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Upgrading CPU/Mobo: Will Win 7 freak out?

Last response: in Windows 7
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February 10, 2012 7:35:23 PM

I'm planning on upgrading my system with a new CPU, motherboard and RAM. I'm keeping the same HDD and had not planned on doing a fresh install if I can avoid it.

1) Can I even make the swap without a reinstall? I don't know if there are settings specific to the hardware that will make Win 7 go completely wonky if I don't boot from a fresh installation.

2) Will Windows 7 try to prevent me from using it because it thinks this is a new computer using the same ID code? I'm unfamiliar with the current copy protection scheme Microsoft is using these days.


Thanks so much for any information/tips!
a b à CPUs
a b $ Windows 7
February 10, 2012 7:57:25 PM

If the motherboard, its on-board components, and the CPU are in the same family, it will likely work - you'll just have to install the board's specific drivers. If it is not, you will need to do a clean install.

This where it gets tricky:

If your W7 is OEM, the MS license says you cannot use it on a new system. OEMs can only be installed once, on the original system. If a key component failed, you may try to activate by phone. You will have to explain what happened.

If your W7 is the upgrade version and you have the original disks and product code for the qualifying OS, you can perform a clean install on the new machine and activate it.

If you have the retail W7, you can perform a clean install and activate it.

In the case of upgrade and retail licenses, you can only run that W7 product code on one machine at a time. If you install it on a new machine, you must delete it from the older machine.
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February 10, 2012 8:26:01 PM

treefrog07 said:
If the motherboard, its on-board components, and the CPU are in the same family, it will likely work - you'll just have to install the board's specific drivers. If it is not, you will need to do a clean install.

This where it gets tricky:

If your W7 is OEM, the MS license says you cannot use it on a new system. OEMs can only be installed once, on the original system. If a key component failed, you may try to activate by phone. You will have to explain what happened.

If your W7 is the upgrade version and you have the original disks and product code for the qualifying OS, you can perform a clean install on the new machine and activate it.

If you have the retail W7, you can perform a clean install and activate it.

In the case of upgrade and retail licenses, you can only run that W7 product code on one machine at a time. If you install it on a new machine, you must delete it from the older machine.


If the licence is OEM you have to phone Microsoft but its a automated service and you don't have to talk to anyone. Its literally, you give them a series of number and then they read some back that you input. No human is involved unless you mash the keys then they put you through to someone but they do exactly the same as the automated service.
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March 1, 2012 1:00:01 PM

I went ahead and swapped out the CPU, motherboard and memory (going from a P45/Quad/DDR2 to a Z68/i5/DDR3 setup) without wiping the hard drive. It booted just fine and seems to have installed all the drivers. At the very least, the system seems stable after about 24h of Prime95 and a week's worth of standard usage. :) 

After the 2nd or 3rd time I booted the system, the "You need to authenticate" message showed up in the icon tray. I asked it to authenticate and it did so without a problem. So looks like I'm all set, at least until I replace the HDD (it's a 1.5 GB/s SATA, so is now the weakest link for my system).

As an aside, should I still consider a hard drive wipe and install, just to make sure there isn't loose baggage floating around in there? I used to do a fresh wipe every year, but have gotten out of the habit these last few years.
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a b à CPUs
a b $ Windows 7
March 1, 2012 3:14:56 PM

I'm glad it worked for you; it does not always work as smoothly as did yours.

Clean Install? It's your choice to periodically do a clean install, only you know how much software and hardware you've put on the system and then removed. I have a machine I use only to test various software, so I do a periodic clean install when the system gets slow, or starts getting BSODs from incomplete uninstalls of software and drivers.
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