Today I had a new challange. A system with Windows 7 installed, containing lots of complicated software (requiring certificates etc), needed a performance boost.
- Mainboard: Asus H97M-Plus
- CPU: Intel i5-4460
- Memory: 8GB DDR3-1600 (2x4Gb)
- HDD: Samsung 850 Evo 250gb
- OS: Windows 7 Pro x64
The goal was to upgrade the OS to Windows 10 (Pro x64), preservering the software installations and in the mean while, boost performance. Luckily the H97M-Plus is equipped with a M.2 slot, so we can use that. The memory got replaced with 2x8Gb = 16Gb and is quite easy to do.
I decided to take the following steps:
- Clone Current SSD to new Samsung 970 Evo Plus M.2 (have old OS as backup)
- Upgrade the M.2 Windows 7 clone to Windows 10
- Convert the MBR (CSM) disk to UEFI (Windows 7 was installed in MBR mode, and so would the clone be. UEFI has many benefits, so it’s recommended to use UEFI)
Clone SATA to M.2.
First I installed the new Samsung 970 Evo Plus M.2 into the M.2 slot of the H97M-Plus mainboard. The computer started Windows 7 but didn’t recorgnize the new SSD. It turns out it needs the NVMe Express driver:
- Download: https://www.samsung.com/semiconductor/minisite/ssd/download/tools/
- Mirror: https://www.zegutdan.nl/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/Samsung_NVM_Express_Driver_3.3.exe_.zip
After the Samsung Express driver was installed, the system needed a reboot. After that, the drive was recorgnized by Windows 7 just fine. Now I was able to clone the drive with Minitool Partition Wizard:
The process of cloning is not difficult. Just start Partition Wizard and select the “Copy disk wizard”. First it will ask to select the source drive. Next, you have to select the destination drive. After that, Minitool will adjust the partition sizes automaticly, so you can confirm and start the clone. That will require a reboot, because Minitool will perform the clone before Windows starts.
Now that the clone was finished, it was time to try if it was succesful. I shutdown the computer and disconnected the SATA drive. Powered on the computer and voila, without changing Bios, the new M.2 was already booting. Windows 7 booted up just fine.
After a few general checks, all seem to be fine. It was time to start the Windows 10 Upgrade. Untill today, that’s still possible with the same Windows 7 License! I downloaded Media Creation Tool and downloaded the latest Windows 10 release:
I chose to download the ISO file to the harddrive. After it finished downloading, I extracted the ISO with 7Zip to a folder, So I could start the setup.exe in the current Windows7 session. This way, the upgrade is started.
It took about 1 hour to finish and no issues occured during the process. Now Windows 10 was ready and seem to work just fine. I checked most software from the previous install, and also seem to work fine.
Now it was time to convert the MBR to UEFI mode. I used this guide for that:
You need to restart Windows into recovery mode (Goto Settings -> Upgrade & Security -> Recovery -> select restart in advanced boot section). In recovery mode, you need to select the command prompt (Troubleshoot -> Advanced options -> Command prompt). In the command prompt, you can check if the drive is suitable for conversion:
If the validations is successful, you can go ahead with the conversion:
In my case, I got 1 notification about WinRE, not able to install. I ignored it and turned out to have no impact on the result. This process is fast, and only needs a few seconds. After finish, you can exit the command prompt and shutdown or restart the computer. Next step is to check BIOS settings if it is configured to start UEFI disks in the bootsection of the BIOS. After I added the UEFI option in boot section, the computer booted up Window 10 in UEFI mode just fine.
Ps. I was checking the new drive speed with atto32 and it turned out, the H97M-Plus has an M.2 slot which is x2. It resulted in read/write speed of 750 mb/sec. I mounted the M.2 on a generic PCIe-2-NVMe (x4) card. The H97M-Plus recorgnized and booted the M.2 just fine after that. Now the read/write speeds were 3GB/Sec!