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Google Chrome ending support for older processors — what you need to know

Google Chrome
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If you're still using Chrome on a computer that's more than 15 years old, it might be a good time to consider upgrading. The Chromium development team has unveiled that support for older x86 CPUs will be going away. Specifically, CPUs that don't meet a minimum of SSE3 (Supplemental Streaming SIMD Extensions 3), will be excluded in the next update, Chrome 89.

This issue is unlikely to affect many users as most people should be on more modern hardware. This is also only a Windows issue. Mac, Android and Chrome OS all require SSE3 to run. 

The change was revealed in document made available online by the Chromium development team. There's a lot of really complicated language in the document, but essentially, to keep Chrome from crashing and freezing moving forward, processors that support SSE3 will now be mandatory.

Beyond efficiencies found with more modern CPUs, there was no larger reason given as to why older processors were being dropped. It's likely because engineers figured the number of people still using processors from between 2000-2005 is extremely limited at this point. The average lifespan of a computer processor is between 7-10 years.

Because of electronic degradation over time, it's usually best to change upgrade within that timespan. Although, there are processors that continue to last for decades. But usually those processors lose software support long before being thrown in the junk bin. 

Users with older processors will start receiving warnings that hardware support will be ending. The new Chrome 89 will not even install on older machines, and running a newer version of Chrome will likely cause a crash.

But for anyone in the market for a new machine, be sure to check out our best laptops guide. There are a few affordable options mixed in as well.

Imad Khan

Imad Khan is news editor at Tom’s Guide, helping direct the day’s breaking coverage. Prior to working at the site, Imad was a full-time freelancer, with bylines at the New York Times, the Washington Post and ESPN. Outside of work, you can find him sitting blankly in front of a Word document trying desperately to write the first pages of a new book.