It occurred to me the other day that it’s been three years since the release of Windows 10. That’s right, Windows 10 first came out on July 29, 2015. Now many people don’t realize that it’s been almost three years since the release of Windows 10, as many users waited until the very last minute to take advantage of the free upgrade a full year later.
But time marches on and now that it has been three years, I wanted to revisit the minimum system requirements of Microsoft’s operating system after all this time. Are the Windows 10 minimum specs good enough after all this time? Are the machines that fit these minimum specs even worth it? Those are the questions I want to answer today, especially consdering some of the low specs found in many popular budget laptops in the range of $200 or lower. But first, let’s take a look at what the minimum specs are for Windows 10 as of today.
Current Minimum Specs
Even though it’s been almost three years since the release of Windows 10 (where does time go), Microsoft hasn’t really changed anything in regards to the minimum requirements to run Windows 10. Here are the current specs:
- 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: 800×600
As you can see, the minimum specs really aren’t all that demanding considering it’s 2018. On top of that, they haven’t changed much since Microsoft first released them over three years ago. That doesn’t mean they won’t change in the future, and you have to imagine they will as Microsoft continues to pack in more features and software into the default installation. Of course, we have no idea when they will change.
Are They Good Enough?
I thought for awhile on how to properly break this down for each of you. At first, I thought I would just highlight some of the most common uses and whether or not these specs would stand or not. While I will do something similar to that below, I decided to look at each specific spec and highlight how well Windows 10 will work if that’s your setup.
This first spec is very interesting to me, and I have to admit I haven’t done much testing on this aspect, as it’s been quite some time since I’ve had any processor that’s this slow. So, it’s hard for me to judge how well or how badly it will run. Personally, I can’t imagine it running too well, as 1Ghz is a pretty low clock speed. That being said, Windows 10 does run pretty well on many modern low end processors, so you could get away with it if you have no other choice.
The minimum amount of RAM required is only 1GB for 32 bit and 2GB for 64 bit. That seems pretty small, but thanks to how efficient Windows 10 is, it’s more than enough for Windows 10 to boot. Notice I said boot. I didn’t say use. Now don’t get me wrong, you most certainly can use Windows 10 with only 1GB or 2GB of RAM, but trust me when I say you will hate it. Windows 10 uses quite a bit of memory, and if your system features these minimums, your system will make heavy use of the swap on your hard drive, drastically slowing down your system in the process. Personally, I would recommend doubling those minimum specs to 2GB and 4GB respectively for it to be usable. But, if you really want a great experience, you need at least 8GB these days, in my opinion.
Now onto the hard disk. The system specs say you need 16GB free for the 32 bit installation and 20GB free for the 64 bit installation. That’s pretty much spot on from what I’ve seen. Sure, it can vary based on what you install and activate and your particular system, but in my experience those sizes are about right. That being said, if you are upgrading from Windows 7 or Windows 8, you must ensure that you have at least that much free on top of what is already on your system. On top of that, you probably want even more than that, perhaps as much as double the space, for future upgrades and updates. If you don’t, you could run into a scenario where you can’t upgrade. This is something I have run into myself on one of my laptops with a 128GB SSD installed. Sure, I had a ton of stuff and I was able to make room for it, but the issue still happened because Windows 10 loves it’s hard drive space.
Thankfully, most modern hardware and even much of the older hardware that is in use today will meet this specification. DirectX 9 has been around for quite some time and supports most older video cards and much of the onboard video out there today. However, some applications and other more graphic-oriented Windows features simply won’t work without DirectX 10. Sure, the basics will work, but just be prepared to run into issues if you have something a little fancier, and you can pretty much forget anything having to do with gaming.
As stated, the minimum resolution is 800×600. Now I don’t know many monitors that run these days with that low of a resolution, but I suppose they do still exist. That resolution will work, but everything in Windows 10 will be very large, and some menus won’t display properly. Heck, the settings menu will even be larger than the resolution will allow. But I seriously doubt this will be an issue for anyone, as even the most low end monitors these days often run at 1024×788 or better.
The Bottom Line
So will it work on your setup? It really depends on what you plan on doing with it. In many cases, Windows 10 will work for web use and other more lightweight apps such as Microsoft Office, but the machine will struggle if you try to do anything fancy. Now don’t get me wrong, it won’t be fun, and everything will seem slow. But it will work.
However, you will want to have more RAM and even more hard drive space if you want to do anything with your computer other than basic web browsing. Windows 10 takes up quite a bit of space, and if you want to store anything on your machine, I recommend a decent sized hard drive. Most standard laptops still come with more than enough, but you will find some hybrid designs out there that come with smaller amounts of flash memory, and this can cause issues unless you are a big user of the cloud.
So should you do it? Personally, I wouldn’t run it on anything that isn’t at least almost double the minimum specs. But that’s just me. I have more intense uses than many users, and I like my machines to be as fast as possible. If you have an older computer, I suggest you give it a try. In the end, there’s nothing wrong with a little experimentation. Who knows, you may even learn something along the way.
What’s the oldest system you have installed Windows 10 on and still use? Tell me about your experience, both positive and negative, in the comments below.
About the author
Matt is an IT professional with over fifteen years experience supporting network infrastructure and computers. An avid gamer, Matt enjoys his time playing and writing about his experiences both in the IT world and in the gaming communities. You can find more of his writing for LaptopNinja where he enjoys talking about everything tech.