Windows 11 compatibility of Mini PCs that come preinstalled with Windows 11

You would think that if you buy a computer that comes preinstalled with Windows 11 it would satisfy the minimum system requirements for Windows 11.

Well, think again. We recently bought two BMAX B6 Power Mini PCs from Geekbuying that came with Windows 11 pro preinstalled. Being a bit on the paranoid side, I did not want to use the preinstalled OS, so I formatted the SSD and proceeded to install Windows 11 from a USB stick I just had created with the Microsoft Media Creation Tool. The installer told me that the PC does not meet the minimum system requirements for Windows 11. Of course, being from Microsoft, it did not specify what the actual problem was 🙁
The tool WhyNotWin11 found the following problems with it:

  1. CPU Compatitibility: Not supported (according to the display it’s an Intel Core i7-106ng7 – the label on the packaging says i7-1060ng7, which indeed is not on the list of supported CPUs from Microsoft)
  2. TPM Version: TPM Missing / Disabled

On the second computer where we already had replaced the preinstalled Windows 11 with a Windows 10 pro installation (which works fine btw.) I ran the Microsoft PC Health Check tool. It did not complain about the processor but also said it found no TPM 2.0 module.

Since these tools show different results, maybe the processor is fine and there is just some confusion about the actual processor model. But the TPM module is either missing or disabled and I found no way to enable it in the BIOS.

So in order to preinstall Windows 11 on that PC they must have used one of the hacks that bypass some of the checks in the installer. I also tried that and could successfully install it. But now Windows cannot be activated. That might be a unrelated problem but doesn’t inspire any confidence in this manufacturer (BMAX) of Mini PCs.

Having said that: I kind of like this small box. It’s fast, its silent and has lots of connectivity. But selling something with Windows 11 that isn’t actually compatible is a bummer.

Edit 2024-06-26: I read the preinstalled Windows key from both computers using the following command:

wmic path softwarelicensingservice get OA3xOriginalProductKey

and they are identical. That’s definitely not how it should be.

I then made a backup of the new Windows 11 installation, restored the backup of the preinstalled Windows 11 and read the key from that installation. Guess what: It’s the same key again. So, why can the preinstalled Windows 11 be activated with that key, but a new one cannot?

I tried another approach: Add a Microsoft account to the preinstalled Windows in the hope that it will store the valid(?) registration key in that Microsoft account. Then reinstall Windows 11 on that computer and use the account I just created to log in to the new installation. Of course this didn’t go as easy as expected. I selected that it is a work computer, but when I entered the email address I used for the Microsoft account, Windows told me that this didn’t look like a business email address and prevented me from continuing (WTF??!!). I had to go back an select that it is a home computer, where it then accepted my email address (which is actually an work email address!) and after pestering me with a lot of questions about storing stuff in “the cloud” and restoring Data – that doesn’t exist – from the cloud let me finish the installation. Unfortunately the new installation ended up as not activated just like my first try.

So, what did I learn?

  1. BMAX sells PCs preinstalled with Windows 11 that do not meet the minimum system requirements for Windows 11
  2. The preinstalled Windows 11 installation gets activated fine, for whatever reason.
  3. I couldn’t get a new Windows 11 installation to accept and activate the registration key stored in the BIOS.

This sounds fishy to me. I think BMAX in addition lying about Windows 11 compatibility of their PCs also installs an illegal Windows 11 license. I’ll think about returning these two PCs, even though I do like the hardware.