Why Your Perfectly Fine PC Can’t Run Windows 11, And How To Fix That

Why Your Perfectly Fine PC Can’t Run Windows 11, And How To Fix That
One of the new default backgrounds with Windows 11. Image: Microsoft

It’s finally announced, and it’s actually called Windows 11. But even though your PC is more than capable of playing today’s games at perfectly acceptable frame rates and resolutions, you might get a warning saying it’s not compatible with Windows 11. What the hell?

The answer isn’t because of RAM, storage, your CPU or any of the other basic internals that come with a PC. The biggest culprit is something called Trusted Platform Module, or TPM, which is something many gamers probably aren’t aware of.

What is Trusted Platform Module (TPM)?

tpm
A shot of a TPM setting inside an older ASUS motherboard BIOS.

TPM, or Trusted Platform Module, is basically a secure cryptoprocessing chip on your PC or laptop motherboard. For the most part, TPM chips kick in when you computer starts up, ensuring that your PC boots with a trusted combo of hardware and software until Windows is fully loaded. That’s not all TPM is useful for, though. It’s been used before as an anti-cheat mechanism, Windows Domain logins, BitLocker disk encryption, or in some implementations of DRM.

Unless you’re running something from the Windows 98/2000 era, chances are your PC already supports some form of TPM. Most motherboards from the last half decade or so all support TPM, and everything from the decade before that supports TPM 1.2. (Importantly, while the Windows 11 specs say you’ll need TPM 2.0 for the OS to run, Microsoft’s own technical notes say future Windows 11 builds will support TPM 1.2, according to AMD’s technical marketing director.)

How to check if your PC supports TPM, or whether it’s turned on

windows 11
Image: Microsoft

The official Windows 11 landing page has a PC Health Check app you can download. This is the fastest way to get a bright blue tick from Microsoft: if it confirms your support, then you’re good to go.

However, what do you do if it doesn’t?

Well, here’s another step you can try first.

  • Press Windows + R on your keyboard, which will bring up the Run dialog box in the bottom left
  • Type in “tpm.msc”
  • This will launch a new program, Trusted Platform Module (TPM) Management
  • Look for the “Status” box — it’ll be the second one in the middle of the window — and it should say “The TPM is ready for use” or “Compatible TPM cannot be found

Now, if you get the latter error, it doesn’t mean you don’t have a TPM chip on your motherboard. So hold off on getting the wallet out — because you might still have one, but it just might not be enabled.

Enabling TPM in your PC’s BIOS

This can be a little tricky because everyone has a different motherboard, and all motherboard manufacturers lay out their BIOS menus differently. So while I can’t give specific advice for your particular system, the principles are pretty simple.

Firstly, you’ll want to fire up your PC’s BIOS menu. Restart or turn on your PC, and then hit the DELETE/F2/F10/F11 key to launch before booting into Windows. Every motherboard usually has a couple of preferred shortcut keys here — F2 and DELETE are the ones my ASUS motherboard uses, but you’ll get a prompt on screen when your computer is starting up as to which buttons you need to hit.

What you want to look for is a setting within the BIOS that enables TPM. It’s best to refer to your motherboard manual here; you can download these from the internet, if you don’t have the actual manual lying around.

Because I’m on an ASUS AMD motherboard, I had to go into the Advanced -> AMD fTPM configuration, where I could then change from Discrete TPM to Firmware TPM. This brings up a dialog box saying that “AMD fTPM is a hardware TPM 2.o implementation integrated in AMD AGESA code” and that “when the recovery key is lost or when the BIOS ROM chip is replaced, the system will not boot into the operating system”.

If you’re on an MSI motherboard, for instance, the option is under Settings -> Security -> Trusted Computing:

windows 11
Image: Reddit

Wherever the setting is, once it’s flipped, save the changes and exit the BIOS, restarting your system. The Windows 11 health checker should have no qualms now.

For those using Intel based systems, you will want to look for an option called Platform Trust Technology (PTT) or Trusted Execution Technology (TXT). This is basically Intel’s equivalent of AMD’s firmware TPM switch above, and it’s activated in much the same way:

  • Depending on your motherboard and BIOS, the Intel PTT option may have to be set to “Enabled”, or flipped from “Discrete” to “Intel PTT” 
  • Save the changes and exit your BIOS.

The option might also be described as “TPM Administrative Control” on some motherboards — again, refer to your specific manual to know how it’ll be described.

Once the setting’s flipped, saved and your PC restarted, you should be able to see via the TPM program and/or the Windows 11 Health Checker that you’re good to go.

windows 11
Success!

At some stage or another, you’ll want to run through these steps. Microsoft announced that DirectStorage — the next-generation advancements for hard drives that’s currently supercharging loading times on the PS5 and Xbox Series X — will be exclusive to Windows 11. So that’ll be a major step forward for PC gaming. Current APIs on PC weren’t built to fully accommodate the speeds newer SSDs and NVMe drives offer, as a lengthy blog post outlining DirectStorage notes.

Of course, there’s plenty of justification for not upgrading your system just yet. Windows 10 will continue to get security updates well into the future, and we’ve all seen how major Windows updates have gone in the past. Still, Windows 11 will be a free upgrade for everyone on Windows 10 anyway. So when you’re ready to make the jump, make sure you double check whether TPM’s enabled first.

But what if I don’t have a TPM setting at all?

Well, this is where it gets tricky.

There are already reports of some users who have discovered this morning that there’s no TPM setting within their BIOS at all. And it’s not because their motherboard doesn’t support TPM — it’s because a fair few consumer-grade motherboards just didn’t ship with a TPM module at all. So while most users will have an option available in the BIOS to fix their woes, some will need to look at grabbing tiny little chips like this:

These chips will plug into an empty header on your motherboard, which, again, your manual will outline where. Thankfully, most people won’t have to resort to installing individual chips on their motherboard. As AMD pointed out above, the vast majority of motherboards and PCs in operation today support TPM 1.2, which Windows 11 builds will support going forward.

But what if Windows 11 still says my PC isn’t compatible?

The most common reason why your PC might not be compatible is the CPU. The official requirements say first-gen AMD Ryzen CPUs, and any Intel CPUs 7th gen and earlier, aren’t officially supported. Microsoft also says your machine needs to be “Secure Boot compatible”. My machine didn’t have Secure Boot enabled in the BIOS — it was set to “Other OS” — but the official Microsoft Health Checker app didn’t seem to have any problems with that. (If you do, try enabling Secure Boot.)

Other reasons that the Windows health checker might fail your system include a lack of storage space or your internet connection being down at the time of checking. You’ll need both these things to install Windows 11, either as an Insider build from next week or whenever Windows 11 starts rolling out globally. (It’s also a smart idea to make a backup Windows 10 USB stick if you haven’t got one already.)

Comments

  • Great article. Was going to look into this today!

    My Razer laptop is eligible thankfully (even if the fan does grind like crazy due to a manufacturing fault that they refuse to fix). Swings and roundabouts.

    Will check my desktop when I get it out of storage when I move … fingers crossed.

    • Yep, most places have run out because scalpers got in quick, i read somewhere that a $30 chip last week is now being sold for $500 plus.

  • so odd to see a TPM requirement on desktop but I’ve only ever known it being used for bitlocker purposes

    now I’m curious if current motherboards actually lists that they have TPM

  • awesome, thanks for the info. turns out my mobo has a TPM header but nothing plugged into it. thanks windows for adding DRM requirements to your OS that never needed it before.

  • Typically there isn’t a point upgrading Windows until theres at least one Service pack out. I’m really not surprised that things like this weren’t picked up in internal QA if they’re all using machines with it already.

    • Why would the lack of a required feature be picked up in internal QA? Internal QA picks up bugs and other issues, not missing requirements.
      As for waiting until there’s at least one SP out, Windows 11 is basically a major service pack for Windows 10. I would compare it to SP1 for Windows 8.

    • my impression is that the TPM requirement is a design choice as part of making windows even more secure

      without actually installing the leaked build, time will tell if this requirement is just paper thin or actually built into the install.wim

      • It’s not to make it secure, it’s to force you to use their shitty signed software, something the Linux people have been saying would happen for years. TPM is an extremely bad thing as is requiring signing.

  • Great, that msi got picked up by Avast as a potential threat. Bypassing that, it runs but tells me my PC doesn’t meet the system requirements, even though ALL individual specs are fully met. Is this the new Microshaft Horseshit middleware lol?

  • This is a obvious MS control grab, got a 7th gen I7 Chip and the thing works perfectly fine. Been checking on the MB and it has the setting as discribed but of course playing with this does nothing. This is MS way of forcing everyone to buy new PC’s to farm money. Given the current state of accessability (lack of hardware, completely over priced hardware), good luck getting something decent. (given that MS is from US and most hardware is from China, it’s really no wonder everything is hard to get hold of at a reasonable price/reliability here in AU.)

  • “And How To Fix That”

    Install Linux, sure you’ll suffer some but at least MS won’t be diddling you!

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