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PSA: Scalpers are hoarding TPM2.0 modules (of course they are), don't pay $100 for one

TPM
TPM (Image credit: Richard Devine / Windows Central)

It has been discovered that scalpers are hoarding trusted platform modules (specifically TPM2.0 modules) ahead of the Windows 11 launch. Unfortunately, this blight on humanity continues to be a costly thorn in the side of consumers who get wrapped up in the fear of missing out and wanting a product right now. We've seen a similar situation with even the best graphics card.

Shen Ye, senior director of hardware and products at HTC, spotted the scalping of TPM2.0 modules on eBay, and we've confirmed the case with other classified sites and listings. A small component that connects to a motherboard header usually costs in the region of $20. You can currently find listings for $100 and we're likely only just getting started.

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Plenty of modern motherboards support TPM in the form of firmware, which can be enabled through the UEFI. Laptops and pre-built PCs can come with TPM either soldered or already attached to the mainboard. But there are instances where TPM isn't supported, which is where a module such as this can come into play.

It's likely your PC doesn't actually need (nor supports) a physical TPM2.0 module.

Strangely, this is such a niche component since not all motherboards will require a physical TPM2.0 module. Then of those that do require one, many may not even have the required header. The whole situation surrounding trusted platform module support and the enforcement by Microsoft for Windows 11 requirements has created a mess for consumers.

If you need to check to see if your PC has TPM2.0 support, you can achieve this by visiting the UEFI or BIOS. There should be an option for TPM 2.0 somewhere (like our image at the top of this very article). If you see something similar, activate it and you'll be good for Windows 11. If not, try updating your UEFI or BIOS and check again.

TPM Module Scalper

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

During a period of silicon shortage, Redmond couldn't have chosen a worse time to announce such a requirement, but things could change before Windows 11 is released. If your motherboard does require a TPM2.0 module (and has a physical header), we'd only recommend buying one at MSRP and from reputable sources. Don't give in to the scalpers. You can purchase an entirely new motherboard and CPU for almost the same price.

Rich Edmonds
Rich Edmonds

Rich Edmonds is Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him over on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.

16 Comments
  • All Ryzen CPUs should have support for firmware TPM in the BIOS. Recent Intel CPUs should also support it but its called PTT instead. Frankly anything that doesn't have firmware level TPM isn't likely gonna be run to Windows 11 anyways. Getting a discrete TPM module is more to get around the short comings of firmware level TPM in which the data is stored with the BIOS data and get wiped anytime that gets reset (like a BIOS upgrade for instance).
  • Absolutely, but most Windows 10 users won't know this, unfortunately. They'll see the module as a must-buy even though there's a good chance their mobo doesn't even have the header and supports it through the chipset natively. 🤦
  • 1) Always back up your BitLocker keys - easily done to your Microsoft account
    2) UEFI (BIOS) upgrade does not wipe the data, but a UEFI "Reset to Defaults" may well do so
    3) Always back up your BitLocker keys (worth repeating)
  • Do the Home version of Windows automatically backup your BitLocker keys to your Microsoft account?
  • Does Home version even support BitLocker at all? I thought it was just Pro Windows that had it
  • Don't you have to solder this?
  • No, firmware one either exists or doesn't in the UEFI of your motherbord. For physical chip that connects to the headers, it's like when you connect the USB on the front of your PC case to the motherboard, it just slides onto the pins
  • I'm wondering what specifically requires TPM enforcement in Windows 11.
  • That's what I'd like to know. Could it be a requirement with WSA? As far as I know FireOS doesn't have anything similar to Samsung's Knox that would facilitate it. Something else to do with the store or new policies? The upgrade to the update system use it for verifying downloaded updates? People will probably come up with fantastic uses for TPM just by trying to figure out why Microsoft required it seemingly as an arbitrary requirement.
  • I'd wager it'll be utilized for the encryption of Xbox Game Pass for PC downloads for impregnable DRM. It'll also facilitate single machine licensing of digital content. For the vast majority of users TPM provides no appreciable benefit. It's there because corporate environments demand it for security, and business interests demand it for better DRM.
  • @Robbin Chaddock another could be to add an additional layer of security against Zero Day exploits based on Android. As Android has crazy amount of unpatched vulnerabilities as an o/s especially older phones. That's not even getting into the potential probablitity scale (of occurence) of vulnerabilites on Android - all you have to do is search "Android, Vulnerabilities, Zero day exploits", and you'll see what I mean.
  • Haswell and newer Core processors support Intel Trusted Platform Technology that gives you TPM 2.0 without having to have a physical TPM module. These fools are just ripping people off like the GPU market and Bitcoin miners.
  • Really is sad to see.
  • Save money on TPM and pay them for the latest CPU lol.
  • "It's likely your PC doesn't actually need (nor supports) a physical TPM2.0 module." Why on earth would someone be looking for a very hardware specific part if they didn't have the header on their motherboard in the first place? Why would they be looking if they hadn't already checked tpm.msc?
  • This is all well and good, but quite a few people have older computers with older CPUs that don't have built-in TPM capability and are installed on motherboards that have a header for a TPM card, but you can't GET them. Our media server is running a i7-3770 on an Asus motherboard that has a spot for a TPM card (20-1 pin) and you simply can't get the cards. Even if you could, the prices are ridiculous.