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I'm about to upgrade my graphics card from a Radeon HD 3650 to a Radeon HD 6770.

Prior experience of upgrading graphics cards under all other versions of Windows (but not 7) has been the following:

  1. Back up contents of the hard drive.
  2. Power off computer, replace graphics card and power on computer.
  3. Watch as Windows blue screens.
  4. Reboot computer and boot in safe mode.
  5. Watch as Windows blue screens again.
  6. Swear.
  7. Re-install Windows from scratch.

This seems to be completely at odds to my Google searches which suggest that it's just a case of swapping out the cards and Windows will "magically" sort itself out.

Given that I'd rather that than my previous 7-step disasters - what things can I do to Windows 7 in order to "prepare" for receiving a replacement graphics card before I power it off?

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wow, you must have had some bad luck there –  stijn Jul 9 '12 at 12:47
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You might have bad luck, but you do have great sense of humor! haha! Just do a backup and "Brace yourself, Blue Screens are coming!" –  Rhyuk Jul 9 '12 at 12:50
    
@stijn old versions of windows tended to behave badly when GPU cards (or other low level components) were swapped out (or in win 9x even if you connected a monitor that didn't support your current resolution), although I don't ever recall safe mode failing afterward. I don't recall if gracefully defaulting to a generic vga driver was added in XP or Vista. I know vista made it much less painful/risky to swap mobos out for ones with different chipsets. –  Dan Neely Jul 9 '12 at 15:52
    
When my GTX 280 crashed, I plugged in a 128 nVidia card, then plugged in an ATI 4870 a week later without any problems at all. Windows 7 Home –  mburn7 Jul 9 '12 at 17:20

3 Answers 3

up vote 23 down vote accepted

There shouldn't be a problem upgrading from one Radeon card to another, but to be 100% sure you can uninstall the existing Radeon drivers from your system before removing the old card.

Windows will try to reinstall but just say "no" when you reboot still with old card installed.

This will downgrade your graphics to the basic VGA/SVGA drivers, but that's a good thing.

Then power off, remove the old card, install the new card and reboot.

Windows should detect the card correctly and install the correct drivers - or ask you to use the supplied installation disk.

The biggest problem with older versions of Windows was that unless you uninstalled the drivers first you were left with control panel applets on your system for the wrong graphics card which meant that the display properties control panel wouldn't work.

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+1 cause I thought of it but didnt post it. Best approach. –  Rhyuk Jul 9 '12 at 12:52
    
+1 for simplicity and for a solid approach. Apparently there are those (Synetech) would call removing the drivers a "scorched Earth policy" though... so watch out for his downvote and comment. –  Bon Gart Jul 9 '12 at 14:25
    
@BonGart - Well I do start by saying that there shouldn't be a problem... –  ChrisF Jul 9 '12 at 14:26
    
I agreed even with that. There simply shouldn't be one. However, almost every user at whatever tech level should be able to uninstall video drivers... which adds to the simplicity of the solution... since as you point out what might be causing the BSODs are the previous drivers. –  Bon Gart Jul 9 '12 at 14:29
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+1 because this is how you do it - normally you can get away with just swapping the cards, THEN dealing with the drivers, but when you're doing it right you first remove the current drivers. If you want to be extra careful download the new drivers first and place them on your desktop in easy reach, though that's probably overkill. –  Mark Allen Jul 9 '12 at 21:16

I would just do a backup, download the latest WHQL drivers for your card and swap it out. After hardware detection install latest drivers and you are done. Over time this process has gotten much better and combination of Win7 and newer drivers is pretty sturdy.

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Typically if you are using one RADEON and upgrade to ANOTHER RADEON, you don't have to do anything but power off and install the new hardware.

The AMD/ATI software has a universal Radeon driver for your chipsets which will work but most likely the AMD software will auto update to the newest / latest for you.

I haven't had any issues upgrading, and uninstalling works well when you move from AMD -> NVIDIA.

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