Even if your PC meets the hardware requirements for Windows 10, will everything work fine? This past week, we performed a migration for a relatively powerful computer running Windows 7 to Redmond’s latest. No issues with the installation, but we did end up encountering some hardware and software compatibility issues once during the driver update phase. We run through things you should watch for so you can avoid the pitfalls we encountered.
|CPU||Intel Sandy Bridge Core i7-2600k|
|Motherboard||Gigabyte P67 Chipset GA-P67A-UD7-B3|
|RAM||Corsair 8 GB (4 × 2GB kit) DDR3|
|Video Card||2 × PNY GeForce GTX 670 2 GB in SLI|
|Sound Card||Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi XtremeGamer Fatal1ty Pro 7.1|
|Storage||Samsung EVO 850 1 TB SSD|
|TV Tuner||Diamond ATI TV Wonder HD 650|
Issue #1: Hardware Not Supported
In theory, any hardware supported by Windows 7 or Windows 8 should also work in Windows 10. However, it really is determined by whether or not the manufacturer for the device has posted an updated Windows 10 driver.
We discovered an issue with the sound card as the speakers did not produce any audio whatsoever. A look into Device Manager showed that Windows 10 detected the sound card but could not use it due to a lack of drivers. Windows 10 includes some basic device drivers but unfortunately it seemed the sound card wasn’t supported out of the box. So we turned to the manufacturer’s website for updated drivers.
It turned out that Creative did not have a Windows 10 driver for it, nor would they be developing one because that particular model is no longer supported. Since not having audio wasn’t an option for this performance system, we brainstormed three possible solutions.
Solution 1 – Wait for Creative to hopefully release new drivers
This first option wasn’t on the table for very long, as we needed this system to be up and running in the same working order in Windows 10 as it was for Windows 7. We could be waiting for months—assuming they even have plans to update drivers for legacy hardware.
Solution 2 – Buy a new sound card
We did not have a budget for a new sound card, but purchasing a current model still supported by its manufacturer is the safest bet. But even if it is supported, ensure that Windows 10 drivers are already available. You don’t want to purchase one only to discover Windows 10 drivers are still in development.
Solution 3 – Use a third-party sound card driver
We ended up going with the third option. With a net cost of zero, it allowed us to keep all hardware more or less working without spending a dime. Third party drivers replace manufacturer drivers and vary in quality. Some perform better, some just as well, and some worse.
For our build, we used Auzentech drivers. The biggest issue so far has been intermittent sound lag. In all other respects, it performs well enough.
Issue #2: Hardware and Software Not Supported
The next problem we encountered with our Windows 10 migration involved the discontinued Windows Media Center program and a PCIe TV tuner card. The ATI tuner card worked well with Windows Media Center, which Microsoft unfortunately axed for Windows 10. However, the writing was already on the wall as Microsoft charged for WMC for Windows 8 (It was bundled in Windows 7). For our system, the problem was compounded by the fact that our TV tuner was no longer supported.
We spent quite a while trying to get personal video recorder (PVR) functionality back in Windows 10. Here were the solutions we identified.
Solution 1 – Use an alternative PVR program
Windows Media Center users had known for months that it would not be supported by Microsoft so a quick Google search resulted in several forum threads about alternative PVR software. We tried several free PVR programs mentioned in those threads in Windows 10 but none worked as they were incompatible with the ATI TV tuner card.
Solution 2 – Purchase a new Windows 10 compatible TV tuner
Unfortunately for this Windows 10 migration, a PCIe TV tuner purchase was necessary. We did not have to worry about driver support and PVR software was bundled with the card. Getting PVR functionality in Windows 10 required several hours of research and $100 for a Hauppauge WinTV-HVR-2255 TV tuner card.
So after several hours and some troubleshooting, we successfully migrated a system to Windows 10 with nearly all functionality intact. Small audio issues persist due to the third party audio drivers but at least no purchase was necessary. Changing the TV tuner and PVR program was unfortunate but at least functionality was maintained. All in all, installing Windows 10 was for the better.