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Changing motherboard without reinstalling windows ?

Last response: in Windows 7
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June 22, 2012 1:31:58 AM

I'm changing my motherboard and would really avoid to reinstall windows. Is it possible without causing too much instability ?

CPU, RAM, video card and all other hardware will stay the same.
June 22, 2012 1:43:20 AM

It is my understanding that as long as the architecture of the CPU and I/O stream, the motherboard chipset, are the same then you should not have any problems. However, if Windows cannot communicate with peripherals in the same manner it was set up with that is where you will experience problems. Windows 7 is pretty good at detecting new hardware and being able to utilize it. I would say, back up your data, try it, and if it doesn't work you can transfer your data back over.

Hope that helped somewhat.
June 22, 2012 1:47:48 AM

Windows Back-up is your friend, a fresh install is always best when doing major hardware changes
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a b $ Windows 7
June 22, 2012 1:48:27 AM

hard to say. most of the hardware may be the same but the drivers will be different for every component on the mobo like the USB bus,PCI,PCIe slot's etc. best bet would be to see if is able to pick up your optical drive and try to install the drivers from the CD the mobo comes with. it may cause performance issues too but its hard to tell. oh and it may deactivate windows
a b V Motherboard
a b $ Windows 7
June 22, 2012 2:21:11 AM

the oem microsoft license agreement says:

“An upgrade of the motherboard is considered to result in a “new personal computer” to which Microsoft® OEM operating system software cannot be transferred from another computer. If the motherboard is upgraded or replaced for reasons other than a defect, then a new computer has been created and the license of new operating system software is required.”

if you have your own upgrade or full retail version of windows then do a new install after you've installed the motherboard.
June 22, 2012 2:48:05 AM

nhasian said:
the oem microsoft license agreement says:

“An upgrade of the motherboard is considered to result in a “new personal computer” to which Microsoft® OEM operating system software cannot be transferred from another computer. If the motherboard is upgraded or replaced for reasons other than a defect, then a new computer has been created and the license of new operating system software is required.”

if you have your own upgrade or full retail version of windows then do a new install after you've installed the motherboard.

This may be a dumb question but I want to make sure I am reading this correctly; I've built a computer a few years back and I want to upgrade the hardware, part of which is the motherboard, processor and RAM are also upgraded, that constitutes a new computer according to Microsoft, does that mean that I must repurchase a version of Windows or is my previously purchased version able to be transferred to this new computer even though the previous license is no longer in use? Also, does this imply that if a motherboard is sold, the Windows license should follow it?
June 22, 2012 2:53:59 AM

I've upgraded MB, Memory,CPU and GPU all at the same time using the same w7 drive with no problem and if it ask for activation it did it over the internet or over the phone with no questions ask. As long as your keeping the machine and the OS there's no problem. I haven't had to reinstall the OS either, just make sure it's up to date.
June 22, 2012 2:56:59 AM

I am moving from an AMD DDR2 system to Intel DDR3 system, I know I will have to reinstall. I was just curious if legally I am expected to buy a new copy of Windows.
a b U Graphics card
a b V Motherboard
a b $ Windows 7
June 22, 2012 3:03:04 AM

ungovernable said:
I'm changing my motherboard and would really avoid to reinstall windows. Is it possible without causing too much instability ?

CPU, RAM, video card and all other hardware will stay the same.


Depends on a few things --

1.) What type of license do you currently have and what is the reason for the change -- This is most important because if it is an OEM version and you are just upgrading the licens dies with the old MOBO so you'll need to buy a new OS. (If the old MOBO died and you are replacing for that reason the license should be able to be reactivated.)

2.) Are you changing to a different make and model of MOBO or will it be the same model from the same company ? (chances of it working decreases with each component that changes.)

3.) IS the system currently working or is the MOBO dead ? If it is functioning you can make a backup image and reinstall from scratch instead of attempting to swap MOBOs and drivers.

That said in most cases YES this can be done (It used to be much less of an option but with win7 they have gotten pretty good about updating on the fly and having it remain working. What you will want to do is prior to changing the MOBO if it is currently running - go into Device manager and remove all of the drivers for parts that will be changing (ie. MOBO chipset, Lan, etc.) then shut down and swap out the MOBO - then on first reboot start with the windows installation disc in the system and boot from it - Select the Repair installation (not Repair console but system repair) - this will force windows to reinspect the system and install the proper drivers for the various new components and will normally get it working. (After it finishes and boots go into device manager and ensure that nothing was missed or improperly installed (ie. look for yellow ! marks that indicate problems and reinstall any drivers that did not get installed properly.)

Once that is all finished you will need to reactivate the install (if online activation fails call MS and explain the situation and reason for the change and in most cases they will help get it activated)



a b U Graphics card
a b V Motherboard
a b $ Windows 7
June 22, 2012 3:06:15 AM

noreaster said:
I am moving from an AMD DDR2 system to Intel DDR3 system, I know I will have to reinstall. I was just curious if legally I am expected to buy a new copy of Windows.


Depends on the version you purchased !!

OEM license dies with the initial MOBO it was installed on unless it died and had to be replaced in which case you must use an identical MOBO if available

Retail version can be moved to any new system as long as the old install is no longer used. (this is why they charge more for the retail version !!)
June 22, 2012 3:09:21 AM

JDFan said:
Depends on the version you purchased !!

OEM license dies with the initial MOBO it was installed on unless it died and had to be replaced in which case you must use an identical MOBO if available

Retail version can be moved to any new system as long as the old install is no longer used. (this is why they charge more for the retail version !!)

Alright, I think that is somewhat of a pain, although if they didn't enforce that policy pirating Windows would be as easy as saying you just upgraded. Thanks for the answer to my tangential question :) 
a b U Graphics card
a b V Motherboard
a b $ Windows 7
June 22, 2012 3:26:52 AM

noreaster said:
Alright, I think that is somewhat of a pain, although if they didn't enforce that policy pirating Windows would be as easy as saying you just upgraded. Thanks for the answer to my tangential question :) 


That said -- I have in the past upgraded using an OEM version and been able to reactivate it fine - sometimes the online or phone activation works fine other times it requires calling and talking to a service rep in which case, it just depends on who you get on the phone when attempting the process and what kind of mood they are in (figure MS is pretty lenient on giving new activations since they are not really losing much) since you already purchased the OS legitimately instead of Pirating it and they do realize that components die requiring replacement and in most cases would rather err by giving a new activation code than deny it and have a legitimate purchaser turn to other methods of getting it working.
June 24, 2013 3:57:05 AM

baddad said:
I've upgraded MB, Memory,CPU and GPU all at the same time using the same w7 drive with no problem and if it ask for activation it did it over the internet or over the phone with no questions ask. As long as your keeping the machine and the OS there's no problem. I haven't had to reinstall the OS either, just make sure it's up to date.


Sorry for posting in a old post. Since this thread hasn't been closed i would like to ask what exactly did you do when you call them. What would they ask you? I don't have my windows activation key so idk what other proof of purchase are there.

August 26, 2013 10:00:50 AM

JDFan said:
noreaster said:
Depends on the version you purchased !!

OEM license dies with the initial MOBO it was installed on unless it died and had to be replaced in which case you must use an identical MOBO if available

Retail version can be moved to any new system as long as the old install is no longer used. (this is why they charge more for the retail version !!)




Hmmm, in my situation, my motherboard is dead and you cannot get an identical replacement. My OS is OEM. I want to stay legal. Am I ok or do I need to try to contact Microsoft?
a b U Graphics card
a b V Motherboard
a b $ Windows 7
August 26, 2013 10:19:48 AM

duffdry said:
JDFan said:
noreaster said:
Depends on the version you purchased !!

OEM license dies with the initial MOBO it was installed on unless it died and had to be replaced in which case you must use an identical MOBO if available

Retail version can be moved to any new system as long as the old install is no longer used. (this is why they charge more for the retail version !!)




Hmmm, in my situation, my motherboard is dead and you cannot get an identical replacement. My OS is OEM. I want to stay legal. Am I ok or do I need to try to contact Microsoft?


Should be fine -- THe OEM license does have an exception for replacement of defective outdated MOBOs that allows reactivation - It might just auto activate when you install but it might also fail to reactivate and require using the phone activation at which point it will ask a few questions and you respond at which point it will either reactivate or connect you with a rep that you can explain the situation to and they will usually provide a new activation response code as long as the old MOBO died and was replaced and you verify that the software is only being used on one system.

October 3, 2013 9:31:33 PM

Old threads still popping up at the top of search results are still relevant. So...

I was looking if anyone has found a better procedure than deleting everything in device manager, but so for no. I am curious about running the Win7 repair on the old hardware, then swap to new hardware during the reboot, but I have a feeling that it won't work. While Acronis Server edition does have universal restore, so do many less expensive options these days, including the home version for $50.

Legally, you can only activate on a motherboard replaced due to failure of the original, as previously stated for OEM licenses which most people have. I buy the retail license for just that reason, as the OS easily outlasts my hardware which I update annually. That said, it has been my experience that OEM licenses will reactivate with just the click of the button about once per year, without needing to make that phone call. Retail has about 5 activations. I don't know how many volume licensing has precisely, but the action pack needs to be phoned in every single time once it has been activated the number of times as you have licenses.

The first thing you need is the correct software. Your Key only works with the software it was included with, as in OEM, Retail, or VLC. You cannot always just use somebody else's disk. Phone support will not make an exception, use the right disk in the first place. And last, you are only using this on one computer. It doesn't matter if it is a volume license, their script requires that the answer be one, any other answer will fail. Doesn't really matter if it is true and legitimate or not, the answer is still 1.
January 10, 2014 1:42:08 PM

Old thread-new answer--- get both your PID and your cd key ---PID is in the Control Panel / System and Security / System and CD key can be gotten with (free) Magical Jellybean Keyfinder. PID just in case---CD key is always a necessity.
February 13, 2014 7:39:03 AM

I had a self built system with Win7 and It worked fine as it was but since I originally cheaped out on the CPU I wanted to upgrade to the now more affordable CPU I had intended on all along.
Big mistake! I never figured out what went wrong (I suspect something in the MOBO) but the new setup would not start to Windows. After months of trouble shooting and being a relative computer novice I abandoned my first homebuilt computer.
I appropriated a basic Compac Presario running Win XP from my sister and used it for a while but the idea of being stuck with XP on a crappy computer when I had been used to my custom W7 build made me crazy so I transplanted the HD with W7 from my computer into my sisters as a secondary drive and it booted up to W7 the first try. No questions asked, no problems.
Im still using it but recently I updated the driver for the built in graphics and had to use a vista driver since no 7 driver was available and the display blinks out ocassionally. and since I cant upgrade the graphics to anything worth the effort I plan on replacing the MOBO, CPU, and Memory.
Im hoping I can just plug in the pre installed W7 hard drive and go, like I did before but worry that since Im piecing this one together from scratch it may be a different story altogether. I will soon find out!
Any comments or suggestions are welcomed.
!