Recently a friend of mine decided to change his CPU and called me for help (this happens a lot if you are considered the “tech guy” in your group). Because he was upgrading the CPU, he told me that he needed to reinstall Windows and, even more, to buy a new motherboard too.
I was a bit confused with all the details, but after asking for some extra clarification, I found out that he was 100% sure that not only you have to reinstall Windows after a CPU change, but you also need to buy a new motherboard. And all these are, fortunately for those on a budget, not necessarily true.
And in today’s article we will find out if you need to reinstall Windows after changing your CPU.
The thing is that my friend was partially right: there are various sockets for CPUs and you can’t fit one made for a specific type of socket into a different one. In that case – if you buy a new CPU that needs a different socket than the one offered by your current motherboard, you would indeed have to get a new motherboard and reinstall Windows.
But if you do a bit of research, you will most likely find a better CPU that fits the socket that your motherboard has. That is what I helped my friend do and therefore prevented him from spending extra on a new motherboard and wasting time on reinstalling Windows and especially reconfiguring everything as it was before the clean install.
Most CPUs work with different sockets. For example, the one that he got – a mid-budget i5 processor – was available for various sockets. We found one that fit his existing socket, bought it, removed the old processor, replaced it with the new one and restarted the computer. Everything worked out fine and after Windows worked its magic for a little bit, the new CPU was found and working as it should.
So, the short and easy answer would be that you don’t need to reinstall Windows after changing your processor.
BUT you have to consider one important thing: the processor you get as a replacement must be built for the socket your motherboard has. Otherwise it won’t fit and you will have to buy a new motherboard as well and most likely reinstall Windows.
You don’t really have to reinstall Windows even after changing your motherboard or other components, but it’s highly recommended. In my case, I realized that changing the motherboard, adding a new processor and maybe switching to a new GPU is a bit too much for Windows and it might end up giving you errors. Windows itself is known to tie its license to the motherboard, so if you change that you could run into all sort of trouble.
But this is for a different article, because our question is if you should reinstall Windows after changing your CPU – and the answer is NO. Fortunately, Windows will notice the change and adapt.