Help me plan a system upgrade...

Started Mar 20, 2013 | Discussions thread
Jim Cockfield
Forum ProPosts: 14,801
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Re: Well, Jim, you were right
In reply to malch, Mar 27, 2013

malch wrote:

Going for a XPS 8500 from Dell Outlet with coupons is my best option.

Hopefully, you used the latest ones (as I just got some via e-mail recently that offered various discount amounts, depending on the system price).  These (good through April 1, according to the e-mail I got with the link to these specials):

http://www.dell.com/Learn/us/en/22/campaigns/spring_clearance_event_dfh?c=us&l=en&s=dfh&cs=22&dgc=EM&cid=261190&lid=4711539&delphi:gr=true

Just ordered one with i7, 16GB RAM, 2TB drive, Optical drive etc.

When it arrives, I will add some existing hardware:

* GTX 640Ti video card

Do you mean a GT 640, or GTX 650Ti.  Nvidia doesn't make a GTX 640Ti card.

Note that some of the refurb XPS 8500 listings have an Nvidia GT 640 in them already.  You just have to be a good shopper to find the best overall deals when searching through them (and the listings change very often, too).  You'll  find some using a GT 620; GT 640 (and Dell using faster GDDR5 in their OEM version of the GT 640, versus slower GDDR3 used in the retail version), as well as a GTX 660 (very fast card).    They sell them with ATI cards, too.  But, personally, I prefer the Nvidia chipsets.

* Samsung 840 Pro 256GB SSD

Great SSD.

* 1TB WD Black

Have a few questions:

1. Is it easy to identify the SATA ports on the motherboard, and their order, if that matters?

I think that SATA 0 and 1 are both SATA III ports, and SATA 2 and 3 are SATA II ports from what I can see of discussions about them.  So, I'd use either SATA 0 or 1 for the SSD.

2. I'm guessing it will arrive with the BIOS set to UEFI. I'm inclined to turn that off. Any thoughts?

You can't just turn it off, since the Windows 8 install is using it.  You'd need to reinstall Windows 8 from scratch to switch to a legacy MBR setup.

That's going to be an issue with Dell Systems that come preinstalled with Win 8, as I get the feeling from previous threads about it that the recovery disks you can create will expect the original UEFI setup to work; and that Dell is no longer shipping standard Win 8 install disks with them.

Because OEMs like Dell are using a new Win 8 activation technique where you don't have a COA sticker with a valid license code (it's embedded into the BIOS firmware), you can't just download a copy of Win 8 and install it either.

Basically, you'll need to "jump through hoops" to get a Windows 8 install disk that includes a valid license key in order to reinstall it.   Fun.

Now.... it's my understanding that this software might work for that purpose.  Yea... it's approx. $20.

http://www.paragon-software.com/technologies/components/migrate-OS-to-SSD/

But, it may save a lot of trouble trying to get Win 8 working on your SSD; as from what I'm seeing from forum threads about it, most other migration software is just not going to work properly trying to move an existing Win 8 install setup to use UEFI to an SSD.

Of course, I'd still contact Dell and explain that you need a Win 8 install disk and valid license key so you can do that kind of thing yourself (since their DataSafe software allowing you to make recovery disks is not going to work with a smaller SSD from reports I've seen about it, and will expect to see a UEFI setup for recovery purposes).

3. What SATA drivers to use? I assume the thing will be set to AHCI. If not, I'll do so. So when I clean install it will pick the default (I guess msahci.sys). Do you recommend running with that or replacing with Intel drivers? msahci.sys didn't get along with my current system and I had to install the Intel drivers to make Win 7 run with AHCI.

Well.. again, you'll probably need a Windows 8 install disk and valid license key (something you're not going to get with the XPS 8500 you ordered from what I understand about how they're shipping the Win 8 machines now) in order to attempt a reinstall on the SSD.

So, I'd probably try the $20 Paragon software to see if that works for you.   Chances are, the system is already using AHCI with compatible drivers installed, so you wouldn't need to change that part.  Just disable Secure Boot in the BIOS settings and leave the rest as is and see what happens using that type of migration tool.

Or, if you prefer a clean install, contact Dell and argue that you need a Windows 8 install disk and license key to use for that purpose.   Or, install Windows 7 instead if you have a valid copy with a license key.

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JimC
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