Windows 11 running with a tiny amount of system RAM is something we’ve seen before, but this is a new low for the OS (in a good way).
NTDEV, the developer responsible for the stripped-back version of Windows 11 called Tiny11, has got Microsoft’s operating system functioning in a PC with only 176MB of system memory.
How is this possible? By removing pretty much everything the dev could, and using an “extensive trial and error” process to see which services and drivers Windows 11 required to boot (then getting rid of everything else).
Tiny11 has previously been run in as little as 196MB of RAM, the catch with that being that the OS was incredibly slow. You could do things, just about, but at glacial speeds.
With NTDEV’s successful attempt at firing up Windows 11 in just 176MB, the system runs relatively responsively, and for example Task Manager is brought up in just a few seconds. (No, that isn’t snappy, but compare it to the 15-minute wait for Task Manager to appear with the 196MB demonstration).
It’s an eye-opening difference, for sure, but there’s a big catch here, which we’ll discuss next.
Analysis: An impressive feat with a twist of a cheat
The cheat NTDEV has used to do this is that they’ve trimmed Tiny11 down even further and removed a major element – File Explorer – allowing Windows 11 to run faster because it doesn’t have to bring up the desktop.
That’s right, as you can see in the video clip above, there is no desktop, with the system booting to a command line. You then have to type manual commands (in text) to run different apps and functions, which is hardly ideal. Indeed, it’s a very clunky way of operating, but it does allow for the OS to be much faster.
To put this achievement in perspective, normally Window 11 requires 4GB of RAM to run, which is 4096MB. That’s 23x the amount the OS is seen running in here.
What’s the point of this? Well, it’s a fun exercise and nothing more, as nobody sane would want to operate Windows 11 in this manner. Much like huge overclocks on GPUs and CPUs that are completely impractical – and happen for seconds, only thanks to exotic cooling with say, liquid nitrogen – these are feats undertaken just to prove it can be done. Although in this case, the goal isn’t big numbers, but small ones – as tiny as possible.
Is 176MB a world-record low for running Windows 11 (functionally)? We think it could be, but then, technically, are you running Windows if there’s no desktop? There are still windows, of course – brought up via the command line – but without a desktop and icons, the core graphical interface, this isn’t really Windows, is it?
Still, hats off to NTDEV for what remains an impressive achievement.
Via Tom's Hardware