Change motherboard without reinstalling Windows (keys to keep in mind)

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Change motherboard without reinstalling Windows (keys to keep in mind)

Surely we all love it when it comes time to update the hardware of our computer, and then a question arises: can I change the motherboard without reinstalling Windows ? And the answer to this will always be yes, it is possible , but we must take a few things into account that many of us may have overlooked at some time.

So we have proposed to make this article to refresh the ideas of each one and thus know what the consequences of updating an element as important as our motherboard will be. Especially when it comes to equipment that has been purchased already assembled.

Can I change the motherboard without reinstalling Windows 10?

As I have already indicated before in the introduction, yes it is possible, in fact, it will be the most normal . And the answer to this is very simple: all the devices of our computer are connected to the motherboard, including the hard drive, which will be where the operating system will be installed.

This means that we can easily disconnect all these components, remove the board and install the new one. Later we will reconnect our hard drive and so on, and the update will be complete, although of course, sometimes it will not be as simple as this.

Yes, but it will depend on the operating system

At this point, we must be aware of what operating system we have installed on our computer. It is not the same to have a Windows system , a Linux , much less a Mac , and it will also be important to know what version of the system we have .

In the case of Mac , it will be simple, better to leave everything as it is , no user of this platform will think of changing their basic hardware, after spending a fortune on the equipment. And the truth is that we do not have extensive knowledge about this system either.

In the case of Linux, it will be easier, especially in its newer versions of desktop-based systems, since in its repositories they have the necessary drivers , in most cases to detect and install connected devices without problems . We talk about CPU, RAM memory, sound card or the characteristics of our motherboard.

This is extensible to Windows systems , although beware, from Windows Vista onwards. Microsoft provided this same capability to its next-generation operating systems after Windows XP. Especially Windows 10,

which is the one that practically all of us use today. Updating the motherboard will not cause any problem for this operating system in terms of detecting elements such as the network card or the sound card. In its repositories, the system will search for a generic driver to reinstall it and that everything works fine. It is not 100% effective, and sometimes installing a device must be done manually.

But of course, many of you may have thought: I have Windows installed with its original licence key, what will happen now that I change my hardware? and precisely this is the reason for doing this article , let’s see what can happen.

Activated Windows: licence types and differences

On Windows systems, there are three types of licences as methods of legally activating the product: OEM, Retail, and Volume licences .

Case of Retail or Volume licence : 

This type of licence is acquired by the user himself , by purchasing a key online or the one available on the program installation CD. This means that we can enter it as many times as we want in our system to have it activated again, as long as we identify ourselves as the legitimate user of that key.

Case of OEM licence : 

As you can imagine, this type of licence is supplied directly by the manufacturer of the equipment, which means that they are associated with a certain hardware and a certain equipment. In simple terms, it is a key that is saved in the BIOS of the motherboard, so if we change this, in principle we will lose the key . And we say, only in principle.

Know what type of key we have

With the previous description we can already imagine more or less what key we have, but it will be interesting for users who have doubts to know how to differentiate between one and the other .

We are going to enter the Windows properties , so we will go to “ My Computer ” and by right-clicking on the icon we will choose “ Properties ”. If we are lazier than all this, we will press the key combination “ Windows + Pause/Break ”

We already have the window open, now we will go to the end and we will see the “ Windows Activation ” section. If the ID The product we see is made up only of numbers and letters, it is a Retail or Volume key . But if we see in the second term the distinctive “OEM” then it is a manufacturer key , of the dodgy ones. Do not worry, there is a way to solve this so as not to lose our password in any case.

By the way, if you do not have Windows activated, then you can proceed to update motherboard

Change motherboard without reinstalling Windows if it is not activated

Change motherboard without reinstalling Windows if it is not activated

Well, if we have Windows 10 in its latest version and updated, the truth is that we will not have much to do. Just install our new motherboard and hardware and reboot as normal .

At this point, we will possibly see how Windows 10 does not start instantly, but instead a black screen will appear notifying us that Windows is installing the new components. This means that the system has detected the new hardware, and is installing the drivers for this new motherboard, just as if we were in a fresh installation of Windows, although the system will not have deleted anything at all .

At this point, we must comment on two recommendations that we could carry out:

Uninstall previous drivers

If we are aware of what is going to change when we install the new motherboard, it will be interesting to go to the list of installed programs and delete the ones we no longer need . For example, the sound card driver, the network card driver, the chipset driver if we have it, and possible motherboard programs that manufacturers give us as extras such as AIsuite, Dragon Center, etc.

If we need to change the AHCI mode (previous versions of Windows)

This can be useful when upgrading a computer that is running in IDE mode to one that is running in AHCI mode , which is the one that uses the SATA interface. In Windows 10 we will not have to do this.

We open the registry editor by typing “ regedit ” on the run tool, previously opened with “ Windows + R ”.

Now we look for the following registry key:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\services\msahci

Inside, we are going to right-click the “Start” subkey and change its value to “0”

Now we’ll go to

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\services\pciide

And we will do the same with the “Start” subkey, changing it to “0”.

We can now close Windows, install our new motherboard, and start the system again . We should not have any problem detecting new components or detecting drives under the AHCI protocol

Make sure the Windows disk boots properly

As always, the hard drive that has the operating system installed will be the one with the bootloader installed on it. What we will have to do so that the motherboard has no doubts that it is that hard drive, is to uninstall removable storage devices and other data hard drives that we have .

This way the UEFI BIOS will automatically detect the only available hard drive and normally start the operating system. It is possible that we get an inaccessible boot device or similar error, so take a look at these tutorials :

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