How To Check If Your Processor Supports PAE, NX And SSE2 For Windows 8 Installation

Windows 8 has just been released officially on 26th of October, 2012. When we go to Microsoft Windows 8 page, we get a straight forward Windows 8 system requirements from Microsoft. You will see the following system requirements:

  • Processor: 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster with support for PAE, NX, and SSE2
  • RAM: 1 gigabyte (GB) (32-bit) or 2 GB (64-bit)
  • Hard disk space: 16 GB (32-bit) or 20 GB (64-bit)
  • Graphics card: Microsoft DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM driver

If we look closely, we’ll see that we need a processor that supports PAE, NX and SSE2. What are these and how we can check whether these are present in our processor or not? Let’s go through the explanation first.

PAE stands for Physical Address Extension. Normally a 32-bit of Windows install will only be able to access 4GB of RAM while essentially using only 3GB. PAE enables 32-bit processors to access more than 4GB RAM.

NX stands for No Execute page protection. NX processor bit allows the processor to help and safeguard PC from malicious attacks from hackers and crackers. For NX bit to be set, PAE needs to be enabled first.

SSE2 stands for Streaming SIMD Extensions 2 which is a standard on processors for a long time. This will enhance the security of your hardware against malicious software attacks by viruses and other malware.

These three are actually a hard core requirement for Windows 8 installation. If anyone of them is missing, Windows 8 will not install on your computer. So this has to be taken care even before you buy a new license of Windows 8.

There are two methods to check if these three processor features are supported by your CPU or not. In the end we will also try to enable these features.

There is a small portable utility called CoreInfo which lets you see whether these features are supported by your processor or not. Let’s go step by step and check our processor for supported features.

  1. Download CoreInfo tool from Sysinternals. (Direct download link here)
  2. Extract the zip file and open Coreinfo.exe through command prompt. If you double click the executable file, it will open and disappear. So you will need to open command prompt and run the exe file from there. An easy way to open the file in command prompt is to first open the command prompt, drag and drop the file to the command prompt window and hit enter.
  3. This will open a list of features supported by your CPU. You will need to find these three features PAE, NX and SSE2 and make sure they are supported.
    Checking for compatible processor features for Windows 8 installation
  4. The star (*) in front of each feature in the list will show that your processor supports these features and Windows 8 can be installed on your PC.

If you are unsure of anything, just download the upgrade assistant for Windows 8 and run it. It will clearly tell you whether you can install Windows 8 on your computer or not.

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