Upgrading the Motherboard and Processor Without Reinstalling Windows 11


As a PC enthusiast I’m often faced with the decision of reinstalling Windows every time I refresh my system, especially when installing a new motherboard. The internet recommends reinstalling Windows to avoid any potential driver issues that may happen post upgrade.

I recently learned that Windows 10/11 seamlessly upgrades new hardware with very little effort. To say I was skeptical would be an understatement, however, I wanted to learn and see for myself how well it would handle this task.

I started my build with a new ASUS ROG MAXIMUS Z690 HERO motherboard with an Intel 12th generation processor. I threw in the impossible to find DDR5 RAM then started to transfer the GPU, SSD, cooling, and power supply from the old system to the new. Did you know the new ASUS Z690 HERO doesn’t have a header for a speaker? Neither did I which is a bummer since I use it for diagnostic purposes often.

It was go time so I plugged in all of the cables and powered on the rig. After post, the BIOS sent me straight to the settings page. I decided to upgrade the BIOS to version 0811 before proceeding. After a few more reboots, I configured the BIOS, and to my amazement Windows 11 loaded.

I immediately started updating drivers and refreshing device manager to verify everything was installed/recognized correctly. Once complete I sat there amazed how simple the upgrade process was. What was usually a 1+ day event of feeding disks to a computer was now a trivial couple hour process. Even better, the system appears to be stable, and everything works as expected. I quickly jumped back into BIOS, applied an overclock and now I’m sitting happy and stable at 5.5 GHz.

There were a few quirks post upgrade. I’m not sure why (haven’t had time to research) but Steam required a reinstall. After that I learned my entire Steam library was now gone so I had to reinstall my games. Thankfully all save data was intact. I had to re-pair some Bluetooth devices. A few software components required re-activation. Finally, the PowerToys FancyZones layout defaulted so I had to re-apply my custom layout.

I’m going to try a few more upgrades, however, it’s looking like this is my new method of upgrading hardware. I’m really enjoying Windows 10/11.