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I'm going to be upgrading my motherboard, CPU and memory very soon. Everything else about the computer is staying the same, but I'll be changing from a core 2 duo CPU to an i5 2600K, plus changing to a totally different motherboard, etc.

I don't want to have to reinstall Windows 7 when I do it - what do I need to do to make sure the install goes smoothly? Should I uninstall old drivers, etc, before I swap out the parts?

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I have tried, but in vain :(. –  user Jun 18 '11 at 12:42

7 Answers 7

I'm not sure how old this question is, but if you want to move your hard drive (with win 7 on it) to a new machine, or want to install a new mobo with out re-installing windows 7 again you can easily do it by using. Sysprep. This is a new tool from Win 7.

From the website " The System Preparation Tool (sysprep) is a Windows 7 utility that can be launched from the The System Preparation Tool (sysprep) is a Windows 7 utility that can be launched from the command line and used to configure Windows, readying it for a change of host hardware. This command line and used to configure Windows, readying it for a change of host hardware. This can be used for running Windows on a new motherboard or even transferring the hard disk can be used for running Windows on a new motherboard or even transferring the hard disk drive into a completely new environment."

here is where I found it


good luck Sully aka Dirty ol Dog

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Use your windows 7 disk and do an upgrade install, then after it tries to restart, turn it off. Change all hardware you want to change (ie mobo cpu ram vid card whatever) then boot into that drive and continue setup. You will need to re activate windows...

I did it, went from am3 880gx mobo/cpu to 4770k z87 no problems

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Windows will almost certainly install drivers for the new hardware automatically with no trouble, making the change easy. You will need to remember that substantial hardware changes will result in Windows deactivating (to prevent someone copying the disk image to many different machines). The rules by which a significant hardware change are detected are somewhat complicated but known, see here.

On never versions of Windows activation after a significant hardware change works just like activation of a new install - it will automatically attempt to activate over the internet. Internet activation will fail if the license has previously been activated too frequently*. If this happens, you will need to call the 1-800 number that Windows will give you and speak with an activation rep, who will manually give you an activation code, generally without any questions asked.

(*) for Windows XP this was more than once in the last 120 days. I believe this has changed in Vista/7, I do not know what the new rule is.

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There's one important thing not covered so far.


WGA/WAT is going to complain if you change too much hardware. Nobody knows what the threshold is, but if you cross it, Microsoft support has been known to be fairly lenient in manually allowing you to re-activate regardless.

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While you are correct that he will probably have to activate, there is no question of Microsoft giving him problems. The worst case is that it will not activate over the Internet, he calls, and tells them that he put in a new mother board and other parts, and they will give him a code to manually enter to activate. This is at worst a minor inconvenience, but guaranteed to work provided he is not trying to activate a known-pirated copy. –  KCotreau Jun 18 '11 at 2:21

Windows may boot with the new board out of the box, but it is possible that you will have to massage it go get it to work. If it does work, you should still update all your drivers from the motherboard's web site. If it doesn't the easiest way to do it is re-install and pick "upgrade": This will keep all your programs intact, but replace the hardware drivers and any other faulty registry settings. Even after the upgrade, update your drivers.

If you try to upgrade to your same OS, but are not given the option (grayed out), it is likely because your original disk is older than your current service pack level. In that case, you will need to slip-stream your original OS disk to add your service pack level or newer. You can search how to slip-stream here as it comes up often.

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As long as the HDD housing Windows is left untouched you should be fine.

Bring in all your new parts and hook them all up. Windows 7 should automatically detect some new hardware and find/install the drivers for you. If not, go to the vendor's website and look for the downloads page. They usually have the drivers there.

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Acronis Universal Restore should be able to do it.

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