Windows 11: need an upgrade or a refresh?

Windows 11: need an upgrade or a refresh?

To benefit from the system, businesses must decide whether to upgrade existing devices or start afresh 

Elly Yates-Roberts |

Since the announcement of Microsoft’s next operating system (OS), Windows 11, a lot of attention has been focused on the new advanced features it offers, as well as how it consolidates functions and improves the user experience.

With any major OS release, attention should also be placed on compatibility and whether businesses should rip and replace their existing IT technologies, or whether they can upgrade their existing devices. Businesses must consider a few key factors when making this decision.

First, they should look at the system requirements needed to upgrade. It is wise to exceed any minimum specifications in order to obtain a smooth and seamless user-experience.

According to the Windows 11 launch statement, users will need a central processing unit (CPU) that is one gigahertz or faster, with two or more cores on a compatible 64-bit processor. In real terms, this means that 8th Generation Intel Core processor and its successors, and AMD Zen+ and later are compatible.

Another important point for businesses to consider is its dynamic random access memory (DRAM) requirements and whether these will also be compatible with their CPU, both today and in the future.

For RAM/DRAM itself, the minimum requirement is to have at least four gigabytes. Industry-wide changes in memory technology are another key consideration. Looking at the recent shift from 8 to 16 gigabit DRAM and its compatibility with the latest Intel CPUs may provide a definitive answer as to whether or not an organisation’s devices are suitable for a Windows 11 upgrade. If they are, then this is a great opportunity to get the most out of systems by upgrading memory, and a cost-effective way of modernising devices with Windows 11.

Trusted Platform Module (TPM) was perhaps an unknown term prior to the Windows 11 announcement, but it is mandatory in order to use Windows 11. TPM itself is a cryptoprocessor that secures a computer on a hardware level, preventing risk of attack by using an integrated cryptographic key. This then works with other systems and applications within a computer. As it is hardware based, it is considered more secure than using software encryption alone.  This means that those with less than TPM 2.0 won’t be able to upgrade to Windows 11, unless they purchase and install a TPM 2.0 Module.

Another consideration for compatibility with Windows 11 is solid-state drives (SSDs). There has been great excitement around DirectStorage, but this is only beneficial for running computer games. As such, the only enterprise-related requirements are to have at least 64 gigabytes. Given that the Windows 11 OS will likely exceed 50 gigabytes itself, it is key for organisations to ensure they have sufficient storage capacity and go above and beyond minimum requirements.

The release of Windows 11 has many potential benefits and appears to offer a more seamless and secure experience for computer users and organisations alike. As outlined above, whether an organisation should make the leap to upgrade to Windows 11 is defined, in part, with how compatible its assets are, and what IT refresh stage it is at.

Considering technology shifts, hardware updates will likely be limited by the ability to upgrade.  It’s important to consider the fact that fewer suppliers will be producing legacy technology when debating an upgrade versus refresh.

But for those that are in the mid-stages of a computer refresh cycle, this provides an opportunity to elongate the life cycle of devices, increasing performance, security and offering a better user experience. Upgrading memory and SSDs allows businesses to do this at a fraction of the cost of acquiring new devices.

Whatever an organisation’s requirements or needs, Kingston Technology has experts on hand to guide it on what is most suitable. Whether it’s SSD, memory or USBs, our Ask an Expert service offers objective advice on how businesses can achieve their goals.

Robert Allen is director of marketing and technical services at Kingston Technology.

Learn more about 16 gigabit DRAM at 

To find out if your device(s) has TPM 2.0, search for ‘Windows Security’ from the start menu, select ‘Device Security’ then ‘Security processor details’ and check that ‘Specification Version’ is 2.0.  If in doubt, please consult the Windows 11 compatibility checker or contact us via our ‘Ask an Expert’ service.

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This article was originally published in the Autumn 2021 issue of Technology Record. To get future issues delivered directly to your inbox, sign up for a free subscription.

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