Ways to Upgrade Motherboard and CPU without Reinstalling Windows

Description: How to upgrade motherboard and CPU without reinstalling Windows 7/8/10? Read this post to get the methods.

Why You Need to Read This Article

Normally, when computer users decide to upgrade their PC hardware especially the major parts like CPU and motherboard, you may ask these two questions:

  1. Can I keep Windows installation, system settings, and installed programs?
  2. Will Windows license key be reactivated after changing motherboard and CPU?

Get Answers

For most home & office users nowadays, a fresh Windows install is not a problem but keeping this tedious job away is necessary.

What’s more, users should be aware of something, for example, reinstalling Windows from scratch will certainly remove personal files, previously configured system and installed applications. Therefore, they do not expect a repeated work of reinstalling them all.

Meanwhile, Windows will reactive after hardware upgrade in Windows 7. For Windows 10, users should choose to reinstall everything including the license.

Thus, I write this post to show how to upgrade motherboard and CPU without reinstalling Windows and some Windows 10 reactivation tricks for a complete and perfect replacement.

3 Ways to Replace Dead Motherboard and Upgrade CPU without Reinstalling Windows

Option One: Use MiniTool ShadowMaker for Universal Restore

The one-stop solution to upgrade motherboard and CPU without reinstalling Windows 10/8/7 is to transfer the system from one hardware to another dissimilar hardware.

To do this, users can choose to use a piece of professional Windows backup software, MiniTool ShadowMaker, to create a system image and restore this image file to a different computer.

To be specific, users need to run this freeware, choose a local backup, specify system partitions for backup, select a target and start a system backup. After that, users should create a bootable disc or USB drive so that they can perform a system image recovery in MiniTool Win-PE.

Next, replace the dead motherboard or change a CPU. Then, users can restore the image file to this PC with the new motherboard and CPU. Due to incompatibility between the previous and new hardware, they should use the Universal Restore feature of MiniTool ShadowMaker to fix the issue to ensure Windows can run properly.

Option Two: Edit Windows Registry

This built-in Windows feature offers users another way to upgrade motherboard and CPU without reinstalling Windows. And they need to change some sub-keys of Windows Registry. This method is complex and asks for a higher level of computer skills, and it is full risks.

Follow these steps to change registry before hardware upgrade:

  1. Open the Run window by clicking Win + R keys.
  2. Open Registry Editor by typing regedit and click OK.
  3. Go to this path: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\services\msahci
  4. Double-click the Start DWORD to change its value data to 0.
  5. Go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\services\pciide.
  6. Change the value of Start to 0.

After that, exit Windows Registry Editor, shut down the computer and replace dead motherboard without reinstalling Windows or upgrade CPU without a fresh install. Windows OS will still be able to run well.

Note: If some users have changed CPU and motherboard but haven’t modified Windows registry, the OS is still unbootable. In this case, users should use an offline Registry Editor to modify Registry.

The steps are pretty complex, so, follow the guide carefully:

  1. Prepare a recovery disc and boot the computer from it.
  2. Click Repair your computer and run Command Prompt.
  3. Type regedit command and press Enter to open Registry Editor.
  4. Choose the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE key, select Load Hive under the File menu to load the offline registry.
  5. Go to find C:\Windows\system32\config\system and open this file.
  6. Type a key name like Offline.
  7. Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Offline\ControlSet001\services\msahci and HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Offline\ControlSet001\services\pciide to change the Start key’s value to 0.
  8. Select Offline and choose Unload Hive to write back the made changes.
  9. Restart the PC.

Activate Windows 10 for Changing Motherboard and CPU

As mentioned above, Windows 7 will activate after the hardware update. But for Windows 10, users need to reactivate it.

Just go to Settings, change the user account to a Microsoft Account instead of Local Account. Then, upgrade CPU and motherboard. Navigate to Settings > Update & security > Troubleshoot > I changed hardware on this device recently. Next, sign in the Microsoft Account again and click Activate.

After that, Windows 10 will grab the activation key from the online Microsoft account, and re-link it to the computer with new-upgraded hardware.


To sum up, option 2 is quite complicated and risky if there is a wrong operation compared to the way offered by MiniTool. I personally recommend using the first way to upgrade CPU and replace motherboard without fresh install.

For the detailed operations on motherboard and CPU update, users can refer to this post Upgrade Motherboard and CPU without Reinstalling Windows 10/8/7 Easily.