Windows 11 could support AMD Zen and Intel Kaby Lake CPUs after all

Microsoft Windows 11 Insider Build on day-one
(Image credit: Microsoft)

It was looking like it was all over for any CPU older than Intel's 8th Gen and AMD's Ryzen 2000-series chips in regards to Windows 11, forever to be locked out of the new OS. Thankfully, though, that might not actually be the case: Microsoft has confirmed it is looking into AMD Ryzen 1000-series and Intel 7th Gen CPU support with the release of the first Windows 11 insider build.

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"As we release to Windows Insiders and partner with our OEMs, we will test to identify devices running on Intel 7th generation and AMD Zen 1 that may meet our principles," the company states in a blog post.

"We’re committed to sharing updates with you on the results of our testing over time, as well as sharing additional technical blogs."

Microsoft's Windows 11 CPU requirements may be subject to change, then, which is bound to be music to some PC owners' ears. Microsoft currently holds that anything below Intel's 8th Gen or AMD's Ryzen 2000-series won't cut it for Windows 11, but it's not yet clear what exactly prevents older CPUs, some of which are still relatively modern, from operating as intended with the new OS. 

For example, Microsoft says Ryzen 2000 CPUs will work with Windows 11 yet Ryzen 1000-series chips won't, despite there being relatively little changed between the Zen and Zen+ architectures at their core.

Intel's chip generations are perhaps even more iterative at the point of no return for Windows 11. Intel's 7th Gen Kaby Lake and 8th Gen Coffee Lake are built on near identical architectures, yet only the later chips will function.

Most modern chips, even, will top the actual minimum specification for Windows 11: a 1GHz or faster processor with two or more cores.

Microsoft holds there's more to it than that, and calls fourth three guiding principles for Windows 11: security, reliability, and compatibility. They don't really clear things up all that much, it must be said, and Windows 11's actual underlying requirements are still as nebulous as ever.

Microsoft also removed a line from its latest blog post that specified that Intel 6th Gen and pre-Zen AMD chips would definitely not work with Windows 11, reports The Verge's Tom Warren. Not sure what that means for older CPU support? Neither are we.

There will be more to report on the Windows 11 compatibility saga before the OS launches later this year, though, that much seems clear. For now, Microsoft has pulled its Health Check PC App, so you'll have to dig into your PC specs to find out if yours is compatible with the OS upgrade.

Jacob Ridley
Senior Hardware Editor

Jacob earned his first byline writing for his own tech blog. From there, he graduated to professionally breaking things as hardware writer at PCGamesN, and would later go on to win command of the kit cupboard as hardware editor. Since then he's joined PC Gamer's top team as senior hardware editor, where he spends his days reporting on the latest developments in the technology and gaming industry. He also enjoys making short videos for TikTok and believes everyone reading this should go follow our account immediately.