force the load to occur. You have all the terminology right, even if you don’t understand what it all means.  In short, you download a Windows 11 disk image (the “ISO file”) from the Microsoft Website.  To the computer, this file looks and acts exactly like a CD, and can be used like one, even if you don’t have a CD/DVD drive in your computer.  This process uses it as the install disk, and per Microsoft’s own website, an “image install” such as this bypasses the TPU and CPU requirements checks.  From what I have read, that is not always the case.

You modify your system’s registry to bypass the check for the TPM module, and the CPU requirements.  All of the usual warnings about working in the Registry apply here.  Tread very lightly, and make only the changes you’re told, and make them exactly as shown. 

You can find all the instructions you need on the How-To Geek website in an article entitled “How to Install Windows 11 on an Unsupported PC.”  For your convenience and ease of access I’ve created a shortcut to the article at TinyURL.com/IGTM-0785b.  Please remember, if you decide to force-install Windows 11 like this you are doing something contrary to Microsoft’s recommendation.  So, you won’t get much from them by way of support if something goes wrong.  Good luck


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