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I'm planning an upgrade to my computer, in particular - motherboard, CPU and memory. I've heard that Windows 7 may require reinstall in this case - is this true? Is there a way to avoid reinstallation?

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3 Answers

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Just try and see. You have a good chance of this working with no ill-effects.

However, even if you luck out and do not require a reinstall, you will surely need to re-active Windows 7 : It can stomach a change to the CPU and/or RAM, but not to the motherboard.

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In the end, I didn't have to reinstall Windows, only had to re-activate it. –  Fixpoint Oct 15 '10 at 7:47
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Some thoughts and tips.

New motherboard with old windows 7 install

http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/2445-63-motherboard-windows-install

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Generally Windows will handle most hardware changes, but:

  1. The drivers for the old hardware will still be in place. These could continue to use resources and run (e.g. software defects leading to BSOD—I doubt most drivers are tested when their hardware is not present).

  2. If the new hardware needs a driver to start up (e.g. starting from a RAID array which needs a driver) then you might have a chicken and egg situation unless you add the driver before the hardware change (this can be hard to spot).

I would generally prefer a reinstall (Windows doesn't take long to install, especially if using a USB pendrive, its the applications that are the problem) but might live with the transferred setup until I have time to do a proper job.

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Windows 7 is much better about this than Windows XP ever was, for the record. If all you're changing is the motherboard (processor and memory are irrelevant insofar as a driver problem) you might very well luck out, ESPECIALLY if the machine was running in IDE mode. –  Shinrai Oct 14 '10 at 14:20
    
@Shinrai: an motherboard RAID controller could be a problem (this what the specific example I was thinking of). –  Richard Oct 15 '10 at 7:15
    
Yeah, if you're running in RAID this is a Bad Idea™. –  Shinrai Oct 15 '10 at 14:32
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