Windows Enterprise Desktop

Apr 24 2019   12:09PM GMT

Win10 Minimum Hardware Requirements Get Interesting

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel

Tags:
CPU
Windows 10

Yesterday brought me an interesting item in the TenForums Windows 10 News forum. Tantalizingly, it’s entitled “MS updates CPU requirements page for Windows 10 May 2019 Update.” Thus, this item reflects the latest and greatest set of Win10 CPU requirement in particular, and hardware requirements in general. In fact, a table in the cited MS Docs item there is called the “Windows Client Edition Processor table.” All by itself, it tells an engaging story. When taken in tandem with the Minimum Hardware Requirements for Windows 10 web page, it makes Win10 minimum hardware requirements get interesting. I’ll explain, but first here’s that table lifted verbatim:

Windows Edition

Intel Processors

AMD Processors

Qualcomm Processors

Windows 10 Enterprise LTSB 1507

Up through the following 6th Generation Intel Processors (Intel Core
i3/i5/i7-6xxx, Core m3/m5/m7-6xxx, and Xeon E3-xxxx v5), and through series
equivalent Intel Atom, Celeron and Pentium Processors

Up through the following AMD 6th Generation Processors (A-Series
Ax-8xxx & E-Series Ex-8xxx & FX-870K)

N/A

Windows 10 1511

Up through the following 7th Generation Intel Processors (Intel Core
i3/i5/i7-7xxx, Core m3-7xxx, and Xeon E3-xxxx v6), and Intel Atom, Celeron,
and Pentium Processors

Up through the following AMD 7th Generation Processors (A-Series
Ax-9xxx & E-Series Ex-9xxx & FX-9xxx)

N/A

Windows 10 1607

Up through the following 7th Generation Intel Processors (Intel Core
i3/i5/i7/i9-7xxx, Core m3-7xxx, and Xeon E3-xxxx v6), Intel Atom, Celeron,
and Pentium Processors

Up through the following AMD 7th Generation Processors (A-Series
Ax-9xxx & E-Series Ex-9xxx & FX-9xxx)

N/A

Windows 10 Enterprise LTSB 1607

Up through the following 7th Generation Intel Processors (Intel Core
i3/i5/i7/i9-7xxx, Core m3-7xxx, and Xeon E3-xxxx v6), Intel Atom, Celeron,
and Pentium Processors

Up through the following AMD 7th Generation Processors (A-Series
Ax-9xxx & E-Series Ex-9xxx & FX-9xxx)

N/A

Windows 10 1703

Up through the following 7th Generation Intel Processors (Intel Core
i3/i5/i7/i9-7xxx, Core m3-7xxx, and Xeon E3-xxxx v6) and 8th Generation
Processors (Intel Core i3/i5/i7-8xxxU), Intel Atom (J4xxx/J5xxx and
N4xxx/N5xxx), Celeron, and Pentium Processors

Up through the following AMD 7th Generation Processors (A-Series
Ax-9xxx & E-Series Ex-9xxx & FX-9xxx), AMD Athlon 2xx, and AMD Ryzen
3/5/7 2xxx

N/A

Windows 10 1709

Up through the following 8th Generation Intel Processors (Intel Core
i3/i5/i7/i9-8xxxK/U/H/G, and Intel Xeon E-21xx[1]),
Intel Atom (J4xxx/J5xxx and N4xxx/N5xxx), Celeron and Pentium Processors

Up through the following AMD 7th Generation Processors (A-Series
Ax-9xxx & E-Series Ex-9xxx & FX-9xxx); AMD Athlon 2xx, AMD Ryzen
3/5/7 2xxx, AMD Opteron[2] and AMD EPYC 7xxx[2]Processors

Qualcomm Snapdragon 835

Windows 10 1803

Up through the following 8th Generation Intel Processors (Intel Core
i3/i5/i7/i9-8xxxK/U/H/G, and Intel Xeon E-21xx[1]),
Intel Atom (J4xxx/J5xxx and N4xxx/N5xxx), Celeron and Pentium Processors

Up through the following AMD 7th Generation Processors (A-Series
Ax-9xxx & E-Series Ex-9xxx & FX-9xxx); AMD Athlon 2xx, AMD Ryzen
3/5/7 2xxx, AMD Opteron[2] and AMD EPYC 7xxx[2]Processors

Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 and 850

Windows 1809

Up through the following 9th Generation Intel Processors (Intel Core
i3/i5/i7/i9-9xxxK), and Intel Xeon E-21xx[1], Intel
Atom (J4xxx/J5xxx and N4xxx/N5xxx), Celeron and Pentium Processors

Up through the following AMD 7th Generation Processors (A-Series
Ax-9xxx & E-Series Ex-9xxx & FX-9xxx); AMD Athlon 2xx processors,
AMD Ryzen 3/5/7 2xxx, AMD Opteron[2] and AMD
EPYC 7xxx[2]

Qualcomm Snapdragon 850

Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC 1809

Up through the following 9th Generation Intel Processors (Intel Core
i3/i5/i7/i9-9xxxK), and Intel Xeon E-21xx[1], Intel
Atom (J4xxx/J5xxx and N4xxx/N5xxx), Celeron and Pentium Processors

Up through the following AMD 7th Generation Processors (A-Series
Ax-9xxx & E-Series Ex-9xxx & FX-9xxx); AMD Athlon 2xx processors,
AMD Ryzen 3/5/7 2xxx, AMD Opteron[2] and AMD
EPYC 7xxx[2]

N/A

Windows 10 1903

Up through the following 9th Generation Intel Processors (Intel Core
i3/i5/i7/i9-9xxxK), and Intel Xeon E-21xx[1], Intel
Atom (J4xxx/J5xxx and N4xxx/N5xxx), Celeron and Pentium Processors

Up through the following AMD 7th Generation Processors (A-Series
Ax-9xxx & E-Series Ex-9xxx & FX-9xxx); AMD Athlon 2xx processors,
AMD Ryzen 3/5/7 2xxx, AMD Opteron[2] and AMD
EPYC 7xxx[2]

Qualcomm Snapdragon 850

Table Footnotes
[1] Intel Xeon processors are supported on Windows 10 Pro for Workstations and Windows 10 Enterprise only
[2] AMD Opteron and AMD EPYC processors are supported on Windows 10 Pro for Workstations and Windows 10 Enterprise only

What Makes Win10 Minimum Hardware Requirements Get Interesting?

Consider this: examination of ever-increasing Win10 version numbers shows that taking advantage of advanced features requires more current CPUs. That’s the only way I can read support for 7th generation in 1607 and 1703, 8th in 1709 and 1803, and 9th in 1809 and 1903. From experience, however, I know even 1903 works nicely on Ivy Bridge and Haswell processors. Because Ivy Bridge goes back to Q3 2012 (see this Intel ark page “Products formerly Ivy Bridge“) that gives Windows 10 a long reach. That said, the real difference comes down to performance, especially in support for faster RAM and faster I/O buses (most notably for NVMe via PCI-e).

Does this mean MS is back-handedly encouraging hardware refresh for Win10 users? You bet! Though current underlying minimum hardware requirements remain unchanged, careful reading shows the same impetus. Sure, the CPU minimum still reads “1 GHz or faster CPU/SoC,” and the RAM minimum still says “1 GB for 32-bit OS” and “2 GB for 64-bit OS.” But TPM and UEFI Secure boot are now required (though again, even 1903 runs on systems that don’t support them). The same is true for things such as NFC, Bluetooth, and other increasingly complex peripheral support.

And of course, these minima have very little to do with what people end up buying and using, especially with some degree of comfort or satisfaction. For most PC buyers today, real-world minima include a 64-bit CPU, 4 GB of RAM, at least 256 GB of NVMe SSD storage, and so forth. But here, I see MS pushing at those minima and raising the bar to encourage Win10 system buyers to spend a little more on hardware, and get more in return for buying new systems with better, faster, and more capability.

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  • shelldozer
    Just in case anyone is interested, in the 1809 feature-update, Microsoft silently and with no documentation or announcement of the fact, removed the ability to run on 32-bit-only x86 CPUs, such as Core Duo (Yonah), which had previously been fine.

    You can still run 32-bit Windows 10 1809, but you need a 64-bit CPU to do so! The CPU needs to have the CMPXCHG16B instruction, which is present only on 64-bit CPUs but can still be executed in 32-bit mode on those.
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