TPM chip: Windows 11 requirement explained, how to check if your PC has TPM 2.0 - and how to enable module

TPM stands for ‘Trusted Platform Module’, and is a hardware-level solution for security in computing

The new Windows 11 start screen, a simpler design helping bring users ‘closer to the things they love’ (Image: Microsoft)

Microsoft’s new-look Windows operating system with several new features, enhancements and visual changes has launched.

Windows 11 is available now as a free upgrade for eligible Windows 10 PCs.

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The Start menu, a staple of Windows, is the first difference many users will notice; the Start button and menu have been moved to the centre, away from its traditional left position.

It forms part of a wider visual overhaul, which includes new-style icons and translucent, rounded windows.

But while excitement is high among PC users for the new operating system, a few - particularly those on older machines - have found they’ve been unable to upgrade to the latest version due to one mysterious initialism: TPM.

So what is a TPM? And how do you check if your PC or laptop is compatible?

Here is everything you need to know.

What is a TPM?

TPM stands for ‘Trusted Platform Module’, and is a hardware-level solution for security in computing.

Most commonly, security for a computer is handled through software - think anti-virus programs and firewalls.

But since software can be altered by those with the requisite skills, even the most secure of applications are technically prone to hackers.

Inserting security at the hardware level - in this case by burning unique and secret Endorsement Keys (EK) into microchips as they are produced - means exploiting such measures becomes much more difficult.

TPM chips communicate with other security systems within a PC, such as fingerprint readers or facial recognition systems, which have to confer with the TPM to allow access.

“PCs of the future need this modern hardware root-of-trust to help protect from both common and sophisticated attacks like ransomware and more sophisticated attacks from nation-states,” said David Weston, director of enterprise and OS security at Microsoft in a blog post.

“Requiring the TPM 2.0 elevates the standard for hardware security by requiring that built-in root-of-trust.”

If your machine is older than around 2014, it is unlikely it comes with TPM technology.

How do I check my computer has TPM?

There are a few ways to check if your machine has a TPM.

The most simple method is to go to the Start menu, search for Windows Security, and click on Device Security on the left-hand column.

Another window will then appear that shows if your device has a TPM installed; it should say “Security processor”, with a green tick next to the icon.

No Security processor icon = no TPM.

Another way to check if there’s a TPM installed is to type ‘Run’ into the Start search bar, then type ‘tpm.msc’ and hit Enter.

That will bring up the Trusted Platform Module (TPM) Management on Local Computer window. If it says "Compatible TPM cannot be found", then your computer doesn't have a TPM.

Finally, you can download the PC Health Check app from Microsoft, which will tell you if your computer is ready for Windows 11.

Can I add TPM?

If your computer doesn’t have TPM, it is fairly easy to add it to your machine.

You’ll need to buy a compatible module for your motherboard by searching for your motherboard model and seeing if the manufacturer has released a compatible TPM.

If they have, installation is fairly simple, and all you’ll need to do is find the TPM pins on your motherboard and slot the module in.

Once you’ve installed the module physically, you’ll need to enter your computer’s BIOS menu to activate the TPM.

This can all sound rather daunting for those not used to tinkering with their machines, but there are plenty of instructional YouTube videos out there talking you through this relatively simple process.

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