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Replacing the CPU for Windows 8 requirements could easily cause you to replace much more than just the CPU. There may be other alternatives.

I just ran the Windows 8 upgrade assistant. It told me that my Pentium 4 CPU does not support NS (whatever that is) and that Windows 8 will not install on my computer. Bummer! Unfortunately, a new computer is not currently an option for me. I'm wondering if I might replace the CPU with a Windows 8 compatible one? And if that might be a viable option. Do you foresee any problems making this impractical? I assembled my computer from components a few years ago so it's not a brand name machine. Any alternative suggestions you might have would be most welcome.

In this excerpt from Answercast #96 I look at some possibilities in upgrading a self-built computer so it can run Windows 8.

Replace CPU for Windows 8 requirements

Unfortunately, it's very difficult for me to say. I think the chances of your being able to do a CPU swap with a CPU that actually supports the features required by Windows 8 is probably pretty low.

It really depends on the exact motherboard you have; the exact CPU you have - and if that CPU has the exact same connections (what we typically call pinout) as a newer CPU - and if there's a newer CPU that would actually fit the same socket as the existing CPU you have.

My guess is the answer's, "Probably not." You might be able to replace the motherboard. I don't know... since you've built it from components yourself, then that might be an option. Finding a motherboard that would fit in the same enclosure you're currently using could be a different way to go.

It does mean you'll probably end up replacing more than just the CPU. You'll probably end up replacing the RAM because it will be different. You may very well end up having to replace your video card or use a different on-board video card.

You get the idea. I mean there's a lot more change going on when you're changing the motherboard.

"Does not support NS?"

The NS? My assumption is that what you're really referring to here is the NX bit.

What that is, is a hardware feature in newer CPUs that allows the software to say, "This data over here? You can never, ever, run that as a program."

That's an important security feature because what that allows the system to do is to stop malware that tries to do exactly that. That is what a lot of malware, in the past especially, has been known to do. It actually loads itself in as if it were data, as if it were like a document of yours and then says, "Ok, computer, go run this stuff... Even though it looks like it's a document, I'm going to have you actually treat it like a computer program" and the processor happily would do it because there was no concept of stuff you couldn't execute.

The NX bit is exactly that. It's a way for the system to say, "You know what, anything I put in this memory over here is only data. It is never a computer program and anybody that tries to actually run it, as a computer program is wrong and should be stopped."

So, it's a security feature that's important and yes, Windows 8 now requires that be present.

Hardware upgrades

Unfortunately, I don't really have good feeling for an answer for you here. Like I said, my suspicion is you're not going to be able to replace just the CPU. It's going to require at least a motherboard upgrade and at that point, then, you are spending a little bit of money.

It may in fact be time to swap the entire computer. I just don't know.

Honestly, in your situation, if I were strapped for cash and not really interested in upgrading the hardware to the point where you could run Windows 8, I'd seriously consider something else.

Windows 7 - if you've got it; stick with it. Otherwise, consider one of the free versions of Linux that are out there. There are many. They are very good. They can run a lot of things depending on how you use your computer and what software you need to run.

They can in fact fit the bill for a great price known as free.

Unfortunately, I think ultimately - the answer is no. I don't think you're going to be able to do what you're looking to do; but maybe there are some alternatives.

(Transcript lightly edited for readability.)

Next from Answercast 96- Which is better, cable or DSL?

Article C6330 - March 1, 2013 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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8 Comments
Peter
March 5, 2013 9:16 AM

You might find that the CPU supports the NX bit but your BIOS doesn't.
If you are lucky, you might find that a later BIOS is all you need.

bill fuhrmann
March 5, 2013 9:51 AM

Really, a Pentium 4 processor is so far out of date (and I am assuming that the rest of the system is similarly dated) that trying to replace the mother board with one that takes a suitable processor will have a domino effect of things that need to be updated that the cost will end up being more than buying a suitable kit of parts or a complete computer that is capable for the current software.

Unless you need to update your software for some particular reason, I would keep using it until you have the ability to get the new computer.

Robert Cad
March 5, 2013 10:40 AM

Just a tip you may want to consider is that "inside information" is saying that a lot of electronics prices are going to drop drastically in mid March. I have also seen some refurbished (usually the same warranty but be sure to check) on Newegg.com. There are some HP desktops for as low as $109 & $129 but check. I also have not heard much good about Win 8 except for Microsoft. Revenue is #1 and then MS is trying to come up with an operating system that can be used for PCs, tablets, phones so that they will all be able to swap information back and forth easily. If you don't intend to do all these things then you really don't need Win 8.
I also agree with Leo that the chances of finding a new CPU that fits the motherboard socket that you have now and fits the Win 8 requirements are slim to none.

limeybiker
March 5, 2013 11:38 AM

I upgraded my Dell GX280 P4 2.8HT CPU, to a 3.4 64bit compatible and it runs windows 8 like a dream, you will have to buy a compatible video card though.

dean simes
March 5, 2013 6:11 PM

As I recall when W8 update does not find NX enabled the message that results is that NX is not supported or not switched on. Exploring further in the accompanying information the advice is to look for it under Security in the BIOS set up, and to enable it.
There are many Pentium 4 processors, and some do have the equivalent of the NX. It is called XD (Execute Disable) and is probably in the "Advanced" section (not Security) of the BIOS set up. It will need to be enabled.

johnpro2
March 6, 2013 3:57 PM

I run Win 8 on a Pentium 4 ,2.8Ghz, 1GB RAM with no dedicated video card .It has run fine so far with no install issues. The NS feature mentioned did not arise , so I guess all is well ?
Jp

Harish Dobhal
March 7, 2013 12:26 AM

Well, there IS a solution in my humble opinion. You should follow these steps:

#1 Check with your mainboard guide which processors are supported by it. Make a set of these.

#2 Check minimum required processors for win8. Make another set of these.

#3 Now find out if there are common processors in these two sets. If you do find at least one processor common in the sets, then you got it! Otherwise, as Leo says, look for other options and forget upgrading as that's going to be costlier option.

Good Luck.

johnpro2
March 9, 2013 1:03 PM

Many older PC systems will only run the 32 bit version of Win 8 ....NOT the 64 bit version.
jp

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