How to upgrade to Windows 11 whether your PC is supported or not
Windows 11 is here. And now that you’ve had time to read our full review, you might be considering installing the upgrade on your own PC.
We think most people should wait a few months to give Microsoft time to fix the biggest bugs in the new Windows 11 operating system and finish releasing updates for Windows built-in apps. But you might want to install the operating system anyway because you want to test it or because you like to run the latest version. 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 put together all kinds of resources to create a complete installation guide for upgrading to Windows 11. This includes step-by-step tips and instructions to enable officially required features like your TPM and Secure Boot, as well as unofficial ways to bypass system requirements checks on unsupported PCs.
I’ve been running Windows 11 on PCs as old as a 2008 Dell Inspiron 530, and although I’m not saying that’s something you should do is something you can to do.
How to get Windows 11?
The easiest way to get Windows 11 is to check Windows Update on a supported, fully up-to-date Windows 10 PC. But because Microsoft is slowly rolling out Windows 11 over the course of several months, your PC may not yet see it.
Microsoft offers several ways to download Windows 11 manually. The first is to use the Setup Assistant app, which you install on your PC to trigger a normal upgrade installation through Windows Update. The second is to use the Windows 11 Media Creation Tool, which automates the process of creating a bootable USB installation drive or downloading an installation ISO file. Once you have a USB drive, you can either boot from it to perform a clean install, or run the setup app from Windows 10 to perform a normal upgrade install. You can burn the ISO to DVD as well, but installing from any USB drive, even an older USB 2.0 drive, will be much faster, so you shouldn’t. Finally, you can simply 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, whether your PC is officially supported or not, you will be able to install and activate the equivalent edition of Windows 11.
If you are installing Windows 11 on a new PC that you just built yourself, officially you need to purchase a Windows 10 or Windows 11 license. At the time of this writing, the only sites I see selling retail editions Windows 11 are product key scam websites that I would not trust with my credit card information. So I would recommend buying a Windows 10 license from a reputable site. Its product key should work to install and activate Windows 11.
Unofficially, I’ve had some success using the old Windows 7 and Windows 8 product keys to activate equivalent editions of Windows 11 – it’s an open secret that Windows 10 installer would continue to accept these. old product keys long after the “official” free Windows 10 upgrade offer expired in 2016. But we’ve also heard from readers who have had difficulty using these keys with Windows 11 or later versions of Windows 10, so your luck may vary.
What does my PC need to be “taken care of”?
Recall the system requirements for Windows 11:
- A 1 GHz or faster “compatible” 64-bit dual-core processor from Intel, AMD or Qualcomm
- 4 GB RAM
- 64 GB of 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 screen of more than 9 inches
Windows 11 Home requires a Microsoft account and Internet connectivity; Windows 11 Pro can still be used with a local account. Previously, Windows 10 Home allowed you to create a local account as long as you didn’t connect to the internet during setup, but this trick no longer works.
The processor requirement is the most restrictive; supported processors include 8th Generation and newer Intel Core processors as well as AMD Ryzen 2000 and newer series processors. These are all chips that were released in late 2017 and early 2018. Older computers cannot officially run Windows 11. This is a big departure from Windows 10, which was keen to support little. almost anything that could run Windows 7. Where Windows 8.
We get more into the reasoning behind these requirements (and whether they hold up) in our review. But the top three are CPU requirement, TPM requirement, and Secure boot requirement.
How do I know if my PC is supported?
When you open Windows Update in Windows 10, it can tell you whether your PC is supported or not. But the easiest way to check manually is to use Microsoft’s PC Health Check app. The first versions of this app weren’t very good, but the current version will tell you if your PC is compatible as well as Why it is or is not compatible.
If you are not using a supported processor, consider upgrading to a supported processor or skip ahead to the section where we talk about installing Windows 11 on unsupported PCs.
If your processor is supported but you don’t meet TPM or Secure Boot requirements, the good news is that unless something is seriously wrong with your PC, they should both be features you can turn on. in the BIOS of your PC.
How do I access the BIOS of my PC?
Usually, you can enter your BIOS by pressing a key after turning on your PC but before Windows starts to boot. The key varies, but the most common include the Delete key, F2 (for Dell systems), F1 (for Lenovo systems), or F10 (for HP systems).
The consistent but more roundabout way to open your BIOS is to go to the Windows Settings app, then Windows Update, then Recovery, then Reboot Now under “Advanced Boot”. In the basic blue screen that you see next, click Troubleshoot, then Advanced options, and then UEFI Firmware Settings.
How do I activate my TPM?
Enabling your processor’s built-in firmware TPM is easy, but sometimes finding the setting to do it isn’t. If you are not sure what to do, try searching for “[manufacturer of your computer or motherboard] enable TPM ”because many manufacturers have created help pages specifically for Windows 11.
For Intel systems, if you cannot find a setting marked “TPM” somewhere in the chipset or security settings, search for “Platform Trust Technology” or “PTT” and enable it. AMD systems generally call it simply “fTPM”, although you may also see it referred to as “Platform Security Chip” or “PSP”.
Once you’ve activated your TPM, restart Windows and use the Health Check app to make sure it’s working properly.
How do I activate secure boot?
Any computer manufactured since the release of Windows 8 in 2012 must support Secure Boot, which helps 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 is not already enabled, usually in a “Security” or “Boot” section. As with activating your TPM, if you cannot find the setting, consult your PC or motherboard manual.
If your computer won’t start after enabling Secure Boot, don’t worry, just follow a few more steps. The boot failure is most likely due to your hard drive or SSD being configured with an MBR (or Master Boot Record) partition table rather than the new GPT (GUID Partition Table) format required by Secure Boot and UEFI.
To check, right-click the Start button or use the Windows + X keyboard shortcut, then click Disk Management on the menu that appears. Right-click the drive where Windows is installed (in most computers this will be disk 0, 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, this is when you will need to convert the drive.
To convert from MBR to GPT in Windows 10:
- Open Settings, then Windows Update, then Recovery and click “Restart now” under “Advanced startup”.
- When your PC restarts, click the Troubleshoot button, then Advanced options, then Command Prompt.
- In the Command Prompt window, type
mbr2gpt /validateto verify that the drive can be converted. Then type
mbr2gpt /convertto convert the player.
- When finished, re-enable Secure Boot in your BIOS and your PC should boot normally.
If this conversion fails for some reason, the easiest option may be to do a clean reinstallation of Windows 10 or 11 with Secure Boot enabled. When you format the drive and install Windows from a bootable USB stick, it will use GPT instead of MBR.