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Do you really need to buy TPM for Windows 11?

Windows 11 made big waves in the tech community yesterday. Announced at the What's Next for Windows event, Microsoft showcased a number of new features coming in the next iteration of its venerable operating system, along with its enhanced system requirements.

While Windows 11 can still run on modest hardware — asking for just 4GB of memory and 64GB of storage — one detail emerged: the need for a Trusted Platform Module, or TPM.

In its effort to make the system more secure, Windows 11's TPM requirement alerted people. In essence, a TPM establishes a root of trust and stores the encryption keys used for Microsoft's Bitlocker. Although it comes with most premium consumer laptops, it is most prevalent in enterprise devices that put security at the fore.

Alongside the announcement, Microsoft also provided a compatibility checker for Windows 11, which many people started immediately. Some users and enthusiasts were surprised by the rejection of the tool, despite its powerful hardware. Worse, the compatibility tester doesn't reveal which requirement the device failed to meet, leaving many scratching their heads.

Naturally, people are concerned about the lifespan of their newly purchased equipment. For those who want to give a thorough try when it comes to Windows 11, it might be best to prepare your system with the following options.

Option 1: Enable AMD fTPM or Intel PTT in the motherboard's BIOS
The latest processors and motherboards support some sort of firmware TPM. Unlike a dedicated TPM that runs on a discrete chip, firmware-based TPM runs in the system's main processor.

The setting is called fTPM in AMD motherboards and Platform Trust Technology (PTT) in Intel-based motherboards. They are often found under the "Advanced" section in the BIOS/UEFI of the motherboard. Many of today's UEFIs also have search features that return the relevant setting for the setting name.

This solution seems to be giving mixed results. While some users have reported passing compatibility checks after enabling the setting, others have not. The only way to confirm is to try it.

Option 2: Buy an add-in TPM card
Motherboards without firmware TPM support may still have a header for an add-in TPM card. In an email to IT World Canada, Microsoft confirmed that Windows 11 will continue to support the add-in TPM, just like previous versions of Windows.

TPM add-in cards are available through major motherboard manufacturers such as Gigabyte, MSI, Asus and others. To see if it has a TPM header, refer to the motherboard's floorplan in its manual. They are generally inexpensive, but they have recently caught the attention of scalpers for being able to replace them very quickly.

Option 3: Open Wallet
There's a good chance the above options will solve the problem, but for the small subset of users with systems that don't support either, then forking over the cash for a new processor (2018 or later, Windows 11 processor compatibility list) ) ), motherboard, or laptop would be the last available resort.

However, there is no urgency. Microsoft will continue to support Windows 10 until 2025, giving users plenty of time to save up for a new device.

Windows 11 will arrive this holiday season. Insider previews begin next week.

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