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.
Windows 10 minimum hardware requirements for 2019
During the May 2019 update, Microsoft changed the Windows 10 minimum hardware requirements. Desktops that recieve a clean install of Windows 10 must have a hard drive size of 32 GB. IT admins, however, do not necessarily need to increase the hard drive size of desktops that implement the May 2019 update from a previous OS version if there is enough available free space. During the update, Windows will prompt admins to free up space on the hard drive to successfully complete the process.
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