Will Claney, Tech Talk

Understand your computer before opting for ­Windows 11

Will Claney, Tech TalkAbout a month into the release of Windows 11, we are seeing some issues arise that need addressing before we recommend upgrading. Therefore, we are advocating a pause before taking the leap.

On balance, Windows 11 looks like it will be a great operating system (O/S) – once some of the issues are addressed and bugs fixed. Having said that, we think Windows 11 is a winner on new computers but not quite ready for prime time with regard to an upgrade on an old computer.

There are several issues with older computers, and most do not meet the specifications required. Some issues include the Central Processing Unit (CPU), Trusted Platform Module (TPM), the existing version of Windows and some video problems that still need to be addressed.

The primary consideration is the CPU requirement. You must have an 8th generation, or higher, CPU or the upgrade attempt will fail. You will get a nasty message, and it could brick your computer (lock it up) until the offending process is halted.

Checking your CPU requirement

Here’s how to check the CPU requirement in Windows 10: Left click on the Window icon in the systems tray (lower left of screen). Select the settings icon and left click. On the settings page, left click “system” (top of page), scroll to the bottom of the page and left click “about.”
There you will see something like this: Processor Intel(R) Core(TM) i3-2130 CPU @ 3.40GHz. In this example, this CPU does not qualify.
The code reads that it’s an Intel i3. The dash (-) and numbers after it define the version of the CPU. In our example, the -2xxx means second generation. A -3 is third, -4 fourth, etc. You must have a -8, -9, -10 or -11 to qualify for the upgrade.

Most computers will not be able to upgrade just the CPU. That means, if you have an i3-2xxx like our example, you cannot swap out the CPU to achieve a higher version number.

If you pass the CPU test, check how much RAM (memory, not storage) you have. We recommend 8GB or more. Having 4GB will work, but performance is impacted.

You can upgrade the RAM in most computers. Ask a pro if you need this.

When to upgrade

Good CPU, good RAM, you’re almost good to go. You need to have about 60GB of free space on your hard drive or SSD for the installation process. Be aware that some hardware drivers, like special video cards or specialty devices, may not have the correct driver (the software that runs the cards) available yet. In my opinion, wait 4-6 weeks before upgrading. You should be fine.

To summarize: Windows 11 is going to be a great O/S and is available now in new computers. But wait just a tad before upgrading an older computer, checking the requirements before going ahead.

If your computer misses the upgrade bar, don’t worry. Windows 10 will be supported for a few more years, so you have time to pick out a nice new custom computer from your local computer professional.

Now, go do the right thing. Umm, wait a few weeks.

Will Claney
Will Claney
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William Claney is an independent tech writer and former owner of Computers USA in the Clayton Station. Email questions or comments to willclaney@gmail.com.