Microsoft’s Windows 11 TPM Requirement Has Scalpers Seeing Green, Consumers Seeing Red
Scalpers are an opportunistic bunch, aren't they? Try shopping for a graphics card or one of the latest generation game consoles (Xbox Series X/S and PlayStation 5), and you will run into jacked up pricing on eBay and Craigslist, because these parts are in short supply (relative to demand). Here is one more item to add to the pile—Trusted Platform Module 2.0 chips. Say what?
TPM provides an added layer of security by storing cryptographic keys that can be created with encryption software, such as Windows BitLocker. Without the key, data remains encrypted. But why the sudden spike in demand? Microsoft recently announced the next generation of Windows, called Windows 11, and one of the requirements is to enable TPM encryption.
You may not have given much thought to this in the past, However, as the release of Windows 11 draws closer, Microsoft has made available a PC Health Check application that checks your current setup for compatibility with the upcoming OS. To recap, here are the core system requirements for Windows 11...
- Processor: 1GHz or faster with 2 or more cores on a 64-bit CPU or SoC
- Memory: 4GB RAM
- Storage: 64GB or larger
- Graphics Card: DirectX 12 compatible / WDDM 2.x
- Display: > 9 inches with HD resolution (720p)
- Internet: Microsoft account and internet connectivity required for setup
- TPM: Trusted Platform Module (TPM) version 2.0
The requirements are not super stringent, but the TPM check is the part that is tripping up a lot of systems when running the app, even on modern hardware. I initially failed as well, on a setup very similar to our recently reviewed Falcon Northwest Talon PC, with a Rocket Lake processor and Ampere graphics. This was because TPM was not enabled on my system when I first ran the app (more on this in a moment).
If you go shopping for a TPM chip, you will see that a lot of listings are out of stock. It is possible that people are panic-buying TPM chips after running the compatibility test, but we also know that scalpers are taking advantage of the situation as well. A quick visit to eBay shows that these little modules are selling for around $100 with shipping factored in, as shown in the screenshot above.
See that ASUS TPM 2.0 chip that sold for $87.40, plus $8.88 for shipping? Dating back to September of last year, it was selling for $8.99 on Amazon. According to a price history check with CamelCamelCamel, the highest it ever sold for on Amazon was $19.99, and the lowest was $7.99. Now it's selling on eBay for 5-10 times more.
Second-hand pricing could become even more ridiculous as times goes on. Looking at current listings on eBay (as opposed to ones that reflect recent sales), some scalpers are trying to hawk these modules for $150 or more, plus shipping fees.
Folks, it is way too early to go into panic buying mode. For one, who knows if Microsoft will change the requirement by the time Windows 11 ships. Probably not, but it is possible. Secondly, this is a new situation, and it is conceivable that companies will crank out more TPM modules in the weeks and months ahead, in light of the situation.
You Can Probably Enable TPM In Your Motherboard's BIOS
The biggest reason not to panic-buy, however, is because your system might already feature TPM 2.0 security, it just may not be enabled. If the PC Health Check app says your PC is not compatible with Windows 11 because of the TPM requirement, then check to see if you have the option to enable TPM in your BIOS.
This may not be an obvious setting in your BIOS. For example, on my ASUS ROG Maximus XIII Hero (z590 platform), the setting can be found by going to Advanced > PCH-FW Configuration, and then selecting Enable from the pull-down menu for PTT.
PTT is the abbreviation for Intel's Platform Trust Technology. This basically refers to TPM technology built into compatible CPUs, rather than a dedicated chip or module on the motherboard itself. This is something Intel has been baking into its CPUs since its 4th Gen Core "Haswell" processors released way back in 2013.
Chances are, if you own a relatively modern system, you meet the TPM requirement for Windows 11, but probably need to enable it in your BIOS. On many PCs, this is disabled by default. It will vary by model, but check your motherboard's manual for where the setting resides, or hit up Google.
Our own Ben Funk found the option on his ASUS X570 TUF Gaming Pro motherboard by navigating to Advanced > TPM Device Selection, and then selecting "Firmware TPM" from the pull-down menu (the default option is "Discrete TPM").
Bottom line—if you intend to upgrade to Windows 11 but are failing the TPM check, don't just head to eBay and pick up an overpriced module.