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Enabling TPM for Windows 11 upgrade on 2018-2021 Windows 10 PCs

Was your computer manufactured between 2018 and 2021 and still running Windows 10 because you have yet to be prompted to upgrade to Windows 11? If so, it could be Windows 11 compatible and needs a feature turned on. Here is how to enable the Trusted Platform Module (TPM) in your computer.

Enabling TPM for Windows 11 Upgrade on 2018-2021 Windows 10 PCs

One of the services we offer is to perform a clean installation of Windows. When doing clean installs, I find that most systems manufactured between 2018 and 2021 do not have the TPM enabled. Once I enable the TPM, I usually will do a clean installation of Windows 11 instead of Windows 10.

So, what is the TPM? The TPM is a microchip that provides hardware-based security functions. It is designed to provide a secure foundation for various security-related functions, such as BitLocker drive encryption, Windows Hello, secure boot, and more. By providing a secure environment for sensitive operations, TPM helps protect the system's integrity and the data's confidentiality.

The first version of the TPM, 1.2, started to appear in computers in 2006 and was a dedicated chip. TPM version 2.0 (the version required by Windows 11) began to appear in computers in 2018 and is a firmware extension of the CPU (Central Processing Unit). Between 2018 and 2021, the TPM function of most computers was turned off by default, as no version of Windows required it.

Then, in 2021, Microsoft released Windows 11 and changed the hardware requirements for Windows. Windows 11 now requires a TPM version 2.0 for Windows 11 to be installed. There were registry hacks and other ways to get around it, but Microsoft quickly patched those flaws.

So, the first thing you need to do is find out the status of the TPM inside Windows 10. By bringing up the TPM Management console, you can see if a TPM is enabled and what version it is. To open the TPM Management console, perform either of the following:

  • Open a RUN dialog box by pressing the Windows logo key Windows logo key + R, type tpm.msc in the Open field, and left-click on OK.
    or
  • Open a search box by pressing the Windows logo key Windows logo key + S, type tpm.msc, and choose tpm.msc Microsoft Common Console Document.

Once the TPM Management console appears, it will tell you if a TPM is enabled and what version it is.
TPM status inside of Windows 10
If it states that a compatible TPM could not be found, you will have to either research the system/motherboard specifications online or boot your computer into the BIOS (Basic Input/Output System) / UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface).

Now, before you research online or boot into the BIOS/UEFI, let's talk about what you will be looking for. The CPU manufacturers (Intel and AMD) have different names for implementing the TPM firmware extensions.

  • The TPM extension inside Intel processors is called Platform Trust Technology (PTT).
  • The TPM extension inside AMD processors is called Firmware TPM (fTPM).

The quickest and easiest way to check for a TPM is to boot your computer into the BIOS/UEFI. This may take several tries, as interrupting the booting cycle for your computer can be challenging. If you don't interrupt the boot process the first time, just let the computer boot to the login screen and restart it.

  1. Restart your computer and access the BIOS/UEFI settings. The method to access these settings varies depending on the manufacturer of your computer. Typically, you can access the BIOS/UEFI settings by pressing a specific key (such as F2, F10, or Del) during the boot process. Most of the time, pressing either the F2 or the Del key rapidly when the splash screen (the manufacturer logo) appears will get you into the BIOS/UEFI settings. Consult your computer's manual or the manufacturer's website for specific instructions.
  2. Once in the BIOS/UEFI settings, navigate to the Security or Advanced tab. Look for an option related to TPM or Security. The wording may vary depending on the manufacturer. Remember to look for PTT in systems with Intel processors and fTPM for systems with AMD processors.
  3. Enable the TPM feature and save the changes before exiting the BIOS/UEFI settings. Your computer will restart.
  4. After enabling TPM in the BIOS/UEFI settings, you can verify that it is enabled in Windows 10 by opening the TPM Management console (as previously outlined). It should now show that TPM is enabled.

Once the TPM is enabled, you can wait for Windows Update to offer the Windows 11 upgrade or manually upgrade Windows 10 to Windows 11. Enabling the Trusted Platform Module on computers manufactured between 2018 and 2021 running Windows 10 is an important step towards being able to upgrade to Windows 11. By following the steps outlined in this article, users can verify the presence and version of a TPM and enable it in the BIOS/UEFI.

Tips for choosing the right CPU cooler for your custom-built computer

Are you looking for ways to keep your computer running smoothly and prevent overheating? The CPU (Central Processing Unit) cooler is a critical component that plays a significant role in keeping your computer cool. Choosing the right cooler that meets your needs and keeps your system from overheating is essential. In this article, we'll explore some tips for selecting the right CPU cooler for your custom-built computer.

Tips for choosing the right CPU cooler for your custom-built computer

Shopping for a CPU cooler can be a daunting task due to the overwhelming number of options available. To choose the right CPU cooler, you will need to take into consideration the type of CPU, available space, noise level, and whether you prefer an air or liquid cooler. Aesthetics may also play a role in your decision. Let's look at some of the things you must consider when choosing the right CPU cooler.

Compatibility and size: The first thing to consider in choosing the right CPU cooler for your custom-built computer is compatibility. Most CPU coolers will fit the majority of motherboards on the market, but if the CPU is relatively new, the coolers that support it may be limited.

The second thing you need to consider is the size of the CPU cooler. With CPU coolers, you must look at the space required for the heatsink (air) or radiator (liquid). For air coolers, is there enough room between the CPU on the motherboard and the side panel on the case? For liquid coolers, is there enough room in the case for a radiator and fan assembly?

Air or liquid: When it comes to CPU cooling, there are two (2) primary options: air or liquid cooling. Air coolers use fans to circulate air over a heatsink, while liquid coolers use a closed-loop system to circulate coolant over the CPU and through the radiator. While both options can provide excellent cooling performance, liquid cooling is typically more efficient and quieter than air cooling.

A manufacturers stock air CPU cooler

Now, some CPUs will come with a standard air cooler included. These work perfectly fine for surfing the web or checking email, but if you plan on putting the CPU under a heavy load, an air cooler with a larger heatsink or liquid cooler might be the best bet.

A performance air CPU cooler

Many years ago, Intel used to have different warranty periods for CPUs that came with and without their cooler (3 years with / 1 year without), so checking the warranty coverage is recommended. Also, remember that liquid cooling can be more expensive and challenging to install, so it's essential to weigh the pros and cons before making a decision.

With liquid cooling, there are two (2) types of systems: All-In-One (AIO) or a custom loop. AIOs are sealed and are not serviceable.
A all-in-one liquid CPU cooler
Custom loops are open and can be serviced.
A custom loop liquid CPU cooler
AIOs are easier to install but can not have any of the parts repaired or coolant replaced. Custom loops can be repaired, and coolant can be replaced, but use hard acrylic lines that must be cut and bent to the specific application.

Noise levels: The noise level is another critical factor to consider when choosing a CPU cooler. Some coolers can be loud, especially if you over-clock your CPU, which can be distracting and annoying when trying to work or play games. If you're looking for a quieter option, consider a liquid cooler or a low-noise air cooler. Be sure to check the specifications and reviews to get an idea of how loud a particular cooler is before making a purchase.

Remember that an air cooler with a large heatsink and multiple fans or a liquid cooler with a large radiator and multiple fans will cool much better than the manufacturer cooler. But with more fans comes more noise, so check the specifications of any cooler you are looking to purchase.

Cooling performance: One of the most important factors to consider when choosing a CPU cooler is the cooling performance. The cooler's ability to dissipate heat from the CPU significantly affects the overall system temperature. A high-performance cooler will keep your CPU running at optimal temperatures, which can improve system stability and prevent damage to your components.

Be sure to look for coolers with a high thermal efficiency rating and a high airflow rate for maximum cooling performance. Remember that with a large surface area, like with a large heatsink or radiator, you will get better cooling performance. And with plenty of airflow, your CPU will keep its cool even when throttled to the max.

Your budget: Finally, it's essential to consider your budget when choosing a CPU cooler. CPU coolers can range in price from as little as $20 to as much as $200 or more. While more expensive coolers may provide better cooling performance, they may not be necessary for your system. Be sure to weigh the features and benefits of each cooler against its price to find the best option for your needs and budget.

In conclusion, choosing the right CPU cooler for your computer is critical to keeping your system running smoothly and preventing overheating. By considering factors such as compatibility and size, air or liquid cooling, noise levels, cooling performance, and budget, you can find the perfect cooler to meet your needs and keep your computer cool. Be sure to do your research, read reviews, and compare options to make an informed decision and keep your computer running at its best.

Tips for choosing the right motherboard for your custom-built computer

Are you planning to build a custom computer? If so, the motherboard is one of the most important components you'll need to consider. It's the backbone of your computer system, connecting all the other components together. In this article, we'll provide tips for selecting the right motherboard for your custom-built computer.

Tips for choosing the right motherboard for your custom-built computer

Choosing the right motherboard can mean the difference between a stable, high-performance system and one prone to crashes and other issues. And depending on what you plan to use it for, the features may and will change.

CPU: The first thing to consider when choosing a motherboard is your CPU (Central Processing Unit). Your motherboard must be compatible with the CPU you plan to use. If you plan to use an Intel CPU, you'll need to choose a motherboard with an LGA socket compatible with your CPU. If you plan to use an AMD CPU, you'll need to choose a motherboard with an AM4 socket compatible with your CPU.

There are times when you might need a BIOS (Basic Input/Output System) update to run a newer CPU. Always check the motherboard manufacturer's website for a list of CPUs that are supported and what version of BIOS it may require.

Now, Intel CPU motherboards do not come with brackets to mount a CPU cooler, but AMD CPU motherboards do. If you decide to go with an AMD CPU, remember that some CPU coolers come with their own backplate, and some use the default AM4 backplate that comes with your AMD motherboard.

If your CPU cooler comes with its own backplate, remember to put the AM4 backplate that comes with your motherboard in a safe location, just in case you need to replace your CPU cooler and the new one requires the original AM4 backplate. Finding a replacement backplate can be time-consuming and a little expensive (around $20 w/ shipping). I have had to order plenty of replacement backplates, as the originals got lost.

Chipset: The chipset is another important factor to consider when choosing a motherboard. The chipset determines what features and capabilities your motherboard will offer. The chipset also affects the performance of your system, as it manages the data flow between the CPU, memory, and peripherals.

Size: Motherboards come in different sizes, ranging from mini-ITX to ATX. The size of the motherboard you choose will determine the size of your computer case. Make sure you choose a motherboard that's compatible with the size of your case.

Tips for choosing the perfect case for your computer

Memory: Memory has always been one of the most vital components next to the CPU. Remember that the memory slots have a maximum amount of memory each can use. You multiply that by the number of memory slots, and you get your maximum usable memory.

You always want to have memory modules that have matching specifications, so it is recommended that you purchase your memory modules in twin or quad packs. That way, you will be assured that all of the memory modules will match.

PCIe Expansion Slots: Expansion slots are another important factor to consider when choosing a motherboard. These slots allow you to add additional components to your system, such as graphics card(s), sound card, or WiFi adapter. Make sure the motherboard you choose has enough PCIe expansion slots (x16, x4, x1) for your needs.

How to add an expansion card to your desktop computer

Storage: The type of storage you use with your motherboard will have a direct impact on the performance. Solid State Drives (SSD) are faster, but Hard Disk Drives (HDD) have larger capacity. There are two type of connections for SSDs (M.2 & SATA) but only one (SATA) for HDDs.

The fastest and most common type of drive is an M.2, with SATA drives coming in second. The typical gaming system has an M.2 drive for the operating system and programs files and an HDD for data storage. Once you decide on what drive(s) (M.2 and/or SATA) and quantity you want to use, you can make sure your motherboard has all of the correct (M.2 / SATA) connections.

I/O Ports: The I/O ports on your motherboard determine what devices you can connect to your system. Make sure the motherboard you choose has enough USB ports, audio ports, and other ports you'll need for your peripherals. It's also important to check if the motherboard has a built-in WiFi or Bluetooth adapter.

Also check the on-board headers for the matching connections for your case. You will want to make sure you have headers for the USB (3.2, 3.1, 2.0) ports, case fans, and lighting features your case may have. It sucks if your case has a USB 3.2 port on the front but your motherboard doesn't have a USB 3.2 header to connect it to.

Power: The majority of ATX-type power supplies have all of the necessary connectors (Modular ATX (24-pin), ATX 12V 8-pin (4x4), Molex, etc.) for almost any motherboard. But to be on the safe side, always check the specifications and connectors for any motherboard you are looking at purchasing.

How to estimate the power required for your custom-built computer

Brand and Warranty: Finally, consider the brand and warranty of the motherboard you choose. Choose a reputable brand that offers good customer support and a solid warranty. This will give you peace of mind knowing that you'll be able to get help if you encounter any issues with your motherboard.

In conclusion, choosing the right motherboard is essential for building a stable, high-performance, custom-built computer. When selecting a motherboard, consider your CPU, chipset, size, memory, PCIe expansion slots, storage, I/O ports, power, and brand reputation. With these tips in mind, you can choose the best motherboard for your custom-built computer, ensuring a smooth and enjoyable computing experience.

How to estimate the power required for your custom-built computer

Whether you are building a new computer or replacing/upgrading your existing one, one of the most important considerations is the Power Supply Unit (PSU). The PSU is responsible for delivering power to all the components in your system, including the motherboard, CPU, graphics card(s), and other peripherals. Choosing the correct PSU is crucial to ensure stable and reliable performance and prevent damage to your components.

How to estimate the power required for your custom-built computer

Two (2) components in your computer will consume most of the power: the motherboard and the graphics card(s). The motherboard uses a relatively small amount of energy but supplies power to the CPU, memory, PCIe slots, and USB ports.

To determine the appropriate wattage for your PSU, you must first consider the power requirements of your components. Here are some guidelines to help you estimate how many watts your PSU should be:

  • CPU: The power consumption of your CPU depends on its model and clock speed. Generally, high-end CPUs require more power than budget models. You can find the power requirements of your CPU on the manufacturer's website.
  • Graphics card(s): If you plan on using a dedicated graphics card(s), these will be one of the most power-hungry components in your system. High-end graphics cards can consume up to 450 watts under load, so check the manufacturer's specifications before choosing a PSU.
  • Motherboard: Your motherboard's power consumption is relatively low compared to other components, but it still requires some power. Make sure to choose a PSU that can provide enough power for all the motherboard components, including the CPU and memory.
  • Storage: Hard drives and SSDs consume very little power, so you don't need to worry about them when choosing a PSU.
  • Other components: If you plan to use other components, such as a sound card, network adapter, or USB devices, make sure to factor in their power requirements when estimating your PSU wattage.

Now, some online power supply calculators can estimate the power requirements given the specifications of the components. You can use these websites to calculate a rough estimate of the amount of power your computer will require. Here are a few online power supply calculators.

Newegg - Power Supply Calculator

PC builds - Power Supply Calculator

Cooler Master - Power Supply Calculator

Once you have a rough estimate of the power requirements for your components, add some extra headroom to ensure stable and reliable performance. A good rule of thumb is to choose a PSU that can provide at least 20% more power than your estimated requirements.

In conclusion, choosing the suitable PSU is crucial to ensure stable and reliable performance for your computer. By estimating the power requirements of your components and adding some extra headroom, you can choose a PSU that meets your needs and provides room for future upgrades.

Windows 11 hardware requirements explained

Updated May 16, 2024

Are you confused about the hardware requirements for Windows 11? Want to know why your computer can or cannot be upgraded to Windows 11? Let's take a detailed look at the hardware requirements for Windows 11.

Windows 11 hardware requirements explained

With Windows 11, Microsoft is focusing on security and is enforcing the hardware requirements to run it. Previous versions of Windows (10, 8.1, and 7) all had the exact general hardware requirement.

However, with Windows 10, the security requirements were still there, but they were not being enforced. The Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI), Secure Boot, and Trusted Platform Module (TPM) (see below) requirements were optional for Windows 10 to install and run.

For example, TPM has always been required to enable BitLocker drive encryption. Windows 10 would use either TPM 1.2 or TPM 2.0. However, the TPM 1.2 standard has been depreciated, so TPM 2.0 is now the de facto standard.

And if you look into UEFI, you will find that Secure Boot is part of that standard. And since UEFI can take advantage of the TPM, it makes sense to include all three (3) in the requirements for Windows 11.

Note: Sorry if anybody still running a 32-bit version of Windows 10, but Windows 11 is only available in a 64-bit version.

Hardware requirements for Windows 7, 8.1 and 10

Processor - 1 Gigahertz (GHz) or faster 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor

Memory - 1 Gigabyte (GB) RAM (32-bit) or 2 GB RAM (64-bit)

Storage - 16 GB (32-bit) or 20 GB (64-bit)

Graphics card - Compatible with DirectX 9 with WDDM 1.0 or higher driver

Hardware requirements for Windows 11

Processor - 1 Gigahertz (GHz) or faster with two or more cores on a compatible 64-bit processor or System on a Chip (SoC). This requirement is now particular about which processors are compatible with Windows 11. General Rule of thumb: If the processor is under six (6) years old, it should run Windows 11. Microsoft has a list of processors that are compatible with Windows 11.

Memory - 4 Gigabytes (GB) RAM. This requirement has increased from 2GB to 4GB, which is no biggie. I have not seen a computer with only 2 GB of memory in over a decade.

Storage - 64 GB or larger storage device. This requirement has also increased, and it is about time. I have seen Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 installed on 32 GB drives, which is not pretty. The biggest problem is there usually is not enough free space to perform a feature update. I recommend at least a 256 GB drive for the operating system and programs.

Graphics card - DirectX 12 graphics device or later with WDDM 2.0 driver. Since DirectX 12 was released with Windows 10 back in 2015, most modern graphic cards will be compatible with Windows 11.

Hardware requirements that are no longer optional

Display - A high definition (720p) display greater than 9" diagonally, 8 bits per color channel. This requirement is pretty easy to meet.

System firmware - UEFI and Secure Boot capable. UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface) has been used for over a decade now, so most computers running have UEFI enabled. And since the Secure Boot specification is part of the UEFI, that should already be in place. However, you may have to change some settings in your computer's BIOS (Basic Input / Output System) to enable UEFI and Secure Boot.

TPM - Trusted Platform Module (TPM) 2.0. Besides the processor requirement, this is another stumbling point for upgrading to Windows 11. A TPM can be a separate module that you connect to your motherboard or be part of the chipset on your motherboard. Most modern motherboards will use FTPM (Firmware Trusted Platform Module) included in the chipset. However, you may have to change some settings in your computer's BIOS (Basic Input / Output System) to enable the TPM.

Note: Computers with TPM 2.0 started hitting the market in 2018. Since the Windows 10 hardware requirements did not require the TPM, most computer system and motherboard manufacturers disabled the TPM by default. It wasn't until Microsoft released Windows 11 in 2021 that manufacturers started to enable the TPM 2.0 by default. So, if your computer was built between 2018 and 2021, there is a good possibility that it can run Windows 11. To enable the TPM 2.0 on one of these systems, you must check the owner manual for your computer/motherboard to see how to enable the TPM 2.0.

Storage structure - There are two (2) types of drive structures: MBR (Master Boot Record) and GPT (GUID Partition Table). Previous versions of Windows would run on either of these structures. Windows 11 requires GTP for the drive that contains Windows 11. Microsoft has included a tool inside Windows 10 to convert drives from MBR to GPT. Here is a link to the documentation for MBR2GPT.EXE.

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