Question Upgrading CPU and motherboard without reinstalling windows

thejiang

Honorable
Jun 16, 2014
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Current specs:
CPU: i7-6700k
Motherboard: Asus Z170-K
Upgrading to
CPU: i7-9700k
Motherboard: Asus Prime Z390-A

It's a hassle to reinstall windows and all my drivers. Highly recommended to do a fresh reinstall? Or can I do it without reinstalling/reformatting windows?
 

InvalidError

Titan
Moderator
You can try your luck with board swap, just be aware that you may get random weirdness and crashes from random leftovers and end up having to re-install anyway.

On that note, I just re-installed Windows on my PC because sound started bugging out a few months ago and nothing else I tried to fix it helped. In my opinion, a fresh install every couple of years is nearly inevitable anyway. Major hardware changes are as good a time as any to eat the inconvenience hit.
 

Karadjgne

Titan
Herald
If, for instance, you moved from an Asus to msi mobo, you'd be automatically moving from Renasus Sata chipset drivers to Marvell Sata chipset drivers. Meaning you'd end up with Windows generic drivers trying to get the Sata ports working, while arguing with your registry after the Marvell chipset gives the Renasus drivers the proverbial middle finger salute.

That'll apply to the audio, Lan, USB drivers as well as others.

To say manual fixing is a royal pain in the (supply your own word) is an understatement. It's far better, faster and less hassle to just redo windows clean, and start out with a fresh registry that's not full of orphans and incorrect addressing.
 

Third-Eye

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Jun 26, 2011
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It doesn't really help your situation, but if you had a volume license version or Ultimate/Enterprise edition of Windows you could just move the installation to a new motherboard and reactivate and install new drivers.

I've been using the same installation of Windows 7 Ultimate 64bit that I installed in 2012. I've swapped motherboards 3 times and 4 OS drive changes since then. I just recently swapped my Z77 board to a Z97 and just few days ago I Swapped to a B450 which required me to find a PS/2 mouse adapter to install drivers downloaded to a hard drive through Windows 10 (dual booting both OSs.) I've had tons of problems over the years swapping parts around, but it was a learning experience, which is why I've been sticking to such an old installation of Windows.
 

Gam3r01

Titan
Moderator
It doesn't really help your situation, but if you had a volume license version or Ultimate/Enterprise edition of Windows you could just move the installation to a new motherboard and reactivate and install new drivers.

I've been using the same installation of Windows 7 Ultimate 64bit that I installed in 2012. I've swapped motherboards 3 times and 4 OS drive changes since then. I just recently swapped my Z77 board to a Z97 and just few days ago I Swapped to a B450 which required me to find a PS/2 mouse adapter to install drivers downloaded to a hard drive through Windows 10 (dual booting both OSs.) I've had tons of problems over the years swapping parts around, but it was a learning experience, which is why I've been sticking to such an old installation of Windows.
Win7 is also far more forgiving of hardware changes than win10.
 

InvalidError

Titan
Moderator
To say manual fixing is a royal pain in the (supply your own word) is an understatement. It's far better, faster and less hassle to just redo windows clean, and start out with a fresh registry that's not full of orphans and incorrect addressing.
How much trouble a system swap without re-install will ultimately be depends on how many misbehaved drivers are present. Properly written drivers will clean up after themselves when they load and can't find the hardware they are supposed to take care of. Poorly written drivers may crash the system by attempting to access hardware that does not exist.

One major step to help with a no-reinstall swap is starting in safe mode to invalidate the startup cache so Windows has to do a "long boot" (re-load drivers the normal way instead of blindly loading cached blobs) the next time it boots.
 
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Karadjgne

Titan
Herald
Properly written drivers
Heh, that's funny. I remember the headaches when Microsoft dropped CE on us. All those closed end 16/32 bit drivers conflicts, even nvidia couldn't keep up. Msi went back and added updated drivers for z77 mobo's in 2017, which hadn't been touched since 2013. Properly written drivers are rare, bug fixes common, because devs aren't ever given the time and resources to do the job as it should be done before the software/hardware is shoved out the door. If you figure every driver as being improperly written until proven otherwise, you really can't go wrong.
 
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InvalidError

Titan
Moderator
Properly written drivers are rare, bug fixes common, because devs aren't ever given the time and resources to do the job as it should be done before the software/hardware is shoved out the door.
Properly written drivers don't have to be bug-free, they only need to follow guidelines that are intended to prevent the worst bugs and PC/server-crashing behaviors. Most of the core CPU and chipset features are exactly the same from embedded to multi-socket servers, so I'm quite certain AMD, Intel and Nvidia have plenty of incentive to get their essential drivers in order.

I haven't had a driver-related crash on my PCs since something like Vista SP1 except for when I update GPU drivers without restarting my PC afterward and even that hasn't happened in over a year. I wouldn't be able to run my system for multiple months between reboots (typically three months between manual Windows updates) if drivers were anywhere near as bad as they used to be 15+ years ago.
 
Against all advice to the contrary, some folks have simply rebooted with new hardware, installed all new drivers, and gone on their merry way to a blissful computing existence...(the odds are against it happening, however, and, since freshly installing Windows to a new SSD from USB installer media tool can be done in 5 minutes these days, it is the preferred path!)
 

Karadjgne

Titan
Herald
My pc runs the same, 24/7, it's only down for cleanings, so I understand about reboots too. I'm the same, reboot with updates. Used to have to reboot at least 1x a week running 7Pro, so things do seem to have gotton more stable, but then again I'm also not adding/deleting nearly the same amount of stuff. I'm also not on top of updating gpu drivers as often as I did, there's nothing in current gpu drivers that has any affect really on a gtx970, I don't play any of the games nvidia optimizes, just older stuff that was optimized years ago and nobody even patches. Most of my reboots happen over mod conflicts in Skyrim.
 

InvalidError

Titan
Moderator
since freshly installing Windows to a new SSD from USB installer media tool can be done in 5 minutes these days, it is the preferred path!
Re-installing Windows may only take a few minutes but re-installing and re-configuring everything else after that can easily take several hours. Just re-applying Windows settings, transferring MyDocs/AppData stuff I want to carry over and other baseline stuff like that takes me a few hours. Not something I'd want to do unless absolutely necessary.

When I upgrade my i5, I'll probably give a board swap a try with a spare SSD on standby in case it does not work out.
 

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