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Windows 7 System Requirements Finalized

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 66 comments

Your computer should run this.

System requirements for Windows 7 aren’t any great mystery, but now we’re getting a much better idea of what it’ll say on the retail box.

Microsoft posted relatively modest system requirements (at least for any computer belonging to a Tom’s Hardware reader) when it released the Windows 7 public beta in January and only slightly modified them for the release of yesterday’s Release Candidate.

The system requirements for the beta at the time called for:

  • 1 GHz 32-bit or 64-bit processor
  • 1 GB of system memory
  • 16 GB of available disk space
  • Support for DirectX 9 graphics with 128 MB memory (to enable the Aero theme)

The system requirements published yesterday for the official Release Candidate are the following:

  • 1 GHz or faster 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor
  • 1 GB of RAM (32-bit)/2 GB of RAM (64-bit)
  • 16 GB of available disk space (32-bit)/20 GB (64-bit)
  • DirectX 9 graphics device with Windows Display Driver Model 1.0 or higher driver

The only real changes to the system requirements since January are slightly bumped up ones for the 64-bit version, though we suspect anyone who plans to run the x64 build will have a machine that’s way beyond the minimum (having at least 4 GB of RAM would be a good starting point).

While the system requirements posted yesterday apply to the Release Candidate, Microsoft told ZDNet that they were ‘final’, though it’s unknown if there will be different requirements between different SKUs such as Starter Edition or Ultimate Edition. “The system requirements are final and not SKU-specific,” said a Microsoft spokesperson.

Those who plan to run XP Mode will need at least 2 GB RAM, 15 GB of additional hard drive space and a processor that supports hardware virtualization.

According to early tests, Windows 7 performs better than Windows Vista on the same hardware.

"It's been a long time since we've had a version of Windows that will actually run better [than the previous version] on the hardware that most customers have," Mike Nash, corporate vice president of Microsoft's Windows product management group, said during a conference call with reporters, quoted by ComputerWorld.

Windows 7 does carry with it slightly heftier system requirements than Vista does, despite it being a better performer. From one generation to the next – and three years later – Windows 7’s system demands does seem positively modest.

For reference, Windows Vista’s system requirements are:

  • 1 GHz processor (32- or 64-bit)
  • 512 MB of RAM (for Home Basic); 1 GB of RAM for all other versions
  • 15 GB of available disk space
  • Support for DirectX 9 graphics and 32 MB of graphics memory (for Home Basic); 128 MB of graphics memory plus WDDM support for all other versions
Discuss
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  • 3 Hide
    rooket , May 1, 2009 11:44 PM
    hmm 1ghz but do they even have a directx9 video card that is compatable with my pentium 3? ;) 
  • 5 Hide
    lejay , May 2, 2009 12:10 AM
    Yes
  • 5 Hide
    1raflo , May 2, 2009 12:22 AM
    pretty much the vista requirements
  • 2 Hide
    tpi2007 , May 2, 2009 12:27 AM
    rookethmm 1ghz but do they even have a directx9 video card that is compatable with my pentium 3?


    You can buy a cheap Geforce 6200 128MB AGP to go with it. Or something like a 6600GT if you want a bit more firepower. The 6200 AGP will work. I have a PIII at 1Ghz, and it worlks fine.

    Just be sure that your Pentium 3 can boot more than 512MB of RAM. Some boards of the time would not initialize more than 512MB. It probably had to do with the fact that Windows 98 didn't handle more than 512MB properly. And either way, it was a lot at the time.
  • 0 Hide
    LATTEH , May 2, 2009 12:35 AM
    i wonder if the my athlon x2 will work for XP mode?
  • -2 Hide
    mforce2 , May 2, 2009 12:39 AM
    You can still find plenty of new generation Radeon cards for AGP so it shouldn't really be a problem.
    Anyway I don't really see anybody installing 7 on a 1 GHz CPU. Well except maybe for netbooks , those 1.6 GHz Atoms aren't really much more capable than a 1 GHz P 3. Not to mention the quality graphics found on those netbook IGPs , the 945 really is as crappy as you can get.
    If you think about it though these requirements are way too high. Sure the new and even some older PCs don't have a problem with these specs but let's not forget what we're talking about here. 1 GB of RAM , that's like 1 GB = 1024 MB , a 1 GHz CPU , 16 GB of space on the hard drive , and that's just for the OS.
    I remember having my first PC with 16 MB of RAM , a 133 MHz CPU and you know what , it managed to run Windows 95 just fine. I can accept times have changed , that Windows 7 is way more advanced , that it has Aero and so on ... But still , maybe 512 MB , a 500 MHz CPU and 8 GB of storage would have been enough. I do have a Linux PC that runs pretty well on that and it's using the latest KDE GUI , a new kernel , not something from 2000 like Windows XP.
  • 7 Hide
    tman1 , May 2, 2009 1:02 AM
    These system requirements aren't high. If you don't have a system that meets the minimum requirements, don't bother trying to upgrade to the current OS.
    It's like all the people that bought Dells with only 128MB of ram that complained that XP was slow. They should have known better.
  • 2 Hide
    IzzyCraft , May 2, 2009 1:21 AM
    LATTEHi wonder if the my athlon x2 will work for XP mode?

    It's more of xp emulation so it's more of a ram thing to make another desktop etc.
  • 2 Hide
    tpi2007 , May 2, 2009 1:22 AM
    mforce2You can still find plenty of new generation Radeon cards for AGP so it shouldn't really be a problem. Anyway I don't really see anybody installing 7 on a 1 GHz CPU. Well except maybe for netbooks , those 1.6 GHz Atoms aren't really much more capable than a 1 GHz P 3. Not to mention the quality graphics found on those netbook IGPs , the 945 really is as crappy as you can get. If you think about it though these requirements are way too high. Sure the new and even some older PCs don't have a problem with these specs but let's not forget what we're talking about here. 1 GB of RAM , that's like 1 GB = 1024 MB , a 1 GHz CPU , 16 GB of space on the hard drive , and that's just for the OS. I remember having my first PC with 16 MB of RAM , a 133 MHz CPU and you know what , it managed to run Windows 95 just fine. I can accept times have changed , that Windows 7 is way more advanced , that it has Aero and so on ... But still , maybe 512 MB , a 500 MHz CPU and 8 GB of storage would have been enough. I do have a Linux PC that runs pretty well on that and it's using the latest KDE GUI , a new kernel , not something from 2000 like Windows XP.


    Well, actually the Atom does have some advantage. Unless you're talking about the P3 Tualatin, that has 512KB L2 Cache, which was rare on desktops, though you can find them in laptops, the all other P3's, including the normal Tualatins only had 256KB L2. And then you have to consider that the Atom has support for SSE2, and SSE3 which is a plus. And then there is the platform. The Atom has a 533 FSB compared to a 133 for the latest P3's. And P3's generally had PC133 RAM, compared to 533Mhz DDR2 or even 667Mhz for the netbook platform. So I'd say the Atoms are generally better suited.

    I'd keep a P3 for a Windows XP or a Linux based Media Center. I have a P3 at 1Ghz with a 26W TDP, which is still pretty good by today's standards (those were efficient processors.. then came the P4... and fortunately then Intel went back to the gold old architecture :D )
  • 2 Hide
    apache_lives , May 2, 2009 1:37 AM
    tpi2007Well, actually the Atom does have some advantage. Unless you're talking about the P3 Tualatin, that has 512KB L2 Cache, which was rare on desktops, though you can find them in laptops, the all other P3's, including the normal Tualatins only had 256KB L2. And then you have to consider that the Atom has support for SSE2, and SSE3 which is a plus. And then there is the platform. The Atom has a 533 FSB compared to a 133 for the latest P3's. And P3's generally had PC133 RAM, compared to 533Mhz DDR2 or even 667Mhz for the netbook platform. So I'd say the Atoms are generally better suited. I'd keep a P3 for a Windows XP or a Linux based Media Center. I have a P3 at 1Ghz with a 26W TDP, which is still pretty good by today's standards (those were efficient processors.. then came the P4... and fortunately then Intel went back to the gold old architecture )


    Tualatin Celeron's had the 100mhz fsb and 256k cache, the later P3 Tualatins had the 512k and FSB133 etc and that good old low TDP :D  the major benifit was the fact that that 815 series chipset was so efficent even Intel didnt bother putting on a heatsink on there motherboards

    Down side those boards are showing there age and unreliability - working on several of mine that *were* working till i checked them today - looks like a rather large project to test all the crap i have and find some working parts (fingers crossed my ASUS TUSL2-C WORKS STILL, AND MY ABIT BH6).
  • 3 Hide
    MU_Engineer , May 2, 2009 2:14 AM
    tpi2007Well, actually the Atom does have some advantage. Unless you're talking about the P3 Tualatin, that has 512KB L2 Cache, which was rare on desktops, though you can find them in laptops, the all other P3's, including the normal Tualatins only had 256KB L2. And then you have to consider that the Atom has support for SSE2, and SSE3 which is a plus. And then there is the platform. The Atom has a 533 FSB compared to a 133 for the latest P3's. And P3's generally had PC133 RAM, compared to 533Mhz DDR2 or even 667Mhz for the netbook platform. So I'd say the Atoms are generally better suited. I'd keep a P3 for a Windows XP or a Linux based Media Center. I have a P3 at 1Ghz with a 26W TDP, which is still pretty good by today's standards (those were efficient processors.. then came the P4... and fortunately then Intel went back to the gold old architecture )


    The PIIIs are still very usable. I recently pulled a Shuttle MV25N motherboard with a PIII Coppermine 1.0B (also the 26 W version) and 256 MB PC100 off a surplus pile, stuck a NIC, SATA card, and a few HDDs in it and turned it into a file/print server. There is more than enough CPU and RAM for the task as I'm running the latest version of Debian in text mode, which takes a whopping 38 MB (no typo) of RAM. Sure, the PCI bus is horribly bottlenecked when I hammer at the disks, but it does pretty well for a unit from 2001.
  • 0 Hide
    randomizer , May 2, 2009 2:37 AM
    Atom rocks, my netbook can play Portal! :D 
  • 1 Hide
    apache_lives , May 2, 2009 4:45 AM
    Haha seems everyone remembers good old P6 tech :D :D :D 

    If you think about it, when it first appeared it was a ~30-40w Pentium Pro with a max of 200mhz - years later and alot of changes - ~12x the clock speed, ~12x the FSB, ~24x the cache, twice the cores (or more) and we still have the same thermal limits (mobile core 2 "T" series etc) - best architecture ever me thinks.

    On the other hand in the K7 days i heard that some underclocked Athlon XP's were doing well in passively cooled file servers.

    What happened to motherboard makers making a desktop motherboard for laptop chips - they were the true power savers.
  • -1 Hide
    michaelahess , May 2, 2009 4:53 AM
    Someone really needs to dig into the space issue. I've got a 4GB SSD in my netbook. Run's Ubuntu 9.04 Netbook edition. I can do EVERY SINGLE THING on it that I can do on my quadcore desktop except gaming. All photo/video/music storage on an SD card of course. Open Office, Kino, Gimp, everything! All this with just over 1/2GB to spare. Why the HELL does vista and 7 take over 10GB of HD space??????
  • -1 Hide
    dafin0 , May 2, 2009 5:30 AM
    michaelahess
    windows 7 comes with allot of stuff pre-built into it that Ubuntu doesnt, most of it you will never see or use but its still there.. hell the help file for windows 7 must be a few hundred MB with everything it covers.

    there are programs out there that u can use to strip down the install size so have a look around
  • 0 Hide
    randomizer , May 2, 2009 5:37 AM
    1GB of Windows Vista and Windows 7 is the Natural Language Search. By default it isn't even enabled :lol: 
  • 0 Hide
    SpadeM , May 2, 2009 6:01 AM
    michaelahessSomeone really needs to dig into the space issue. I've got a 4GB SSD in my netbook. Run's Ubuntu 9.04 Netbook edition. I can do EVERY SINGLE THING on it that I can do on my quadcore desktop except gaming. All photo/video/music storage on an SD card of course. Open Office, Kino, Gimp, everything! All this with just over 1/2GB to spare. Why the HELL does vista and 7 take over 10GB of HD space??????


    15GB or 20GB ... i know that 1TB HDD are cheap now and storage isn't supposed to be a problem, but as michaelahess said, on laptop, netbooks and even older desktops that might be a problem. I'm all for the "faster OS" label on win 7 but is that tone of software needed for the increase in system responsiveness?. Hope i can nLite it somehow and strip down all the unnecessary elements from it since it doesn't give me that options on installment.
  • 2 Hide
    ahmshaegar , May 2, 2009 6:50 AM
    Should we be thanking the otherwise useless netbook for lower system requirements?
  • -2 Hide
    eddieroolz , May 2, 2009 8:24 AM
    Funny, my Beta doesn't even seem to take up 20GB, and its 64bit too.
  • 1 Hide
    JimmiG , May 2, 2009 10:19 AM
    I use my netbook at least 10 hours a week. Pretty good for something that's "useless". I'll stick with XP on it though - even if you can strip down the installation size of Win7, it will use much more than my nLited version of XP. Unless applications like Firefox, OpenOffice etc. suddenly start requiring Vista or Win7, XP does everything I need on it.

    My Quad-core Phenom rig is Win7 ready - on the other hand Vista already works beautifully on it. Is the new taskbar really worth the cost of an upgrade? :p 
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