How to Check If Your Computer Has a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) Chip

TPM hardware provides a tamper-resistant way to store encryption keys on a computer. On Windows 10, 8, and 7, a TPM is normally required to enable and use encryption features like BitLocker. Here’s how to check whether your PC has a TPM chip, enable your TPM if it’s disabled, or add a TPM chip to a PC without one.

Option One: Check the TPM Management Tool

The TPM management tool built into Windows will show you whether your PC has a TPM. To open it, press Windows+R to open a run dialog window. Type tpm.msc into it and press Enter to launch the tool.

If you see information about the TPM in the PC—including a message at the bottom right corner of the window informing you which TPM specification version your chip supports—your PC does have a TPM.

If you see a “Compatible TPM cannot be found” message instead, your PC does not have a TPM.

Check if Your Computer Has TPM Hardware That’s Disabled

On some PCs, it’s possible to disable the TPM chip in the computer’s UEFI firmware or BIOS. If the TPM chip is disabled at this level, it’s deactivated and won’t appear in Windows—even though your PC actually has the hardware.

To check for this, restart your PC into its UEFI or BIOS settings screen. The exact process is different on every PC. Some modern PCs require you go through the Windows 10 or 8 advanced startup options menu, while others still require you press a specific key—like Delete, F12, or Escape—during the boot-up process. Check your computer’s documentation for more information, or check your motherboard’s documentation if you built your own PC.

Look through the settings screen and see if you see an option named “Trusted Platform Module”, “TPM”, “TPM Support”, or something like that. If it’s disabled, enable it from here, save your settings, and reboot. The TPM will be available for use within Windows.

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TPMs also show up in the Device Manager, so it may be worth ensuring your TPM isn’t disabled in the Device Manager too (though this is unlikely). If you don’t see “Security Devices” with a TPM in Device Manager, and there isn’t an entry in the BIOS, you probably don’t have one.

How to Add a TPM Chip to a PC

If you built your own PC, you may able to add a TPM chip to it. Search for a TPM chip that’s sold as an add-on module. You’ll need one that supports the exact motherboard inside your PC.

Laptops and desktop PCs you buy off the shelf generally have a TPM chip that’s soldered—permanently attached—to the motherboard. It’s not possible to add TPM chips to an older PC that doesn’t have the hardware to accept one. Consult your motherboard manufacturer’s documentation for more information about whether your PC supports a TPM chip and which one it requires.

Image Credit: FxJ

Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He's as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry. Connect with him on Twitter.