What Are the Minimum Specs for Windows 7 and Aero?

October 5, 2010, By Christian Cawley

Are you planning on upgrading to Windows 7, but are unsure if your PC, laptop or netbook is compatible with the graphics-intensive Aero user interface?

A major selling point of Windows 7 is the user interface and if your PC cannot run Aero, you won’t be able to run the new operating system.

While this might be a disappointment, it can save you considerable time and money – something that might be better spent upgrading your PC to at least the hardware standard listed below…

Windows 7 Aero Requirements

With the launch of Windows Vista, Microsoft announced a set of minimum system requirements for a PC that would suitably run Aero. These Windows 7 Aero requirements allow a user to ensure that a PC or laptop is suitably equipped to run the UI before time is spent installing the new operating system.

For Windows 7, this is any version of the OS above and including Windows Home Premium (and therefore excluding Windows 7 Starter and Windows 7 Home Basic)

Although some PCs can manage with 512 MB of RAM, this isn’t by any means a guarantee, and 1 GB is recommended, in conjunction with a 1 GHz processor (either 32-bit or 64-bit). A 40 GB hard drive with at least 15 GB free space is also required, along with the obligatory DVD-ROM drive for installation of the OS.

The Aero user interface is of course graphics-intensive; you only have to look at the soft edges and animation seen in the Windows 7 Flip 3D to see that the Windows 7 Aero requirements need a decent graphics. A GPU compatible with DirectX 9 or above is needed here, with a Windows Display Driver Model driver, Pixel Shader 2.0 and at least 128 MB of Video RAM.

With all of these hardware elements in place, Aero should be good to go on your Windows 7 installation.

Where’s the Aero Glass?

If your system is borderline meeting the Windows 7 Aero requirements, you might find that although the Aero UI is present and correct, you have solid windows rather than the attractive semi-transparent ones you might have seen on demonstration versions of Windows 7.

To get around this, you should check your graphic card driver is up to date, and if it isn’t visit the vendor’s website to acquire an up-to-date driver.

Once this has been checked and upgraded, you should find that the Aero glass effect is now working!

Configuring Windows Aero

You don’t have to stick with the default Aero styles, of course – these can altered in the Control Panel. The best way to access the settings is to go to Start and type ‘aero’ in the Search box, and press Enter. You should now see the Personalization screen, where you can change Windows Colour and transparency, your Desktop background, or even select a new Aero Theme.

Several Aero themes are included within Windows 7, changing upon your location in the world. For instance, British users get a United Kingdom theme complete with a series of rotating desktop backgrounds displaying well-known landmarks and landscapes.

More Aero themes are available online, based on video games, locations, and even a collection of background images from www.bing.com!

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