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How to upgrade your motherboard the easy way

Follow our guide to ensure you don't run in to problems

You've taken the plunge and bought a hot new motherboard. Here's how to upgrade your motherboard, swap your hardware, and prep your system so that you won't have to reinstall your apps.

Step 5: Check your storage settings
First, check your disk-interface settings. Migrating between chipsets from different companies can be problematic. For example, if you're moving from an nVidia chipset to an Intel one, you'll want to make sure that your PC isn't running proprietary nVidia drivers for IDE. Otherwise, you might experience a blue-screen error on first boot -namely, the dreaded 'STOP 0x0000007' error, indicating that the disk interface is unrecognized.

For this article, I'll be upgrading a relatively standard desktop system with a single boot drive. Similar considerations hold true for RAID setups, however. If you're running RAID 1, you might want to revert to a single-volume setup until you get the system up and running. If you're running RAID 0, it's more complicated if the chipset manufacturers differ; you may have to reimage the volume to a single drive until after the installation. Note that moving from one Intel RAID generation to the next usually works without a hitch.

This is one reason backups are critical: You are changing your primary storage driver.

Note that I'm talking about boot drives here. If you have a RAID 1 or RAID 0 secondary drive, you'll probably be okay - but back up before upgrading anyway. There's always the chance that the new system won't recognise your old RAID volume if you're using the motherboard chipset to handle RAID.

If your machine is booting off an add-in disk-controller board (for instance, a PCI Express SAS or SCSI controller), you might not have a problem with the first boot, but there's no guarantee. You may have to perform a Windows repair (possible with Windows XP or Windows 7, but something you can't really do with Vista).

If you are migrating between similar chipsets (old Intel to new Intel, for example) and are running Intel RAID or AHCI (Advanced Host Controller Interface) mode, update the Intel RAID drivers to the latest version.

Check your BIOS setting to be certain, and make sure your new motherboard's settings are the same before fully booting for the first time. For example, if you're running AHCI in the current arrangement, set your new motherboard to AHCI in the BIOS prior to your first system start.

There are other possibilities as well - and if you have an unusually complex setup, a clean install may be the only way to go.

NEXT PAGE: The upgrade

  1. How to avoid problems
  2. Preparing for the swap
  3. Check your storage settings
  4. The upgrade
  5. Motherboard installation
  6. Making the connections
  7. Post-upgrade follow up
  8. Cross-chipset upgrades

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