Replacing motherboard, must I reinstall Win 7??

TechGeezer used Ask the Experts™
I have a motherboard that has gone bad. I am replacing it with the same brand (Gigabyte) but a different model number.

Can I just change it out for the new one and run the new drivers from the new MB disk? Or must I reinstall win 7 & let it detect the new MB?

Also what problems may I have as far as re-activating Win 7 with the new MB.
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Top Expert 2007
This usually depends on the chipset of the motherboard. If they are the same chipset there is a possibility it will work. I would try and backup any data on the hard drive before attempting this as it may go south regardless of the similarity of chipset.

As far as re-activating, if this computer is a brand name OEM like Dell HP or such, you may have issues. You would need an OEM motherboard replacement in that case.
If you are using a retail version of Win7 there shouldn't be an issue, but there have been the odd time when it won't reactivate but you can usually get in touch with MS and explain the situation as a replacement of the motherboard due to it dying and they should be compliant.
If it is from the same company I beleive it will work.
As far as the windows 7 activation you will probably need to call to activate. I find if you just tell them that you replaced you hard drive it works better. They are used to people changing their hard drives.
Top Expert 2007

sparkmaker is probably closer to the truth.

Backup - and try the swap. make sure that you have the motherboard drivers handy, and hope for the best.
I hope this helps !
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Gary CaseRetired
Most Valuable Expert 2013
Top Expert 2009

As sparkmaker noted above, if the new board uses the same chipset you can almost certainly just boot and all will be fine -- you may not even need to update drivers, depending on the audio and network chips used on the board.

As for activation -- a new motherboard by itself isn't enough change to require re-activation.    With a changed network adapter (the most significant changed component), there can be a total of 4 changes without require a re-activation.    In your case, the network adapter and the IDE adapter are the only hardware components that will be different as a result of the motherboard swap -- the other components of the activation has (display adapter, RAM, Processor, hard drive, and optical drive) will all be the same ... so activation will not be required.

The only issue would be if, as noted above, this is an OEM system that uses a BIOS-locked OS rather than a hash-based activation.    In that case, it doesn't matter how much changes -- it only matters that the BIOS contains the appropriate OEM code ... in which case activation will fail if you aren't using a replacement board from the same OEM [e.g. HP, Dell, Sony, etc.].      From your description of the problem, this does not appear to be the case here.
Top Expert 2013

i have replaced some boards, and the driver updates went automatic, after booting up, but not with OEM ones
As others have already suggested, it "may" work. I would however run the file and settings transfer wizard with the old setup, AND do a backup before attempting the swap. Once the swap is complete and all your programs are installed, run the file and transfer wizard again to move all the files and settings back. If all goes well, you'll only have to remember your passwords for some programs. If it doesn't transfer everything correctly, you can then replace what's missing from the backup.

I never count on a swap with different hardware (even with the same chipset) to work. Other components come into play besides the chipset. Although I've had the higher success rate with a board with the same chipset. But, once again, backup first.


I changed out the MB, It booted up without any other adjustments, except it needed audio, video, & Lan drivers from the new MB disk. Then everything worked properally. However I checked the activation status of win 7 & found that I had to re activate it . That went OK and all is well and working like new!

Thanks to all

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