Fix “Your PC’s CPU is not compatible with Windows 8/10” Error

I have recently installed Windows 8/Windows 10 on a number of machines to play around with it and it installed on all machines except one without any problems. on an older one Dell computer I have, I get the following error during installation:

Your PC’s CPU isn’t compatible with Windows 8

I was pretty sure that Windows 8 could be installed on the computer after looking up Windows 8 system requirements, so I was surprised to see this post. You may also get this message when installing Windows 10. Checking the following links will show you the basic RAM, CPU requirements for Windows 8 & 10:

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/windows-10-specifications

https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/12660/windows-8-system-requirements

Unfortunately, these don’t go into super specific details about the requirements, which is why 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 that you can install Windows 8 and Windows 10 without any problems.

CPU Features

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

Now most modern CPUs support these features by default and that’s not a problem. If you’re getting this error, chances are NX isn’t enabled in your BIOS. Check out this white paper from Microsoft to find out if your system supports NX and SSE2:

http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/hardware/hh975398.aspx

It also walks through some steps to show you how to enable NX if your system supports it. Basically, though, you’ll need to go into your BIOS and scroll through some of the advanced pages until you find something related to the following:

  • EDB (Execute Disabled Bit)
  • Run Disabled Memory Security
  • EVP (Enhanced Virus Protection)
  • Don’t Run Memory Security

nx function

The NX function may have different names as mentioned above and it may be slightly different depending on your system. The best option here is to download the spec sheet for your computer or motherboard, if you can find it, and look for NX in the manuals. Keep in mind that if you don’t even see these options, it could be because your BIOS needs to be updated. If you have an older computer and not yet updated the BIOS in a while, then the first thing to do is update it.

For mine Dell, I had to update the BIOS to the latest version and then enable NX in the settings and after that everything worked fine. I was able to install Windows 8/Windows 10 without any problems.

Boot from USB/DVD

The only workaround that officially works if NX isn’t enabled is to burn the ISO image to a DVD or create a bootable USB flash drive and then boot from the DVD or flash drive. There are two installers in Windows 8, the consumer version and the commercial one. One is in the root directory of the DVD and the other is in the /sources directory. When you boot from the DVD or flash drive, the commercial installer runs and therefore does not check for NX and SSE2.

Note that this is only with the release preview. This probably won’t be how it works when Windows 8 is finally released. At that point, if you get a blue screen during the installation, your CPU is just too old and Windows 8 cannot run. If your CPU doesn’t support NX at all, it won’t install anyway.

If you try to upgrade the Consumer Preview to the Release Preview, you may also get this error. In this case, you just need to reformat and then do a fresh install of the Release Preview. This has worked for a few people.

If you still can’t install Windows 8 because your CPU isn’t compatible, comment here with your PC specs and we’ll try to help. If this CPU incompatible issue with Windows 10, go to this post that gives a lot more tips to solve it. Enjoying!

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