Windows XP seems to come with two sets of system requirements, which is confusing for many would-be upgraders. Microsoft issued a minimum requirement for hardware performance and capabilities, and if you don't meet that requirement, XP simply refuses to install. But the company also issued a minimum recommendation -- a set of far more stringent specifications that should result in optimum performance.
So, which set applies to you? We've taken the last six months to play around with various hardware configurations and found that you need only worry about the minimum requirements. You can run XP on any system that meets or exceeds those specs -- namely a 233MHz CPU with 64MB of RAM, 1.5GB of free drive space, 800 by 600 display resolution, and a CD-ROM drive. But if you want XP to run quickly and stably, the minimum recommendation is the target to aim for.
Over the past six months, we've determined that XP runs just fine on a Pentium III-500 with 128MB of RAM. As expected, however, boosting both hard drive speed and RAM makes a significant difference in XP's performance. For best results, choose a hard drive that spins at 7,200 or 10,000rpm rather than 5,400rpm, a fast processor (400, 600, or 800MHz rather than 233 or 266MHz), and generous amounts of RAM (256 or 512MB rather than 64 or 128MB). You should probably avoid 8- or 16-bit ISA or legacy I/O cards for sound and video, and we highly recommend PCI or AGP video cards, too, in order to enjoy XP's nifty video effects, such as menus that fade in and out and drop shadows on windows and desktop icons.
Many complaints received by ZDNet indicate that several motherboard and hardware vendors have not provided, and do not plan to provide, XP drivers. However, we've found that most hardware works well using Windows 2000 drivers. For example, you can't install Windows XP if your motherboard contains the HighPoint Technologies HPT-366 chipset (Highpoint's tech-support personnel confirm this) -- XP just doesn't have the drivers to support the chipset. To get XP to work on that hardware, you can download and use Windows 2000 drivers for the chipset or contact HighPoint Technologies' help desk and ask for XP-specific drivers, which you must load early in the XP setup process.
|Microsoft's Windows XP system requirements|
|Minimum specification ||Required ||Recommended |
|Processor speed (MHz)||233||300 or higher|
|RAM (MB)||64||128 or higher|
|Free hard disk space (GB)||1.5||> 1.5|
|Display resolution||800 x 600||800 x 600 or higher|