Microsoft Updates RAM Requirements for Windows 10

Recently, a hardware requirement section (including RAM) showed up on Microsoft’s MSDN Hardware Components guidelines page for Windows 10 for PC and Mobile.

Since the release of Windows Vista in late 2006, the minimum requirements for Windows desktop versions have stood still. Windows 10 launched in 2015 could technically run on a system using specifications as far back as the introduction of the Pentium 3, with exceptions. Over the past decade, Windows has added more requirements to its CPU instructions relating to security. Windows 8 included additional requirements such as NX, Prefetch, LAHF/SAHF, SSE2, and CompareExchange128. This has affected Windows 10 compatibility with processors released as far back as 2009.

Microsoft Increases RAM Requirements for Windows 10

One hardware element that has remained the same is RAM, until now. Recently, a hardware requirement section showed up on Microsoft’s MSDN Hardware Components guidelines page. Most of the information specifically targets OEM’s building future hardware for Windows 10. Previously, the minimum amount of memory required to run Windows 10 was 1 GB. You can still do this, but the experience is undesirable for mainstream usage, even for 32-bit versions.

RAM Win10 Anni

Surprisingly, Microsoft’s Windows Server 2016 has a minimum requirement of 512 MBs of RAM. Unlike desktop versions, Windows Server can be modified for specific roles in an organization that does not demand the resources of a desktop operating system, such as File and Print Server. Windows 10 expanded the RAM limits in desktop versions, increasing from 512 GBs to a whopping 2 TBs on premium business editions such as Pro and Enterprise.

With the upcoming launch this summer of the next major revision of Windows 10, dubbed the Anniversary Update, Microsoft requires hardware partners enable defaults such as TPM 2.0. The Trusted Platform Module is a security chip, which provides defenses against malicious software. The chip normally is built into business class desktops and notebooks.

What Does This Mean for Your Computer?

Existing systems running Windows 10 or previous versions of Windows will not be affected by this decision. Users who purchase new devices later this year, will not be affected by the new changes either. Most budget PCs and laptops these days usually come with a minimum of 6 to 8 GBs of RAM.

It’s worth noting that there are other changes for Windows 10 Mobile, too. Those changes mainly deal with screen size requirements. You can see the full list of changes for Windows PC and Mobile on this MSDN page.



  1. James

    May 23, 2016 at 7:54 am

    Thanks for the alert .

    However, are you sure about the statement
    “Most budget PCs and laptops these days usually come with a minimum of 6 to 8 GBs of RAM.”

    During my costing for replacements, I see 2 or 4 and then going to 8 and occasionally 16, rarely 6

    Considering the newly published requirements,
    In my (limited) experience:
    For those upgrading much older systems 512MP was OK for XP – really wanted 1GB – No way ! – not even a reasonably maintainable 32 bit Win-7.

    Older systems as in Win-7 or 8, 1GB for a running system, but the real pain seems to be Microsoft/Windows update that, in a 1GB system creates very unhappy users.

    The way that the ‘fix’ process runs in Win-10 seems to be somewhat happier in 1GB, but still really needs 2GB rather than 1GB.

    And – the 64 bit version seems to really want the 2GB minimum for the updates, but seems to run apps in 2GB reasonably effectively.

    So – to me, it seems that the major problem with minimal memory systems is the evolving MICROSOFT’s system maintenance processes.

    The bit about camera faults is ‘amusing’? – as in the max number of faulty pixels allowed –
    Wot windows will fail if your camera loses functionality of 1 (more) pixel ?

    But – mostly, thanks again for the alert about the changes .

    • Andre Da Costa

      May 23, 2016 at 3:54 pm

      If you are still seeing 2 GBs and 4 GBs, those are most likely old Windows 8/7 era systems from warehouse inventory that are just being sold. Also, I will admit, some Tablets using processors such as the Intel Atom might still be limited 2 GBs of RAM. I was referring to budget mainstream laptops and PCs. Here in Jamaica, I see cheap PC’s with that amount of installed RAM.

      You are welcome.

  2. Jerome A. Grossman

    May 23, 2016 at 8:14 am

    Shouldn’t that be “512 MB” and “2 GB”, instead of “GB” and “TB”?

    “Windows 10 expanded the RAM limits in desktop versions, increasing from 512 GBs to a whopping 2 TBs on premium business editions such as Pro and Enterprise.”

    • Steve Krause

      May 23, 2016 at 3:22 pm

      Hi Jerome — As the article mentions, Microsoft is INCREASING the supported Maximum amount of Memory from 512 GB to 2 TB. Now that’s a lot of memory! :)

    • Andre Da Costa

      May 23, 2016 at 3:50 pm

      The memory limits for Windows 7 was 192 GBs, Windows 7 Home Premium and Windows 10 Home are limited to 16 GBs and 128 GBs specifically.

      I am referring to the 64 bit versions of course.

      Can’t even fathom 64 GB much more 2 TBs. Still on 2 GBs here.

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