How to Upgrade to Windows 11 Whether Your PC Is Supported or Not [Updated]

Enlarge / You name it, we tried installing Windows 11 on it.

Andrew Cunningham

We originally published this installation guide for Windows 11 shortly after the operating system was released in October 2021. To keep it current and as useful as possible, we updated it in August 2022 to cover changes Microsoft made to the Windows installer for version 22H2, and some new workarounds for unsupported systems.

Windows 11 has been out for almost a year and its first major update will be released sometime in the next few weeks. Even if our initial review didn’t convince you to upgrade, you might be thinking about it now that it’s more established and some of the biggest bugs have been fixed.

We’ve put together all kinds of resources to create a comprehensive installation guide for upgrading to Windows 11. This includes tips and step-by-step instructions for enabling officially required features such as your TPM and Secure Boot, as well as official features and unofficial ways to bypass system requirements checks on “unsupported” PCs, because Microsoft is not your parent and therefore cannot tell you what to do.

I’ve had Windows 11 running on PCs as old as a 2008 Dell Inspiron 530, and while I’m not saying it’s something you should do is something you box do.

How to get Windows 11?

The easiest way to get Windows 11 is to check Windows Update on a supported and fully up-to-date Windows 10 PC. But if you don’t see it there, or if you have a lot of computers to upgrade and only want to download the new OS once, there are other options.

Microsoft offers several ways to manually download Windows 11. One 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 within Windows 10 to perform a normal upgrade install. You can also burn the ISO to a DVD, but installing from any USB drive, even an older USB 2.0 drive, will be much faster, so you shouldn’t do that. Finally, you just need to download an ISO file directly from the Microsoft site.

Do I have to pay for this?

Windows 11 is a free upgrade to Windows 10. So if you are using 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 built yourself, officially you need to purchase a Windows 10 or Windows 11 license. These can be purchased from retail sites like Amazon, Newegg, Best Buy or directly from Microsoft for between $120 and $140. unofficially, you can buy a working Windows product key from product key reselling websites for the price ranging from $15 to $40. Many of these sites are sketchy and we won’t link directly to them, but it is an option to get a working key.

Also, unofficially, I’ve had some success using older Windows 7 and Windows 8 product keys to activate equivalent editions of Windows 11. It’s an open secret that the Windows 10 installer would continue to accept these old product keys long after the “official” Windows 10 free upgrade offer expired in 2016, and at least in our tests these keys continued to work for Windows 11.

What does my PC need to be “supported”?

Let’s reiterate the system requirements for Windows 11:

  • A 1 GHz or faster “compatible” dual-core 64-bit processor from Intel, AMD, or Qualcomm
  • 4 GB of 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 over 9 inches

Windows 11 Home requires a Microsoft account and internet connectivity; Windows 11 Pro can still be used with a local account in Windows 11 version 21H1, but in the 22H2 update, the Pro version will also require a Microsoft account login. There are workarounds for this which we will cover later.

The processor requirement is the most restrictive; supported processors include 8th Generation and newer Intel Core processors, and AMD Ryzen 2000 series and newer processors. These are all chips that were released in late 2017 and early 2018. Older computers can’t officially run Windows 11. That’s a big change from Windows 10, which insisted on supporting just about everything which could run Windows 7. Where Windows 8.

We go more into the reasoning behind these requirements (and whether they hold water) in our review. But the main 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. Early 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 CPU is supported but you don’t meet the 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 activate in your PC’s BIOS.

How do I access my PC’s BIOS?

Usually, you can enter your BIOS by pressing a key after turning on your PC but before Windows begins to boot. The key varies, but common ones 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 Restart Now under “Advanced Startup”. In the basic blue screen you see next, click Troubleshoot, then Advanced Options, then UEFI Firmware Settings.

How do I activate my TPM?

Enabling your processor’s onboard TPM firmware is easy, but finding the setting to do so sometimes isn’t. If you’re not sure what you’re doing, try searching for “[manufacturer of your computer or motherboard] enable TPM”, because many manufacturers have created help pages specifically because of 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 usually just call it “fTPM”, although you may also see it called “Platform Security Processor” or “PSP”.

Once you’ve activated your TPM, restart Windows and check Device Manager or use the Health Check app to make sure it’s working properly.

How do I enable Secure Boot?

Any computer manufactured since Windows 8 was released in 2012 must support Secure Boot, which helps prevent unsigned and potentially malicious software from loading during your PC’s boot process. You should be able to enable it in your PC’s BIOS if it’s not already enabled, usually in a “Security” or “Startup” section. Similar to enabling your TPM, if you can’t find the setting, check your PC or motherboard manual.

If your computer won’t boot after enabling Secure Boot, don’t worry, just follow a few more steps. The boot failure is likely because your hard drive or SSD is 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 keyboard shortcut Windows + X, then click Disk Management from the menu that appears. Right-click the drive where Windows is installed (on 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, that’s when you’ll need to convert the drive.

If your drive uses the older style MBR partition, you'll need to convert it to GPT before you can enable Secure Boot.

If your drive uses the older style MBR partition, you’ll need to convert it to GPT before you can enable Secure Boot.

Andrew Cunningham

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 /validate to verify that the drive can be converted. Then type mbr2gpt /convert to convert the player.
  • Once done, 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 reinstall of Windows 10 or 11 with Secure Boot enabled. When you format the drive and install Windows from a bootable USB, it will use GPT instead of MBR.


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