Resouce Guides / Windows 2000 Server / Introduction

What do you need to run Windows 2000 Server?

All the advancements, improved functionality, and new features in Windows 2000 also bring new hardware requirements. While many system administrators will be able to run Windows 2000 on their existing servers and workstations, others will find they need to upgrade their hardware to run the OS.

Windows 2000 supports new hardware features, including Plug and Play BIOS and expansion cards; support for USB, IEEE1394, and Fibre Channel; hierarchical storage management; I20 architecture; and Windows NT Server running on 64-bit platforms. All these features are hardware hungry, of course.

While there is no official minimum configuration for Windows 2000 Server, you can take some hints from the Hardware Design Guide Version 2.0 for Microsoft Windows NT Server. The document, a joint project between Microsoft and Intel, contains general guidelines for Windows 2000 Server. It can be downloaded from

You should consider, at a minimum:

  • A 400-MHz processor
  • 256 KB Level 2 cache
  • 128 MB of RAM
  • Support for Advanced Configuration and Power Interface Specification,
    Version 1.0
  • Support for 32- and 64-bit buses and devices compliant with PCI 2.1
  • No ISA expansion slots
  • A Year-2000 BIOS

Microsoft updates Windows 2000 Server's Requirements

Officially, Microsoft states that Windows 2000 Server's requirements include a 166-MHz or higher Pentium or Alpha processor, 64 MB of RAM, 2 GB hard disk space, VGA monitor and video card, keyboard and mouse, and a network card or CD-ROM for retrieving setup files.

It's recommended that, when installing Windows 2000 Server as an enterprise-class box, you use a 450-MHz or faster processor with 512 KB of L2 cache. If multiple processors are used, RAM should be bumped to 256 MB.

For Windows 2000 Server, 2 GB of hard drive space is recommended. Add two more gigabytes if you're installing Remote Installation Server.

According to John Sheesley, if you don't have the proper hardware (or hardware that's close to these specifications), you'll need it. Sheesley recommends downloading the Hardware Design Guide Version 2.0 for Microsoft Windows NT Server, as well as the PC 99 System Design Guide, from This guide, also written by Microsoft and Intel with contributions from leading PC manufacturers, provides PC system definitions and bus and device design requirements and recommendations for 1999-2000.

Ron Kauffman, MCSE, an independent consultant and network engineer for a private college, found Windows 2000 Beta 3 was indeed power hungry. Following installation on a P200, 32-MB RAM box, he experienced several GPFs. Moving the OS to a P300 with 64 MB of RAM eliminated the problems he believed were due to the demand placed on system resources by Active Desktop.

Regardless of whether your hardware needs more RAM, stronger processors, or larger hard drives, you should ensure that it's listed on Microsoft's Hardware Compatibility List for Windows 2000.

To determine if your hardware is Windows 2000 Server compatible, you can search Microsoft's HCL at

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