Upgrade Motherboard And CPU without Reinstalling Windows 10/8/7

Posted by @Cody

July 21, 2017

Learn two ways to upgrade motherboard and CPU without reinstalling Windows 10/8/7 due to motherboard failure or compatibility issue.

Can you upgrade motherboard and CPU without a fresh install?

Upgrading computer hardware is exciting, but there might be issues if you want to keep the Windows installation. To complete a fresh install will not take much time, but you will have to reinstall all the installed programs, transfer data, and configure system settings, not to mentions some of the programs needs activating.

Therefore, like most of the people, you probably want to upgrade hardware without reinstalling Windows 10/8/7. For upgrading minor parts, you can simply uninstall the corresponding old drivers and install the new ones after the replacement.

For replacing major hardware like Motherboard and CPU, Windows 8/7 or old system Windows XP will most likely fail to boot. Because Windows has included most of common drivers, Windows 10 will boot successfully without extra efforts after replacing hardware.

In order to upgrade motherboard and CPU without reinstalling Windows, there is a small trick to prepare your system for hardware upgrade. Once you do it right, you can boot your Windows system after changing motherboard.

Will Windows 10/8/7 be activated after replacing motherboard?

Different types of Windows license key

There are three types of Windows license key, OEM, Retail, and Volume. If your license is retail or volume, then Windows will automatically get activated when connecting to the internet. However, OEM key is locked to the original hardware.

You need to activate Windows by phone. It might take a few minutes for sending numbers back and forth.

How to tell if Windows 10/8/7 is OEM or Retail?

Right-click on My Computer (This PC in Windows 10) and select Properties. Scroll down to the bottom of the screen and check the Product ID. If you see OEM in the second group, then it is an OEM license key. Otherwise, it is retail or volume.

OEM License

If your computer is pre-installed with Windows 10/8/7, usually it is OEM key. If you bought your license from Microsoft, it is a retail key. Volume keys are purchased by large companies or organizations.

A proper way to change motherboard without reinstalling Windows

Before you replace the motherboard or CPU, you should make a few changes in Registry. As you may know, modifying Registry improperly may result in serious issue, so you better create a full system image backup before hand.

You can follow the steps below to modify Registry:

1. Press “Windows” + “R” keys to open the Run dialog box, type “regedit” and then press Enter.

Open Registry 

2. Within Registry Editor, navigate to the following key:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\services\msahci

3. At the right pane, double click 'Start' and change its value from whatever to “0”.

Registry Editor

4. Also, change the following Key's DWORD value data to 0:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\services\pciide

6. Save the changes and exit Registry editor.

7. Shut down the computer and replace the hardware. Then you should be able to boot Windows successfully.

This method will also work when you want to move hard drive to a new computer without reinstalling Windows.

A simple way that works all the time

If the above method fails to work or you think it is too risky, you can perform a universal restore after you upgrade motherboard and CPU. Universal Restore is a feature of backup software AOMEI Backupper that allows you to restore Windows system to another computer with dissimilar hardware.

It does not require you to change any settings. You just need to create a backup of the original system and restore it after CUP and motherboard replacement. It works like Windows bare metal recovery. The difference is that AOMEI Universal Restore is more convenient without restrictions.

To perform a system backup for universal restore:

1. Download and run AOMEI Backupper Standard.

2. Click system backup under Backup tab. It will automatically select needed items as the backup source.

Backup Windows

3. Click "Step2" to specify a folder or drive as the backup destination. You can backup to external hard drive or the original hard drive.

Select Backup Target

4.click Start Backup to start the system backup.

5. When it completes, click Utilities and select Create Bootable Media and follow the wizard to create a bootable USB drive or CD/DVD.

After that, you can upgrade your motherboard and CPU.

Perform Universal Restore

1.  Press DEL or F2 repeatedly at computer startup to change boot order and set the bootable disk you created as the first boot option.

2.  Then it will load the main interface of AOMEI Backupper. Click Restore and select the backup created before.

3.  Before starting the restore, make sure the option “Universal Restore” is checked.

Universal Restore

This method can also be used to transfer Windows to another desktop or laptop with dissimilar hardware.

Both methods can help you upgrade motherboard and CPU without reinstalling Windows. Which way do you prefer? Or you have some other experience with changing computer hardware without a clean install, leave a comment down below.