I recently installed Windows 8 / Windows 10 on a couple of machines to play with, and it installed smoothly on all but one machine. On an older Dell computer, I get the following error during installation:
Your computer’s CPU is not compatible with Windows 8
I was pretty sure that Windows 8 could be installed on the computer after looking for Windows 8 system requirements, so I was surprised to see this message. You may also receive this message when installing Windows 10. If you follow the links below, you will see the base RAM and processor requirements for Windows 8 and 10:
Unfortunately, they don’t provide much detail about the requirements, so I couldn’t figure out why I was getting this error on my Dell So here’s what my problem was and what you need to do to fix it so you can install Windows 8 and Windows 10 without any problems.
So, to install Windows 8 or Windows 10, the CPU on your computer must support the following features:
– PAE or Physical Address Extension – NX (no eXecute bit) – SSE2
Most modern processors now support these features by default, and that’s not a problem. If you get this error, chances are NX is not enabled in your BIOS. To find out how to determine if your system supports NX and SSE2, see this white paper from Microsoft:
It also has a few steps to show you how to enable NX, if your system supports it. Basically, however, you need to go into BIOS and browse some of the additional pages until you find something related to the following:
- EDB (Execute Disabled Bit)
- Execute disabled memory protection.
- EVP (Enhanced Virus Protection)
- Do not perform memory protection
The NX feature may have several names listed above and may differ depending on your system. The best option here is to download the spec for your computer or motherboard if you can find it and search for NX in the manuals. Note that if you don’t even see any of these options, you may need to update your BIOS. If you have an old computer and haven’t updated the BIOS for a long time, the first thing to do is update it.
For my Dell, I had to update the BIOS to the latest version, then enable NX in the settings and it worked after that. I was able to install Windows 8 / Windows 10 without any problems.
Boot from USB / DVD
The only workaround that officially works if you don’t have NX enabled is to burn the ISO image to DVD, or create a bootable USB stick and then boot from the DVD or stick. Windows 8 has two installers: consumer and commercial. One is in the root of the DVD and the other is in the / sources directory. When you boot from DVD or flash drive, the commercial installer is launched and therefore does not check for NX and SSE2.
Please note that this is in preview only. It probably won’t work when Windows 8 finally comes out. At this point, if you see a blue screen during installation, your CPU is simply too old to run Windows 8. If your CPU doesn’t fully support NX, it won’t installed in any case.
If you are trying to update Consumer Preview to Release Preview, you may also receive this error. In this case, you should simply reformat and then perform a fresh installation of the Release Preview. It worked for some.
If you are still unable to install Windows 8 due to your processor incompatibility, please leave a comment here with your PC specifications and we will try to help. If you’re having an issue with processor incompatibility in Windows 10, read this post for many tips on how to fix it. Enjoy!