PC motherboard TPMs Windows

On PC Motherboard TPMs and Windows 11

If you’re any kind of PC enthusiast, whether in the gaming realm or any other, chances are you’re already well aware of the upcoming launch of Windows 11 later in 2021. This major event from Microsoft has created much anticipation in numerous areas, but also some consternation – and one of the areas some folks are concerned about is the potential requirement for PCs to run a Trusted Platform Module, or TPM, to be able to even get started on Windows 11.

At Xidax, we’re happy to assist clients with a huge range of custom desktops, laptops, gaming PCs, workstations and other PC solutions – but also to help out with numerous hardware and software themes for your operating system. We’ve already begun the process of working with clients on expected Windows 11 developments, including whether their machine will require a TPM to run this platform. Here’s a primer on what TPM refers to, the formats it uses, and how you can prepare yourself for the launch of Windows 11 in this area.

Trusted Platform Module (TPM) Basics

A TPM refers to a small chip, or sometimes another format (more on this below), that’s found within the computer’s motherboard. Its role is to provide security as the PC boots up – it has solutions that will be able to stop the PC from booting up if it’s hacked or broken, for instance, and is generally very reliable.

When you turn on a PC that’s using encryption and a TPM, the TPM will send a unique “cryptographic key” to the machine. If that key arrives in the normal way, the encryption of the drive will be unlocked, and the PC will be allowed to boot up. If there is a problem with the key, on the other hand, the PC will not boot up, preventing it from being impacted by hacking or other risks.

To be clear, the TPM does more than this overall. It’s also involved in several motherboard functions after the computer boots, including many encryption areas that might be required for messages and SSL certifications. For detailed specifics on all the roles a TPM plays on your device, contact one of our team members.

Formats Used

As we noted above, the majority of TPMs come in chip form. Many are already installed on your motherboard when you purchase it, and others can be bought separately and installed on your own.

However, there are alternative formats here for those who prefer them. TPMs, for instance, can be integrated directly into the main processor of the PC, either using a chip or a code format – this latter option is known as firmware. This can be done in secure, safe ways that protect the data involved. There are also software-only versions of TPMs, though these may not be advisable due to vulnerabilities in areas like security bugs or tampering.

Windows 11 and TPM

Many early sources in the computer industry have already begun to indicate that Windows 11 will require TPM usage for boot-up, and this has caused some hubbub. Both Windows 7 and Windows 10 have plenty of support for TPMs, and Windows 10 has even begun requiring TPM 2.0 support or greater for desktops – will the same be the case for Windows 11?

So far, it appears so. Microsoft has repeatedly stated that TPM 2.0 is required for Windows 11 – this is up from original rumors that had them only requiring TPM 1.2. If you’re unsure whether your PC is compatible for Windows 11, including not just TPM but also several other areas, you can check this Windows PC Health Checker offered my Microsoft.

Checking for a TPM

If you’re like most computer users and plan to upgrade to Windows 11 once it releases, your next step here will usually be to determine whether your current PC has a TPM 2.0 module installed. This will usually be the case for any machine built in the last five years or so, though there are exceptions here.

For those who know how, the simplest way to check into whether your machine has a TPM is to enter the BIOS and see if the option is available. If you do not know how to do this, however, there are alternatives.

The first of these is to look through your motherboard manual, which should note whether or not a TPM module is installed, plus which module is present if so. As long as you’ve kept your manual on-hand and have not confused it with any other motherboard, this should give you your answer in most cases. Even if you’ve misplaced the manual, as long as you know the manufacturer of the motherboard and its precise identifiers, you can contact the manufacturer or visit their website to find the relevant manual.

In still other cases, you might use a basic Run command on your PC to check whether TPM is enabled. Here are the steps for this:

  • Press WIN + R to open Run
  • Type tpm.msc, then press enter
  • Your Run system will load Trusted Platform Module Management, and will inform you whether it’s enabled in your BIOS. Under “Status,” a machine with a TPM will say something along the lines of “The TPM is ready for use.” For machines without, you will see a notice informing you that the TPM cannot be found on the computer.

If you don’t have a TPM module on your motherboard, fear not. It can be added for an easily affordable price, and our team will be happy to assist you with proper installation that doesn’t cause any problems.

For more on Trusted Platform Modules and Windows 11, or to learn about any of our custom computers, speak to the staff at Xidax today.