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Windows 2000/XP fails to boot after replacing a motherboard

October 30th, 2005 by Jim


Why does Windows 2000/XP fail to boot after replacing my motherboard? Windows 98 used to be okay with this…


I think this is an ACPI issue. When Windows is installed, it appears to configure the exact ACPI driver needed for booting. This is probably done so ACPI detection is not needed on bootup, which would noticeably increase the boot time. If you change the motherboard to a different make/model, there are slim chances that the replacement board will require the same ACPI driver. The end result is either a successful boot (good ACPI driver) or a BSOD (bad ACPI driver).

While I don’t have a Microsoft KB article or respected source to backup my claim, I do have experience with many test cases. My copy of Windows XP has survived new motherboards from Dell, sometimes across motherboard revisions, and even once between a P3 board and P4 board upgrade (Dell P4 mobo purchased on eBay). They must have all used the same ACPI driver, which likely means they are in a related chipset family. This makes sense when you consider Dell only uses Intel chipsets. On the other hand, I have repaired several computers where a new, completely unrelated motherboard had to be purchased, and I received the BSOD because of it.

This post is obviously just a hypothesis. I have not done any research, because it really does not matter. The only cure seems to be reinstalling Windows. 🙁 Does anyone else have any thoughts or suggestions to add to this?

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Revision History

2005.10.30 Initial revision.

One Response to “Windows 2000/XP fails to boot after replacing a motherboard”

  1. chris Says:

    When you receive a BSOD on bootup because of a significant hardware change with Windows, there is always a great chance that you can rescue that Windows installation with a simple reinstall.

    Simply boot from the WinXP CD and be careful not to be tricked into entering “rescue mode” because that is NOT where you want to be (at a prompt, all dressed up with nothing to help you fix your problem). Windows will tell you that it is looking for existing OS / Windows installations and you hope that it will find yours. If it does, it will give you the option to “repair” that installation of Windows.

    When you are down on your luck, this is a godsend. All your settings, your documents, your programs, and your registry will be maintained. Windows will reload the core system files to get you back on your feet. This will take you back to the original files from your install CD, so you will have to apply every update / service pack released since then.

    So if you are lucky, you can salvage the deal before it goes raw. If the bitwise gods do not shine so well on you, there is not much else you can do besides reload windows and loose all your settings / program registry entries.