General questions - OEM vs Retail?


Mar 14, 2009
So in building a new system, I'm finding that a lot of stuff on Newegg is OEM. When is it advantageous to go OEM (besides the obvious, price) and when retail?

It seems to me that some of the most common items with this option include the OS, HDD, optical drive, etc.

1) So for the OS, I understand it is for the one machine and the one machine only. So what if I want to upgrade the HDD to a SSD later? Can I still do a reinstall or do I just transfer the whole drive over? Or can I do neither?

2) Hard drives - not sure what the benefit of a retail kit would be? I'm a novice builder and I have tons of screws and cables sitting around, so not having them with the OEM not really important. Is it warranty?

3) Optical drives - Seems almost all retail versions (except Plextor) come with Nero. I'm not a fan of Nero, so I'd probably end up getting a full version of something else anyway. But one thing I was wondering about was LightScibe? Wouldn't that software come with the Retail? So what do you use for Lightscribe for the OEM drive?
Oem often has much shorter warranty . Intel oem cpu's have a 30 day warranty versus a couple of years for a retail item . and no heat sink either

I have an oem version of XP , that has been migrated to various computers over the last few years . MS always activated it .
But I think Vista is smarter and will stop you in your tracks . Check with MS .

For lightscribe check the manufacturers website to see if they have a free download


Oct 8, 2007
I have Vista Ultimate 64 bit OEM and have swapped hard drives several times with no problems but it will see the change and ask you to insert the OS Disc to confirm. The Vista OS OEM is more tied to the motherboard but I have swapped boards 5 times and was able to get it activated with a phone call to MS explaining that my MB went bad.