Over the past few months, we have assembled a computer system that has pushed Microsoft's latest operating system, Windows 8 (Developer Preview) to its limit.
But rather than going for the most powerful computer, we went the other way and looked for the slowest system on which Windows 8 can run, and after many trials and many errors, we managed to get it to run on a system based on an AMD Duron 1GHz with 1GB memory (two 512MB modules) and a 32MB Nvidia Riva TNT2 dedicated card.
The Duron 1GHz was launched back in August 2001, more than a decade ago, and comes with a 64KB L2 cache; whereas the Riva TNT 2 was launched two years earlier, at a time where the likes of the Voodoo 3 and the Matrox G400 were roaming the earth.
Other system components included a Gigabyte GA-7ZX socket-A motherboard (on a VIA chipset), a DVD writer and a 40GB hard disk drive. Issues we encountered while putting together our system included: finding the right processor (running at 1GHz or above, not all P3), getting the right memory modules (we couldn't find motherboards with four memory slots to accommodate 256MB modules so had to settle for 512MB ones) or working ones, getting the right hard disk drive (more than 30GB), the right booting process (install Windows XP first and then Windows 8, as many older motherboards do not support booting from a DVD) and the right system (servers would be a no-no because of obscure SCSI drivers for RAID controllers).
The installation process was flawless, albeit very slow. Initially, the computer would run like a dog, but adjusting visual effects for best performance, things have improved. We were not able to disable the Metro UI using Metro Controller as planned.
Overall, it is a powerful statement from Microsoft that they have managed to cut Windows 8 resource demands so that it can run - dare I say, comfortably - on a decade old system without the need for additional drivers.
Note that the Windows 8 Developer Preview needs 1GB RAM to install (no shared memory please) BUT, you can get it to run on 256MB RAM only, at which stage, it struggles. We would like to thank one of our readers (Guy Adams from GNASupport) who generously donated the system to us. Here's the (long) video of the journey from booting up on a barebone PC to viewing Windows 8 on a glorious 55-inch LCD screen.