Stupid PC question of the day!

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I have never built or modified a PC before, and I'm considering undertaking a pretty large task. No more pre-built garbage! I have done weeks worth of research and have taken every bit of advice about the safety side of things (electricity/cable limitations, PSU limitations, etc.). I'm ready to proceed except for a few odd details. What I can't seem to find answers to are the idiot questions. So I'll ask:

When transferring a CPU from one MOBO to another (obviously with the same chipset compatibility), how to you install Windows on the new MOBO? Or is it even technically installed on the MOBO? Now that I'm typing this, I feel it's the storage device that does this. Is it as simple as removing the SSD from the old MOBO and placing it on the new one, and voila...you pick up right where you left off?!? Or does it require a more complicated process? Basically, I don't want to pay $100 for Windows on the new system, but don't want to do anything shady either. I'd rather remove it from the old one and render the old one useless until when/if I switch back. Or is there an official free version I can download if I can prove I bought it the first time? Aside from this, I think I'm ready. The hardware side of things I feel I can do anything, but I'm extremely software ignorant, if it wasn't already painfully obvious.
 
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That's what I figured, but what about transferring/duplicating/downloading it?

You can usually clone the drive using various software suites; often times the SSD vendors will include them with purchase. How exactly you do it will depend on the software.

That said, I would strongly recommend just backing up all your existing data, creating new install media (google windows 10 download and follow the microsoft links) using a USB Key and doing a format/fresh windows install. It's really easy, and will remove many headaches down the road.

Edit: I can't remember how windows 10 handles it, but I know for a fact windows 11 won't make you activate/migrate keys if you don't want. It'll just won't let you "personalize" the desktop, and will put a watermark on the screen until you do.
 
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Just re-read your post. Installing windows is very, very easy nowadays. Easier than changing oil in your car levels of ease. I just completed a new build last week and literally from POST to hitting the windows desktop/fully installed it takes ~7-8 minutes.

Suggestions for an easy "fresh install" (which is really what you should be doing)
1.) Backup all important files/data/passwords/bookmarks etc. to external physical storage (could be a portable USB key, external HDD, network storage etc.)
2.) Phsyically remove or unplug any HDDs/SSDs/non-windows install media you do not want to erase data from (i.e. you should have a USB key plugged into the system, and a single SSD you intend to make your boot drive).
3.) Boot to the USB key; you can go into BIOS and edit the boot order to make sure it boots to the key first, or just tap F12 at POST.
4.) Follow the 5-6 windows install prompts (agree to licenses, select the drive you want to install to).
5.) Let it load up the files and go through the install. It will come to a prompt asking you to restart (which it will do automatically, so watch).
6.) Remove the USB key before it reboots.
7.) Wait about 5 minutes and let it complete setup/ask you basic setup questions.

Unless you're running a fairly unique config, the latest win10/11 iso is going to have NIC drivers so that when it boots into windows, Windows update can grab all the drivers you need.

It's really easy.
 
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You may not be able to transfer Windows to a new computer. Depending upon your version.

Activation creates a key based on your configuration. Changing too many things can prevent Activation.

The mobo is a biggy.
 
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The activation key for Windows OEM is generally tied to the motherboard now. If you bought a retail copy, you can transfer it over to the new pc, worst case is you’ll have to contact Microsoft so they can do it on their end. Those versions are tied to your Microsoft account. When I added a NVMe SSD to my laptop and did a fresh install of Windows 10 it activated just fine, but the NVMe was the only hardware change and you’re doing significantly more than that.
 
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Just re-read your post. Installing windows is very, very easy nowadays. Easier than changing oil in your car levels of ease. I just completed a new build last week and literally from POST to hitting the windows desktop/fully installed it takes ~7-8 minutes.

Suggestions for an easy "fresh install" (which is really what you should be doing)
1.) Backup all important files/data/passwords/bookmarks etc. to external physical storage (could be a portable USB key, external HDD, network storage etc.)
2.) Phsyically remove or unplug any HDDs/SSDs/non-windows install media you do not want to erase data from (i.e. you should have a USB key plugged into the system, and a single SSD you intend to make your boot drive).
3.) Boot to the USB key; you can go into BIOS and edit the boot order to make sure it boots to the key first, or just tap F12 at POST.
4.) Follow the 5-6 windows install prompts (agree to licenses, select the drive you want to install to).
5.) Let it load up the files and go through the install. It will come to a prompt asking you to restart (which it will do automatically, so watch).
6.) Remove the USB key before it reboots.
7.) Wait about 5 minutes and let it complete setup/ask you basic setup questions.

Unless you're running a fairly unique config, the latest win10/11 iso is going to have NIC drivers so that when it boots into windows, Windows update can grab all the drivers you need.

It's really easy.
I think you skipped a step explaining how to create a bootable USB drive prior to step 3.
 
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You'll need a USB drive, at least 4GB. Google "Windows media creation tool", and you can download it from Microsoft to make a USB drive to install Windows from. Takes a while (about an hour) to download and write to the flash drive the last time I had used it. Trying to boot your existing drive on a new motherboard is likely to have big problems; hardware drivers will most likely be different, and it may crash. Windows will figure out you're on a new machine from the new MAC address; I don't know if you can transfer it to a new machine. If you have a Microsoft account already, you should be able to log on and see what machines and licenses you have.
 
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You have two issues:

1. When you install Windows, it configures your "ports" so that it knows where the address for everything is.

There is also an anti-piracy protection thing that Windows knows what your hardware looked like and knows if you're trying to get shady. Years ago, people would build 50 identical machines and use the same Windows key on all of them. MS wasn't happy with that.

You could try your plan out and it might work if you don't trigger MS's anti-piracy protection. You might get some weird hangs and the occasional BSOD. Best practice would be to reinstall a fresh version of Windows.

Are you going with a glass case with all the lights and stuff? Intel or AMD?
 
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I've pulled Win10 SSD/ HDD out of one system and placed them in another without issue. I strongly recommend that you try "the ridiculously easy & simple" option before unnecessarily complicating things. There are two things that will happen: The first is "nothing" - you'll boot up and carry on with your life as usual. The second is a nagging of some sort by the OS that alerts you that your installation is not properly authorized (or something to that effect) and you may need to make a call to an 800 number.
 
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Don't forget to update your bios first if possible. Most new Mobos allow that to done right at the start, but some require the OS to be installed first. The reason I say this is I built this PC with a Gigabyte mobo, which had SEVERAL bios updates required. The last one made the mobo compatible with Windows 11.
There are also driver updates for Windows (Linux doesn't use component drivers) that will need to be installed. Usually Windows will get these for you and install them upon a fresh install.
 

Pew

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If your current PC is on the "newer" side from an OEM, chances are the key is "built" into the motherboard. For example, on all the HP machines that I've ordered for work in the past ~6 years, the key is built directly into the motherboard (I think it's some sort of module the OEMs build into their motherboards.) Same with the few Lenovos I've done for different clients.

If you actually have the key information (like when you buy a copy of Windows and it comes with the piece of paper with the key on it), you can just use the key on a new computer. While I've never attempted to transfer a "built-in" key over from an OEM computer to a custom one, I don't think it's worth the headache trying to talk to Microsoft.

You can just move the SSD over to the new computer and it can work but it'll give you more headaches versus a fresh install.
 

OVERKILL

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If your current PC is on the "newer" side from an OEM, chances are the key is "built" into the motherboard. For example, on all the HP machines that I've ordered for work in the past ~6 years, the key is built directly into the motherboard (I think it's some sort of module the OEMs build into their motherboards.) Same with the few Lenovos I've done for different clients.

If you actually have the key information (like when you buy a copy of Windows and it comes with the piece of paper with the key on it), you can just use the key on a new computer. While I've never attempted to transfer a "built-in" key over from an OEM computer to a custom one, I don't think it's worth the headache trying to talk to Microsoft.

You can just move the SSD over to the new computer and it can work but it'll give you more headaches versus a fresh install.
They key is in the BIOS on newer computers with UEFI firmware. Made it easier than putting COA's on the chassis, which were easily pirated and added an additional step if the machine was reimaged. This started with Windows 8.
 
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No more pre-built garbage!
we can agree on that. what it will be ?

os is installed on disk, win licence is tied/stored to bios/uefi.
i bought win8 pack (old pc), and reused without hassle same key on new pc win10. now i got the free upgrade to win11...still works.

you do not just swap installed os on disk, to different pc.
drivers etc are different, clean install is required.
you just download from official site the image, then you will be asked for code. (if u dont register, u get the annoying watermark, but pc will work otherwise)
days of cracked installations are over.
https://www.microsoft.com/software-download/windows10
some websites sell keys for less. no personal experience.
nvme ssd must have
 

OilMagnate

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Thank you all for the valuable input. As I said, I don't want to do anything shady and definitely don't want any annoying watermarks or stuff to make it seem like I'm doing something shady. I just want it to work correctly. Based on many replies, it would appear that I'm probably gonna just have to buy a copy. My current PCs are new (i5/i7 11th gen) Dell XPS and HP Omens, so the keys are probably in the BIOS. Unfortunately, I want no part of either of these MOBOs in a new build, so buying a key is the lesser of two evils. I'll still give it a shot and try the simple ways some mentioned above, but I won't get my hopes up.

Looking to build a mining/gaming hybrid rig. Contrary to my software ignorance, I actually fully understand the mining end of things, as well as overclocking. Basically I'll have multiple GPUs running out of one case (whether internally or externally). I know they won't boost gaming performance, none of my GPUs are SLI/Crossfire capable. Only the two 3090s are NVLink compatible, but I don't know anything about that. I just finally realized the true proprietary evils behind the cheap pre-built price tags. I'm not looking to dump a ton of money into the mining side of things, as I'm aware of ETH's [supposedly] imminent POS shift. I'm doing it to have something better than an Omen hotbox to keep around for the next 10 years. It will mostly just be transferring components to a new rig. I'm just buying a decent MOBO, case and a few cooling upgrades. Should cost less than $900 total and I'll have a stellar 3090 build (I already have the GPU).

On a side note, I'm looking for cases and cooling takes absolute priority above all else. Is there anything better or comparable to the Corsair 5000D Airflow or 7000D Airflow? I'm not brand loyal to anything, but those are my front-runners right now. Leaning toward the 7000D Airflow for the extra space to cool things down.
 
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Thank you all for the valuable input. As I said, I don't want to do anything shady and definitely don't want any annoying watermarks or stuff to make it seem like I'm doing something shady. I just want it to work correctly. Based on many replies, it would appear that I'm probably gonna just have to buy a copy. My current PCs are new (i5/i7 11th gen) Dell XPS and HP Omens, so the keys are probably in the BIOS. Unfortunately, I want no part of either of these MOBOs in a new build, so buying a key is the lesser of two evils. I'll still give it a shot and try the simple ways some mentioned above, but I won't get my hopes up.

Looking to build a mining/gaming hybrid rig. Contrary to my software ignorance, I actually fully understand the mining end of things, as well as overclocking. Basically I'll have multiple GPUs running out of one case (whether internally or externally). I know they won't boost gaming performance, none of my GPUs are SLI/Crossfire capable. Only the two 3090s are NVLink compatible, but I don't know anything about that. I just finally realized the true proprietary evils behind the cheap pre-built price tags. I'm not looking to dump a ton of money into the mining side of things, as I'm aware of ETH's [supposedly] imminent POS shift. I'm doing it to have something better than an Omen hotbox to keep around for the next 10 years. It will mostly just be transferring components to a new rig. I'm just buying a decent MOBO, case and a few cooling upgrades. Should cost less than $900 total and I'll have a stellar 3090 build (I already have the GPU).

On a side note, I'm looking for cases and cooling takes absolute priority above all else. Is there anything better or comparable to the Corsair 5000D Airflow or 7000D Airflow? I'm not brand loyal to anything, but those are my front-runners right now. Leaning toward the 7000D Airflow for the extra space to cool things down.
Check out GamersNexus on YouTube, or their website. They do VERY extensive testing on cases for airflow and cooling, as well as CPU coolers. You don’t have to watch their full videos since they do get very technical on some stuff (I.e they go to the point of measuring how flat a cooler is for example), but it’s very useful info.

 
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Based on many replies, it would appear that I'm probably gonna just have to buy a copy.
That is extremely unlikely. I will say again: My money is on "nothing" happening and you just move the SSD and carry on with your life; with a possibility that you spend some time on the phone with Microsoft getting a license transferred or however they process this business.
 
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That is extremely unlikely. I will say again: My money is on "nothing" happening and you just move the SSD and carry on with your life; with a possibility that you spend some time on the phone with Microsoft getting a license transferred or however they process this business.

I had no problems using a DVD that I burned for the Windows installation after my wife's PC's hard drive died. Strangely enough I prepared it on a Mac. I got it right from the Windows website. As long as it recognized the main board and its license, I was good. The PC had a Windows license sticker on the back, but I'm not sure what it would have done.

Not sure what it's like with a retail Windows license, but if Windows was built in with an OEM install, it should be fine.
 
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