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Official Windows 11 ISOs will not hard block most PCs with CPUs that aren't officially supported

Windows 11 Install
Windows 11 Install (Image credit: Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • PCs with unsupported CPUs will be able to manually upgrade to Windows 11.
  • While not recommended, ISOs and the Media Creation Tool will not block unsupported CPUs.
  • Microsoft says customers should buy a compatible Windows 11 PC for the best experience.

Microsoft spokespeople have today clarified that users who choose to manually upgrade or clean install Windows 11 this fall using ISO media or the Media Creation Tool will not be hard blocked based on the CPU generation requirements (opens in new tab) as laid out by Microsoft's official requirements list.

Officially, Windows 11 is supported on some Intel 7th-generation chips, as well as 8th-generation and up, AMD Ryzen 2000 series and up, and Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 and up processors. This means that if you're using a PC with a CPU that isn't on the list, you will not be eligible for an official Windows 11 upgrade when it begins rolling out this fall. Luckily, that doesn't mean you can't get Windows 11 if you really want it.

Company spokespeople have said that users can manually perform an upgrade using offline media, either via the Media Creation Tool or via official ISOs on PCs with CPUs that aren't on the official list, just like Windows 10 can. The only requirements that will be checked during a manual upgrade or install are whether or not the PC has TPM 1.2 enabled, 64GB minimum storage, 4GB RAM, and a dual-core CPU.

Microsoft does not recommend or encourage users to manually upgrade to Windows 11 via offline media on unsupported PCs, and will continue to refer to the official requirements when asked. Of course, upgrading an unsupported PCs may result in a dysfunctional or broken state, though most modern PCs will likely work just fine, even if officially "unsupported" by Windows 11.

There's also the question around what will happen with Windows Updates going forward if you do manually upgrade to Windows 11 on an unsupported PC. Microsoft's stance on this is that it makes no guarentees that monthly updates will continue to come through on these unsupported PCs, but my hunch tells me monthly security updates will install just fine.

So, if you are running a PC with an AMD Ryzen 1000 series chip, or an unsupported Intel 7th-generation chip or below, you can still install Windows 11 if you really want it when it launches this fall. But for the very best experience, Microsoft recommends you upgrade to a compatible Windows 11 PC.

In the meantime, what are your thoughts on Windows 11's requirements? Are you happy that you will be able to install Windows 11 manually on unsupported PCs? Let us know in the comments.

Zac Bowden
Zac Bowden

Zac Bowden is a Senior Editor at Windows Central. Bringing you exclusive coverage into the world of Windows 10 on PCs, tablets, phones, and more. Also an avid collector of rare Microsoft prototype devices! Keep in touch on Twitter: @zacbowden.

36 Comments
  • So this is what I expected. Only some are officially supported, but way more CPUs will work, I'm expecting something as old as a Core 2 Duo will work just fine.
  • intel core 2 duos are about 15 years old now - first released in mid-2006
  • Doesn't matter.. Those core2duos still work great with windows 10
  • No one asked for a history lesson. There's no good reason, provided the drivers work, that such a system shouldn't be able to run any OS.
  • ArsTechnica gave a great explanation of the hardware requirement: Windows 11 (and also Windows 10!) uses virtualization-based security, or VBS, to isolate parts of system memory from the rest of the system. VBS includes an optional feature called "memory integrity." That’s the more user-friendly name for something called Hypervisor-protected code integrity, or HVCI. HVCI can be enabled on any Windows 10 PC that doesn’t have driver incompatibility issues, but older computers will incur a significant performance penalty because their processors don’t support mode-based execution control, or MBEC. And that acronym seems to be at the root of Windows 11’s CPU support list. If it supports MBEC, generally, it’s in. If it doesn’t, it’s out. MBEC support is only included in relatively new processors, starting with the Kaby Lake and Skylake-X architectures on Intel’s side, and the Zen 2 architecture on AMD’s side—this matches pretty closely, albeit not exactly, with the Windows 11 processor support lists. It’s easiest to think of MBEC as hardware acceleration for the memory integrity feature, sort of like how AES-NI instructions sped up encryption operations a decade or so ago. PCs without processors that support MBEC rely on software emulation called "Restricted User Mode," which does get you the security benefits but affects performance more. Some users who have tested the HVCI feature in Windows 10 on processors without MBEC support have noticed performance reductions of up to 40 percent, though this will depend on the tasks you’re doing and the computer you’re using.
  • Well, that explains a lot. It has been noted there are security functions that are available in newer processors. By the time Win 10 support runs out in 2025, Intel 8th Gen processors will be 8 years old. That's plenty of time between now and then for those PCs to be refreshed. It's somewhat amusing that enthusiasts who want to be on the cutting edge, want to do it on decade old hardware.
  • This is indeed what I hoped for too. Meanwhile I tried to get Ubuntu running on my PC and as always in the last years, I was not impressed (and some of my programms would run only in a virtual machine, as they are Windows only). Even when I upgrade to Windows 11 or install it anew I will retain my old Windows 10 system as a VM and on an external bootable SSD.
  • Been working well on my SP4 (6th gen) 😊
  • But what about tpm? :s
  • In the sense of, they say it right now like that, but... Will it change or not?
  • I'm pretty sure it's just an arbitrary check. Microsoft want to there to only be new systems out there with that level of security at a minimum (for business and government interest), but there's no technical reason it should be needed to run Windows 11. I'm sure that they'll make it hard, if not impossible to get around though.
  • So this means unsupported get further windows 11 updates too? And not be left halfassed behind. I'm running windows 11 on 1 unsupported device that is 2 years old and its working fine.
  • Yes, we expect (but not guaranteed!) you'll be getting monthly patches, etc.
  • Ah ok. I was thinking maybe updates till microsoft says 'no more' for unsupported devices, Something like that. But indeed, lets wait and see.
  • Forget it. Unsupported devices are likely to not get further updates like security ones. https://www.onmsft.com/news/windows-11-iso-installs-no-windows-updates
  • Yeah, once the official ISOs came out I did a clean install on my unsupported laptop (Lenovo T460 from 2016, 6th Gen Intel i5, tpm 1.2). Been working well enough, though a little "chuggy" at times. Could be my integrated graphics are having a hard time with the animations?
  • Allocating more memory to the igpu might help with the random sluggishness with animations. That's presuming you haven't allocated the max amount already.
  • Sure, I'll look into that, thanks!
  • Been working well on my HP dm4 intel core i5 1th Gen.
  • “Unsupported PCs can still join the fun, even if Microsoft doesn't recommend it.” I don’t know anyone who would classify using Windows as “fun”. Installing Windows? Forget it. Most people would find that to be sheer torture.
  • Installing Windows is piece of cake, updating it which is real sheer torture. You never know when Windows Update will fail to install an update, where an in-place upgrade with an ISO is the only solution, or when an update will prevent a machine from booting or delete user files.
  • Vistafan, those breaking upgrade issues, while real, were very rare and only affected a small number of users with unusual nonstandard configurations. That doesn't excuse MS failing to test sufficiently, but it does indicate that typical users shouldn't fear the automatic updates.
  • You are really blowing those update issues out of proportion. These issues are with people having set up really exotic or really old combination of hardware/software tweaks and with a big update from a few years back (when Windows update was also more aggressive in immediately downloading big updates)
  • naddy6969, probably the majority of WINDOWS Central visitors would. That's why we're here. And the UI enhancements with the animations certainly qualify as fun.
  • I don't think my Asus z-97k has ptt tpm 1.2 support 🙁
  • The z97 range have a 20 pin socket for the Asus TPM card. They definitely do a TPM 1.2 card which you can buy on eBay if you can't get one from trade suppliers and apparently there is even a TMP v2.0 version. I spoke with Asus support about them and they said they were only out of stock because of the pandemic and that they were already getting some more manufactured. That was about a month ago but I've not checked to see if they are available again yet.
  • Just don't expect things to work as well on unsupported systems (like updates) since they're not beholden to give a crap on unsupported systems
  • Great news. Also vindication for those of us who predicted this. There was no way Microsoft was going to prevent users with otherwise capable hardware from moving to Windows 11. I do believe it will also be limited to 64 bit systems.
  • Others are reporting that such unsupported systems will not receive ANY updates. Sounds like a disaster to me.
  • I have mixed feelings about the installation on unsupported configurations. I know there are many systems out there (including one I use daily) that are way below the recommended specifications. However, serving them with updates could make the OS fragmentation worse and could lead to more frustration on the user side than it would help.
  • I hope launch fails, and they roll back the requirements. Tried to update manually on an old Lenovo G560, but no tpm or secure boot. I used the iso and blocks upgrade, stating your PC does not meet requirements.
  • Why? Sometime you have to dump the old to get the new. It is not like there is any wrong with win10 and Microsoft will not stop support for win10 in October, they will support it for many years. So when you get a new computer it will reward you with a full win11 experience instead of a possible half-baked not supported experience of to new software on to old hardware.
  • I'm interested in WIndows 11 mainly for the android app support, but I won't install it on unsupported PCs. It's not attractive enough for taking such a risk. I think the whole thing is pretty much about pushing people to buy new devices before they really need. I guess a lot of us will manage both w10 and w11 PCs for a long time, which isn't optimal at all.
  • Specially now that Android apps support won't even be ready at release.
  • If unsupported devices won't get updates then there is no point. I built my gaming desktop in 2017 with a 7th gen Intel cpu. I'm running the W11 beta on it right now and it works excellently. So not supporting the full 7th gen Intel line makes 0 sense because I have TPM 2.0 support activated as well.
  • So the question is will Windows 11 add anything to an old unsupported computer? Will it make it work better, add features or is it only to get that warm fussy feeling of being on the latest? I'm on a old 6th gen intel proc and will put my energy on starting to plan for a newer computer sometime next spring. Locking for the 12 gen or maybe take the jump back to AMD. I will not morn that I can't upgrade and I will survive fore a time on an old windownsinstallation, it is not as win10 have been bad and the support will be guaranteed for many more years.