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July 11, 2011 4:16 AM   Subscribe

How much pain and suffering will there be if I replace a Windows 7 machine's motherboard, CPU and video card, but leave the hard drives?

The video card on my 3-year-old machine is starting to get flaky. I don't believe replacing just the video card is worth effort on an older box.

If I were to replace everything except the hard drives, how much pain and suffering will there be? The current system is an Intel Core 2 Duo 3GHz on a motherboard with an Intel ICH9R chipset. The video is an ATI 3870 card. If I replace everything except the case and the hard drives, I would be looking at some i5 board. Bonus: the 2 hard drives are RAID using the ICH9R.

Yes, I have backups, etc., and the question is how much pain and suffering I would go through getting Windows 7 to work again without reinstallation, compared to reinstalling Windows.
posted by chengjih to Technology (10 answers total)
I should think that your only issue would be driver compatibility -- just make sure your hardware has proper drivers/support for Windows 7 and that you're getting the right driver (x86 v 64-bit) for your install.
posted by sinnesloeschen at 4:18 AM on July 11, 2011

I thought since Vista that Windows tied the license to the motherboard and system combo?
posted by efalk at 4:27 AM on July 11, 2011

Response by poster: efalk, Windows should complain about it not being able to validate the installation. I then call Microsoft and they tell me to type some stuff into the validation screen. I don't believe it will be a serious issue.
posted by chengjih at 4:38 AM on July 11, 2011

You might want to install the drivers from the new motherboard (specifically the HD ones) before the switch.
posted by pharm at 4:53 AM on July 11, 2011

Chances are you will be fine, based on experience restoring backups onto dissimilar hardware (if it does boot, wait longer than you think for the mouse and keyboard driver to load - sometimes it can take 5 minutes for the new driver frenzy to settle down enough to actually load the mouse and keyboard).

If you have a backup then you have nothing to lose by trying anyway, right?
posted by samj at 5:04 AM on July 11, 2011

chengjih: This is correct, you will have call Microsoft... if it's not the OEM version. I believe they will hassle you if it's the OEM edition. My only experience is stories around the internet.
posted by teabag at 5:11 AM on July 11, 2011

Me, I'd probably reinstall--there's going to be some pain and suffering either way, and a clean install might mean a faster machine and/or fewer problems down the road.
posted by box at 5:14 AM on July 11, 2011

I'd do a clean install. get all your data you want saved onto one HD and then switch out your hardware and reinstall the OS on your other HD. That'll be much much easier than fighting with the OS afterthefact.
posted by zombieApoc at 6:02 AM on July 11, 2011

If you're changing mobo, CPU, and video card (and RAM. You don't mention it but if you're going from C2D to Core i5 you'll probably need new DDR3 as well) you're basically getting a new computer. Now you also need to consider a new power supply. After all that you want to cop out on reinstalling a fresh OS? That's like buying a new car then installing the seats, carpet and upholstery from your old car - stains, smells, and all.

If it were me I'd either just upgrade the video card or get a whole new system. Sure you can reuse the hard disk, optical disk and case, but I'd still reinstall the OS fresh no matter what.
posted by BeerFilter at 6:22 AM on July 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

This also depends on the version of Win 7 that you are using. If you have an OEM or system builders version of Windows 7, it is tied to the motherboard and it is my understanding that you can't use it with a different motherboard, even if you call Microsoft. They used to occasionally give you a code if you called and said that your motherboard broke or something, but from what I have heard they don't do that with the OEM version anymore. If it is an upgrade or retail version, then you should be able to use the version that you have.

I'm kind of curious if it would work to just put in the new motherboard and not reinstall Windows, I would tend to think that it wouldn't work very well.
posted by jefeweiss at 10:54 AM on July 11, 2011

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