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After using your PC for a handful of years, you would want to change its motherboard. Even if the motherboard can last for 10 to 20 years. But, do you have to reinstall Windows with a new motherboard?
Well, to give you a straight answer, you mostly have to reinstall Windows if you install a new motherboard.
However, in some cases (about 20% of all cases), you won’t have to reinstall your Windows. And, there’s a simple reason behind that.
If you upgrade your motherboard from the same brand as the previous one, you won’t probably have to install Windows again. Then again, if you are buying a new motherboard from a different brand, it’s pretty much certain that you’ll have to reinstall your Windows.
Now, what you need to understand here is that there are a bunch of things that determine if you have to reinstall Windows or not.
Therefore, if you want to have a clear idea about this situation, go through this discussion till the end. So, keep reading!!
Is Windows Tied To The Motherboard?
Yes, Windows is somewhat tied to your motherboard.
How? Let us explain.
When you install Windows on your computer, it searches the internet for the drivers of every hardware component. And, in the process, your computer also finds a suitable driver for your motherboard as well.
And, when Windows is completely installed and all the drivers are fully set, Windows links itself and its license key with your motherboard. Furthermore, Windows installs drivers (for different components of your PC) that are fully compatible with your motherboard in particular.
Therefore, if you swap out your old motherboard with a new one, Windows finds the existing drivers compatible with the new motherboard. So, it is pretty safe to say here that Windows is actually tied to the motherboard (though not entirely).
Another thing that is worth mentioning here is that the license key used to activate your Windows is linked to the BIOS as well. That is another reason why, when you change your motherboard, you might have to reinstall Windows and reactivate it again (because bios are tied to the motherboard).
Do I REALLY Need To Reinstall Windows After Installing A New Motherboard?
Yes, in most cases, you will have to get your Windows operating system reinstalled after replacing your motherboard.
However, you might not have to do that if you “upgrade” your motherboard instead of replacing it.
Now, you have to pay attention here that the term “upgrade” means buying a new model of motherboard from the same manufacturer.
But, by “replace”, we mean getting a new motherboard from a different brand than your previous motherboard brand.
So, it should be clear to you that, if you opt for a different brand of motherboard, you’ll have to reinstall Windows for sure. On the other hand, if you stay on the same brand as before, you might not have to do that. Let us explain why it is so.
Here’s Why Do You Have To Reinstall Windows With A New Motherboard-
When Windows finds out that the new motherboard has been installed, it will scan every hardware and try to find compatibility of all the hardware with the motherboard.
In this case, one of two things can happen.
Installing a new motherboard from the same brand
The motherboard will easily be able to troubleshoot and readjust its drivers. It’s because a particular motherboard manufacturer uses the same digital signature in all of its models, be it newer or older ones.
Replacing with a new motherboard from a different brand
The motherboard will not be able to synchronize the hardwares to the motherboard using the existing drivers.
Therefore, it will look for new drivers on the internet to readjust the hardwares to the motherboard BIOS.
And, in doing so, it has a high probability of failing in finding compatibility between the hardware and the new motherboard.
So, how will it solve this problem?
It will give you an error message showing that Windows has malfunctioned (suggesting that you need to reinstall Windows).
Consequently, you will have to reinstall Windows. And, if you reinstall Windows anew, it will easily be able to start the setup process from a clean slate.
What Problems Will I Face When Installing Windows After Changing The Motherboard?
The most common problem that many people encounter when changing their motherboard and reinstalling Windows is that the Windows license gets lost.
But, don’t worry. It will not be permanently lost if you follow our instructions.
Here, we have explained how you can easily tackle the main problem of reinstalling your Windows after replacing your motherboard.
Namely, we have discussed how you can retain your license even after replacing your motherboard. So, in order to make sure that your license is not lost, follow the steps we have provided below:
- On your keyboard, press the Windows key and the “I” alphabet key at the same time (press Windows key + I).
- Now, head over to the subsection by the label “updates and security“.
- Then, enter into another subsection by the label “Activation“.
- In there, you’ll find an option by the label “Add a Microsoft account“. Click on it and select the option “Add an account“.
If you use the above 4 steps to add a Microsoft account to your Windows, you can link your license key to your Microsoft account instead of your computer hardware (such as your motherboard).
Now, once you have completed the above steps, even if you reinstall Windows, you won’t have to buy a new license key. All you have to do is log in to your Microsoft account in your new Windows setup, and the Windows activation will automatically be done.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will I face any data loss if I change my motherboard?
No, you won’t. It’s because all of your data is stored on your hard drive, and not on your motherboard.
However, if you have to reinstall Windows after changing your motherboard, you will lose all of your installed apps.
If I change from an Intel to AMD compatible motherboard, will I have to reinstall Windows?
Yes, absolutely. Because AMD and Intel are two different types of CPU with different types of architecture, the motherboard models that are compatible with these two CPU types are also different as well.
That’s why, if you swap out your Intel-compatible motherboard and install an AMD-compatible motherboard (or vice versa), you will most definitely have to reinstall Windows.
Will I face any hardware failure when changing the motherboard?
No, you won’t. Changing a particular PC component is a normal thing. So, if you change your motherboard, you shouldn’t face any hardware failure in the process.
However, we recommend properly following all the safety precautions in order to prevent any unforeseen accidents.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line here is that if you want to ensure that your PC hardwares are working properly, and all of your drivers are fully synced, it is best to reinstall your Windows after changing your motherboard. A clean slate installation is always the best way to go.
However, if you don’t want to go through the process of reinstallation, we recommend that you choose a motherboard model from the same motherboard manufacturer you have bought before. This way, you can hope to bypass the hassle of a complete reinstallation of Windows.
Hopefully, this article answers all your questions to whether you have to reinstall windows with a new motherboard. Ciao!