From time to time, you will want to update your system’s hardware. Most often, the hard drive is upgraded to an SSD or a shiny new graphics processing unit (GPU). However, sometimes you may need to replace your motherboard – the part of your computer that helps other parts communicate.
Upgrading your motherboard is not that difficult. But activating Windows 10 and getting it to work fine with your new motherboard is another matter entirely. Here’s how to replace your motherboard without reinstalling Windows 10.
Can you replace the motherboard on Windows 10?
The problem with replacing the motherboard while using Windows 10 is related to Microsoft licensing. Or rather, a misunderstanding of how Windows 10 licenses work when you want to make a major upgrade.
There are three main types of Windows 10 licenses:
- OEM: OEM licenses are preinstalled on the hardware you purchase and are associated with the device’s motherboard.
- Retail: You purchase a retail license online and can transfer the license between different computers.
- Scope: Microsoft issues bulk volume licenses to large organizations such as businesses, universities, or government agencies, and allows one license key to be activated. multiple installations
Each Windows license is associated with the hardware on which it was first installed, specifically the motherboard. Only retail license can be transferred between motherboards. If you try to replace the motherboard on a Windows 10 PC using OEM or volume licensing, chances are high that a fresh installation will not activate Windows 10.
However, there are several examples of activating Windows 10 OEM and volume licenses on new hardware, including the motherboard. For more information, learn how to transfer your Windows 10 license to a new computer.
How to check your Windows 10 license type
Before attempting to replace your motherboard, check the type of Windows 10 license installed on your system.
Type Command Prompt in the Start Menu Search Bar and open Best Match. Now enter the following command:
Wait a moment until the Windows Script Host window appears. Next to the description, you will see the Windows 10 license type. It will clearly indicate whether your license type is retail, OEM, or corporate.
If you have a retail license, you can easily migrate your Windows 10 installation to a new motherboard.
How to replace a motherboard without reinstalling Windows 10
When you turn off the motherboard, you can leave the hard drive or solid-state drive with Windows 10 installed. After replacing the motherboard, you reconnect the Windows 10 drive. If everything is okay, Windows 10 will reconfigure itself and you can continue using the operating system.
As you might expect, it doesn’t always work out that way! For the most part, you will run into problems with activating your Windows 10 license. The best way to ensure that your new motherboard does not require a new installation is to link your Windows license and Microsoft account before making the change.
Press Windows Key + I, then go to Updates & Security> Activation. In the “Add Microsoft Account” section, select “Add Account”. After that, you will need to sign in to your Microsoft account. After the sign-in process completes, Microsoft will link your Windows 10 license and your Microsoft account.
Account linking allows you to log back into Windows 10 after installing a new motherboard without interfering with product codes or otherwise. Note, however, that only retail licenses are transferred this way. However, there are many examples of OEM or Volume Licensing activation, so it’s worth a try.
Windows 10 Licensing Troubleshooter
Windows 10 includes a license troubleshooter that you can use to try and fix any post-motherboard issues. The troubleshooter should detect that you’ve recently installed new hardware.
After installing your new motherboard, press Windows Key + I, then go to Updates & Security> Activation, where you can find the message “Windows is not activated.” If you still see the message, go to the bottom of the page and select “Troubleshoot.”
Now select I recently changed hardware on this device. Next, sign in to your Microsoft account and specify the device you are using. Microsoft’s activation process will come to life and in a couple of seconds it should activate Windows 10 with your new motherboard.
Activation with a Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 product key
When Windows 10 was announced, Microsoft confirmed that existing Windows 7 and Windows 8 / 8.1 license holders would receive a free upgrade to Windows 10. During the upgrade, licenses for older versions of Windows were converted to digital licenses for the new operating system. P>
As a result of the digitization of licenses and product keys, many Windows users are left without a special product key for their new operating system – just the information in the settings panel that you have a digital license.
If Windows 10 won’t activate after installing a new motherboard and you’ve upgraded to Windows 10 through Windows 7 or 8 / 8.1, you can try to activate Windows 10 on a new hardware combination using your old product key.
Press Windows Key + I, then go to Updates & Security> Activation. Under Update Product Key, select Change Product Key. Enter the product key associated with your Windows 7 or Windows 8 / 8.1 license and click Next. Windows 10 should activate.
Can’t find your old product key? Here are some places where you can find it!
You don’t have to reinstall Windows 10!
You don’t need to reinstall Windows 10 after updating your motherboard if you take a few steps before switching. The tricky part is getting Windows 10 and your new motherboard to work fine after the update is complete.
Windows 10 Retail licensees should have no problem. The retail license is a product designed for multiple installations without problems.
Windows 10 OEM and volume license holders can try to upgrade their motherboard without reinstalling Windows. Sometimes it definitely works, but not always. Try to remember starting Windows 10. Have you upgraded from Windows 7 or Windows 8 / 8.1 to Windows 10? If so, try using a product key from an old operating system.
If you’ve opted for a clean install of Windows 10, be sure to check out How to Create a Windows 10 Install USB Drive