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Are the Windows 10 minimum hardware requirements enough?

Your upgrade method, workload and more affect whether the minimum hardware requirements for Windows 10 are really enough.

Microsoft lists the Windows 10 minimum hardware requirements as:

  • Processor: 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster processor or SoC
  • RAM: 1 gigabyte (GB) for 32-bit or 2 GB for 64-bit
  • Hard disk space: 16 GB for 32-bit OS 20 GB for 64-bit OS
  • Graphics card: DirectX 9 or later with WDDM 1.0 driver
  • Display: 800x600

In reality, there are a number of factors that affect what hardware you really need. First, it depends whether you're performing a clean installation or are upgrading from a previous Windows operating system. If you are performing an upgrade, then the 16 GB -- or 20 GB for the 64-bit version -- of required hard disk space is inadequate; the existing OS already takes up space.

Another factor that affects the actual system requirements is the workload that you intend to run. Remember, the Windows 10 minimum hardware requirements listed above only guarantee that the Windows operating system will run. Applications typically have their own hardware requirements beyond those of the operating system.

In my experience, Windows 10 runs smoothly with lightweight applications, such as Microsoft Office, with a dual core processor, 2 GB of RAM and a large enough hard disk to avoid concerns of running out of space. The minimum display resolution of 800 x 600 is often inadequate however, because some applications require a higher resolution.

It is also worth noting that additional hardware is required to use some applications and features. For instance, graphically intensive applications might require a DirectX 10-compliant video card. Similarly, the operating system's speech recognition capability can only be used on a PC that is equipped with a microphone. Another example is the Windows Hello feature, which requires special hardware that can be used for biometric authentication.

 

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This was last published in May 2016

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Will you need to buy new hardware to upgrade to Windows 10?
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Given that my existing hardware, which exceeds the minimum requirements, couldn’t handle Windows 10, yes.
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There are minimum requirements set for each OS that you are about to install. As long as your minimum requirements are met, you are fine.
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Enough for the update...? Yes. Enough to get any work done...? Absolutely not. 
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Enough...? Interesting choice of words. Almost any modern halfway decent system can upgrade to Win10. If that's your only goal, that would be good enough. OTOH, doing anything useful with that upgrade (like the work you need to do) is quite  another story. When delays grind down to a dead stall, you'll need a far more realistic assessment.

It's important to understand that MS has no idea how you use your computer (we hope).  Their purpose is to jam yet another upgrade into your system, even if you can't do any work with it.
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My experience is that the minimum requirements are not nearly enough to produce a viable system. Windows 10 bought my Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro, which more than met the minimum requirements, to a near standstill.
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I have two Win 7 Enterprise 64 bit systems that will not Upgrade to any version of Win 10 because they are using using AMD processors. Both Machines exceed the minimum requirements for Win 10 with memory and hardware. Both machines are perfectly happy running Win 7 Enterprise.
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I got my 32GB no-name Win10 tablet just in time for Anniversary Update.  AU said it needed 16GB of free space, and the tablet shipped with about 15.5 free.  Ok, fine, delete a couple of apps, get it to 16 free. That was enough for it to claim it had room to do the upgrade, start the process, and say "Ooops, not enough space." Sure, I also had a 64GB SD card in it, but it doesn't know how to use that space for upgrades.  I had to spend several hours of drag&drop work to get enough things moved to the SD card before it was willing to actually upgrade.  Annoying and flaky.
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After rereading my own comment, and the comments of others, all of them reflect the same issues. Microsoft did not have a clue when they issued the minimum requirements part. I also read that there is a 32 bit version of Win 10. I have not seen that version available anywhere.
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