Windows 7: How Low Can You Go?

Did You Say Pentium 4? Really?

Did You Say Pentium 4? Really?

Having managed to get Windows 7 running smoothly on the HP Mini 2140, we decided to take it a step further and try to get it installed on a much older system. With the low minimum specs requirement for Windows 7, we weren't expecting any problems installing and getting Windows 7 to run - or at least that's what we thought.

Turns out we were wrong.

Well, just wrong on the installation process, but more on that later. Let's start with the basics first: the system requirements. Like Windows Vista, Windows 7 boasts of very modest requirements: 1GHz processor and 1GB RAM. A DirectX 9 capable graphics card for Aero is recommended but if you don't fancy Aero, any graphics card would do the job. The real kicker is unlike Vista, Windows 7 will run smoothly on just 1GB RAM while Vista tends to struggle even with 2GB RAM. Microsoft has certainly kept their word when they meant they really streamlined the OS and its resource allocation needs. And so we set out try our first installation attempt on this long unused system:-

Our first rig featuring an Intel Pentium 4 2.4GHz (Northwood), Intel 845 motherboard, 1GB DDR RAM, a 7200RPM 40GB HDD and Riva TNT2 graphics. We kid you not.

Our installation problem here lies with the older hardware - getting it to boot from the USB drive was almost impossible and since the previous installation of Windows XP on this aged system was corrupt, we couldn't quite boot into XP to install. Long story short, we reinstalled Windows XP, before installing Windows 7 the same way we did in our previous write-up. So how was Windows 7 on our Pentium 4 2.4GHz machine with 1GB memory? Well, in a word: great! The OS was smooth as silk though it was lacking the prettier Aero interface due to our Riva TNT2 card (which some of you may fondly remember). All in all, Windows 7 worked like a breeze on this machine though it did take twice as long to boot (30 seconds for Windows XP compared to 59 seconds for Windows 7).

So sure it works fine on a decent early Pentium 4 machine you say, but what about if we go right down to the base minimum requirements? Take the jump to the next page to find out!

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