Windows 10's light background image logo.

If your computer runs Windows 7, there’s a good chance it will also run Windows 10. Both operating systems have similar hardware requirements. Any new PC you buy or build will almost certainly run Windows 10, too.

You can still upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 10 for free. If you’re on the fence, we recommend taking advantage of the offer before Microsoft stops supporting Windows 7.

Windows 10’s System Requirements Are (Almost) the Same As Windows 7’s

Here are Windows 10’s hardware requirements, straight from Microsoft:

  • CPU: 1GHz or faster
  • RAM: 1GB for 32-bit Windows or 2GB for 64-bit Windows
  • Hard Disk: 32GB or larger
  • Graphics Card: DirectX 9-compatible or newer with a WDDM 1.0 driver

Windows 7’s requirements from a decade earlier are the same, although Windows 10 needs a bit more hard disk space. Windows 7 needs 16GB of storage for 32-bit systems or 20GB for 64-bit systems. Windows 8’s system requirements are the same as Windows 7’s.

In other words, if your computer runs Windows 7 or 8 today, Windows 10 should run on it—assuming it doesn’t have a tiny hard drive.

To check how much internal storage your PC has on Windows 7, open Windows Explorer and look under Computer.

Windows 7's Computer pane showing a local disk.

These Are Minimum System Requirements

To be clear, these are minimum requirements. We don’t recommend using Windows 10 on an underpowered PC that just meets this minimum bar, but we don’t recommend running Windows 7 on such a system, either.

For example, while 32GB is enough disk space to install the Windows 10 operating system, you’ll need more space to install programs and download files.

And, while a 1GHz CPU and 1GB of RAM can technically run the 32-bit version of Windows 10, modern programs and even modern websites may struggle to perform well. That’s true on Windows 7, too.

If your computer can run Windows 7 well, it can likely run Windows 10 well. If Windows 7 and your applications perform slowly on your system, expect the same from Windows 10.

Windows 10 May Even Be Faster Than Windows 7

It’s worth noting that Windows 10 may even be faster in some ways. For example, the latest versions of Windows 10 incorporate a better, faster solution to the Spectre flaw. If you have an older CPU, it will perform more slowly on Windows 7, which has a less sophisticated Spectre patch that slows down your system more.

Windows 10 also has a lot of under-the-hood work that’s taken place over a decade of development since Windows 7 was released. For example, Microsoft engineered Windows 8 to use less RAM than Windows 7. Fast Startup, enabled by default, can make your PC boot faster.

The core operating system may need more disk space, but it’s been streamlined. This isn’t another Windows Vista situation: Windows 10 was designed to perform well on computers that ran Windows 8, and Windows 8 was designed to perform well on PCs that run Windows 7.

You Can Still Upgrade to Windows 10 for Free

Windows 10 installer on a Windows 7 background image.

If you are using Windows 7, you can still upgrade to Windows 10 for free. All you need is a valid Windows 7 (or 8) key, and you can install a properly licensed, activated version of Windows 10.

We encourage you to take advantage of this before Microsoft ends support for Windows 7 on January 14, 2020. Upgrading to Windows 10 means your PC will continue getting security updates. Without upgrading, only businesses that pay for pricey support contracts can keep getting updates.

RELATED: You Can Still Get Windows 10 for Free With a Windows 7, 8, or 8.1 Key

Consider Buying a New PC

If you’re concerned your PC may not be able to run Windows 10 well, and you’re still using Windows 7, consider taking the opportunity to buy a new PC. Modern computers have faster CPUs, speedier storage, better graphics hardware, and better battery life than older systems.

Whether you’re looking for a budget laptop or a desktop PC that won’t break the bank, there are lots of great options that won’t break the bank. If your Windows 7 system lasted you many years, there’s a good chance a new PC will do the same.

RELATED: Our 5 Favorite Laptops Under $500

Chris Hoffman Chris Hoffman
Chris Hoffman is Editor in Chief of How-To Geek. He's written about technology for nearly a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami's NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read more than 500 million times---and that's just here at How-To Geek.
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