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New laptop swapping hard drive question..


New Member
Aug 11, 2019
16 (0.17/day)

So i currently have a gaming PC that i built but due to recent changes in work commitments (now working abroad) i have bought an alienware 17 r5.

My question is - will i need to wipe the M.2 drive which currently has windows and all of my games installed completely before i install it into the laptop? or will be able to just pop it straight into the laptop? I suspect i will have to erase it completely but id rather not for obvious reasons. Also if i have to erase it completely, will i have to buy windows again or will i be able to reuse the code?




Staff member
Feb 27, 2008
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System Name Ironic
Processor Intel 2500k 4.4Ghz
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Video Card(s) Sapphire R9 290 Vapor-X 4Gb
Storage Samsung 860 EVO 1Tb/WD BLACK SN750 500GB NVMe
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Case Antec Lanboy Air Black & Blue
Audio Device(s) SB Audigy 7.1
Power Supply Corsair Enthusiast TX750
Mouse Logitech G502 Proteus Spectrum
Keyboard Corsair Vengeance K90
Software Win 7 Ult 64 bit
You've got several issues here. First off, Windows 10 licenses to each computer. Major hardware changes require re-activation, and there are reports that it will refuse to activate if the changes are too drastic, and contacting microsoft is required to reactivate. That's based on changing out hardware in a single device.
Secondly, the license for the computer you built would be a retail release, and is different than the OEM license installed on the laptop. While you're certainly capable of purchasing a different license to reinstall over the OEM if you choose, the retail version is already licensed to a different computer, and the process of purchasing a new hard drive to replace your laptop hard drive is usually done by reinstalling the new OS on the new drive, in the existing computer.
This brings us to the last concern. In "olden days", there was a decent chance of taking a hard drive from computer A, moving it to computer B, starting in Safe Mode, and then loading all drivers that differed from A to B. This chance was modified based on brands of A and B, age differential between the two due to similar hardware etc. However, these days, the likelihood of being able to take a retail OS from a hand-built desktop, and reinstalling it in a Dell Laptop without a simple continuous bluescreen loop is very low. That being said, 2 weeks ago, I was able to take a Windows 10 retail loaded drive on an HP and move it to a Dell with a bad drive, and with one reboot had a mostly perfectly functioning box. A couple of random drivers updated/loaded, and we were in business.

My recommendation is to make sure you have a backup (full image a la Image for Windows or the like), and insert the NVMe and see what happens, with the expectation that you'll probably need to reload in the new laptop. I wouldn't expect it to work at all, much less without requiring a lot of "tweaking", but I've seen weirder :). Good luck, and grats on the new job :)


Semi-Retired Folder
Nov 22, 2005
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Audio Device(s) Onboard is good enough for me
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Software Windows 10 Pro x64
One of the things to consider is how Windows was installed and what versions are installed on both computers.

The ideal scenario is that Windows was installed in UEFI mode on your gaming PC AND both computers have the same version of Windows installed(i.e. Windows 10 Home or Windows 10 Pro).

If the Windows 10 Install is in UEFI mode, then when you move the drive from the gaming PC to the laptop it will read the product key stored in the UEFI BIOS and activate using that key. But this only works if the version of Windows on the drive matches the key stored in the UEFI BIOS.

Otherwise, as Ahhzz said, you might have to re-activate with the original key you bought when you bought that copy of Windows 10 for the gaming PC. Chances are, if it has been long enough since the last time you activated it, you'll be able to activate it again on the laptop.

That all said, I'd wipe the drive and re-install Windows anyway. Because of all the driver crap that laptops need and the hardware differences between the computers, I always just feel better re-installed when moving between computers.