I have an older spec computer running in my lab that I want to replace with my current home pc. Normally, I would just wipe the hard drive and start with a fresh install, but my current work computer has a large number of programs on it like ArcGIS and Matlab that would require me to wait for my less-then-competent IT department to install/key for me.
If I simply install drivers for my new motherboard/graphics/etc now, would I be able to swap hard drives and have it boot without having to do a fresh install? I could always do a system repair if need be but have not had much success with that method in the past with older windows versions.
Celeron 450 w/ integrated graphics
core i5 on P55 motherboard
discrete graphics, likely a older 8800gts if not a gtx460
The most likely approach requires that you have the Windows install disks, unless you are running Win7.
First, make a complete disk backup of the drive. Test the backup. If this process trashes your drive, then you will not be totally dead.
Install the drive in your own machine, as the only drive connected. Boot to the Windows installation drive or, if this is Win7, boot and interrupt with F8. Choose a Repair installation. This is your best chance of having drivers and settings corrected.
The second-best chance is to do a backup with a tool like EASEUS ToDo backup that has a "restore to dissimilar hardware" feature, and then restore to a blank drive in the target machine with that option set. The tool will attempt to do the same kind of driver fix.