Help me plan a system upgrade...

Started Mar 20, 2013 | Discussions
malch
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Help me plan a system upgrade...
Mar 20, 2013

So my Dell XPS420 (Q6600) is starting to struggle with CS6, LR 4 et al and I'm starting to think about an upgrade. It has an excellent storage system which I plan to migrate to the new machine. That comprises of:

* Samsung 840 Pro SSD with 256GB
* Two 1TB WD Blacks
* Various USB2 and USB3 externals

Here's where I'd like to get to:

* Case: Cool, quiet, easy access, and space for at least 4 HDD's

* Motherboard: must have LAN,  SATA ports for 4 HDD's, multiple USB3 ports, and decent on-board audio (I have some excellent 2:1 speakers but don't want to add an audio card).

* CPU: i7 aiming for the price-performance sweet spot. Don't plan to overclock.

* RAM: 16GB

* Video: I like Nvidia drivers and have occasional use for CUDA. Needs to drive a U2412M which is calibrated with a Spyder4/DispcalGUI. Would like 2GB of RAM (have an app that can use it). I'd really like it to be quiet (fanless would be great since my 8800GT drives me nuts). I'd also like to plan for adding a second monitor at a later date. Workload is photo, some video, no gaming.

* DVD: cheap. I'll probably transfer my existing drive

* PSU and Cooling: Whatever. I'd like this system to be quiet but am not going to spend a fortune to achieve silence.

Budget isn't fixed but with careful shopping, I figure this is doable for somewhere around $750-800.

Need some ideas esp. with respect to the MB and video.

Samsung i7
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hotdog321
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Re: Help me plan a system upgrade...
In reply to malch, Mar 20, 2013

Sounds great! Some of the real PC pros will probably offer pinpoint suggestions on gear. But a big thumbs up on the i7, 16 GB and SSD. That's what I'm using and it makes a difference.

The only thing I would tweak is the DVD. Personally--and this is personal--I love having a CD/DVD/Blu-ray reader/writer. But I backup on Blu-ray + HD.

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Birk Binnard
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Re: Help me plan a system upgrade...
In reply to malch, Mar 20, 2013

You are on the right track - I recently rebuilt my system to include an i7-3770S (S = low voltage) and an 840 Pro.  The 840 Pro is a truly spectacular drive, and it has a 5 year warranty to boot. The i7's 8 threads make quick work of rendering HD video.

For a motherboard I chose the ASUS P8Z77M which is a micro-ATX board. This board has all the necessary features but only one slot for a full-size video card - meaning it won't do SLI video.  That's ok for me because I don't do gaming.  The key thing is the Z77 chipset - this is the latest Intel offering and supports internal (CPU-based) video.

That means that if you are ok with using only 1 monitor you don't need a separate video card.  I use 2 monitors so I got a low-cost EVGA GT-630 card to handle them. I think I could use the internal video on the motherboard to add a 3rd monitor some day, but this is unlikely.

The case I used is the Thermaltake A30.  This is a small form factor case but it has room inside for 2 SSD's (and I have 2), 2 optical drives (I have a Blu-Ray R/W and a DVD/R) and internal bays for 2 3.5" HDD's (I have a 500GB and a 1 TB.)  In addition there is one slot for an external  3.5" drive which is where I have a multi-function card reader.

The P8Z77M supports USB3 and USB 2 - needless to say USB3 is far superior.

One tricky thing is the power supply - I had to search for one that had 6 SATA power connectors - most supplies have only 4.  The OCZ 650 has 6 (actually 8, 4 on each of 2 modular cables) and it has been working great. A modular PS is a good idea because the A30 case is small and eliminating extra cables is nice.

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Jim Cockfield
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Dell XPS 8500
In reply to malch, Mar 20, 2013

Just buy a refurb Dell XPS 8500.

You can get one brand new XPS 8500 with a Core i7 3700, DVD writer, plenty of USB 3.0 and 2.0 ports, integrated card reader, dedicated video card, 8GB of 1600Mhz DDR3 (2x4GB leaving two slots open),  7200rpm hard drive, Windows, Wireless N, Bluetooth, etc. for $699.99 delivered right now if you're a good shopper (and I'd be happy to PM you with links).

Or, just buy a refurb instead (Dell Outlet has a 35% off coupon code available on the XPS models that's good through tmrw (March 21), and refurbs have the same warranty as a new machine.

Reviews indicate that the XPS 8500 it's a very quite machine, and it's 460 Watt PSU (which allows a video card drawing up to 225 Watts via it's connections for video cards) should support anything through the Nvidia GTX 660 (Dell sells them with that card).

It's got an mSATA port for an SSD (and Dell sells them with a Samsung 256GB 830 series mSATA drive). Unfortunately, Samsung doesn't sell their mSATA models via retail channels. But, you could go with a Crucial M4 series mSATA drive (cheaper option), or an Intel 525 series mSATA drive (faster and more expensive option with a 5 year warranty) if you wanted to install one yourself.

I do see multiple refurb listings right now that include a 256GB SSD and 16GB of RAM, Blu-Ray drive and more right now though (that you buy for under $1K after the current 35% off coupon code).

That way, you'd have an mSATA SSD for the OS and Programs and could install up to 3 hard drives + an Optical Drive. Basically, it's got 4 SATA ports (2 SATA III, 2 SATA II), with only two 3.5" drive bays. But, if you're OK with only 1 Optical Drive, you could use the other Optical Bay for a 3rd Physical Drive. That would give you an mSATA SSD for the OS and Programs, an Optical Drive, and 3 Physical Hard Drives (2 using the 3.5" bays, 1 of them in an Optical Bay using a 5.25" to 3.5" adapter).

Then, go external for more. For example, I bought a 4 Bay SATA enclosure not long ago from newegg.com for around $100 (including an eSATA Card) for use with my desktop.

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Jim Cockfield
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Meant quiet versus quite. ;-)
In reply to Jim Cockfield, Mar 20, 2013
Reviews indicate that the XPS 8500 it's a very quite machine, and it's 460 Watt PSU (which allows a video card drawing up to 225 Watts via it's connections for video cards) should support anything through the Nvidia GTX 660 (Dell sells them with that card).

That should have read quiet versus quite. 

Anyway, see this post for links to reviews mentioning that about them.

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/post/41994923

Basically, I see some refurb listings for  machines that Dell is selling for $1699 new that you could get for  under $1K right now after a coupon code (loaded with 256GB SSD, 2TB drive, 16GB memory, Blu-Ray, etc, etc.

But, the 35% off coupon code is only good through tmrw.

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Robert Schoner
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Re: Dell XPS 8500/Question
In reply to Jim Cockfield, Mar 20, 2013

Hi Jim,

How expandable are the Dell PC's? I've been to their site but I don't see anything about empty drive bays, available PCIE slots etc.

Thanks,

Bob Schoner

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Jim Cockfield
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Re: Dell XPS 8500/Question
In reply to Robert Schoner, Mar 20, 2013

Hi Jim,

How expandable are the Dell PC's? I've been to their site but I don't see anything about empty drive bays, available PCIE slots etc.

Thanks,

Bob Schoner

Hey Bob.

As mentioned in my first post, the XPS 8500 only has two 3.5" drive bays.

But, it also has two 5.25" optical bays.

The MB has 4 SATA ports (two SATA II, two SATA III). So, if you only need 1 optical drive, you could install up to 3 physical drives (using the extra optical bay for a third drive). Since it also has an mSATA slot, you could install an mSATA SSD for the OS and Programs in it (without using any of your SATA ports or drive bays). plus 3 physical hard drives (two of them in the 3.5" bays, one of them in an optical bay), plus an optical drive.

AS for PCIe slots, don't expect to run dual video cards or anything. It's got a single PCIe x16 slot for a video card, and they all come with a dedicated card (Dell sells them with the ATI Radeon HD 7570, 7770, 7870; or Nvidia GT 620, 640, GTX 660 models), and a Wireless N card with Bluetooth (standard on all XPS 8500 configs I've seen, using an Intel Chipset in a mini PCIe slot). But, they also have 3 free PCIe x1 slots you could use for other cards (eSATA card, TV tuner, etc.)

They also have 7.1 Surround Sound with audio jacks on the back, and plenty of USB ports:

  • REAR: (2) USB 3.0, (4) USB 2.0, Audio Jacks, RJ-45 (Gigabit Ethernet)
    Front: (2) USB 3.0, MCR
    Top: (2) USB 2.0 (One Powershare) Microphone, Headphones

In addition, you have a dedicated card reader (already built into the XPS 8500).

IOW, it should be fine for the vast majority of users, unless you're a gamer that wants a Crossfire or SLI Video dual video card setup setup that would need support for more than one PCIe x16 slot (the Dell XPS 8500 only has one x16 type card slot that's suitable for a video card).

It also has a 460 Watt PSU that allows a video card drawing up to 225 Watts (and Dell sells them with the Nvidia GTX 660 or ATI Radeon HD 7870 cards, which are fairly high end video card capable of playing about any game you'd want to throw at one at their highest settings).  But, you could replace the PSU if you needed an even faster card (as a number of users have done).

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Robert Schoner
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Re: Dell XPS 8500/Question
In reply to Jim Cockfield, Mar 20, 2013

Hi Again Jim,

Thanks for getting back so quick,

I missed your comment about the 2 bays. I have accumulated a few hard drives over the years  with data on them so I just keep adding. One day I'll get some new, bigger ones and transfer. I think the combination of bays would work for me.

I asked about the PCI slots because I have a Coolscan 4000 that needs a Firewire port. My current ASUS P5B MB has one but I also have a PCI card that I could use if a machine does not have a port.

It looks like Dell has gone almost completely Windows 8. In the Outlet Store I only found one with Windows 7 and that was about $1400 IIRC.

Bob Schoner

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malch
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Re: Dell XPS 8500
In reply to Jim Cockfield, Mar 20, 2013

Just buy a refurb Dell XPS 8500.

You can get one brand new XPS 8500 with a Core i7 3700, DVD writer, plenty of USB 3.0 and 2.0 ports, integrated card reader, dedicated video card, 8GB of 1600Mhz DDR3 (2x4GB leaving two slots open), 7200rpm hard drive, Windows, Wireless N, Bluetooth, etc. for $699.99 delivered right now if you're a good shopper (and I'd be happy to PM you with links).

Yeah, it's certainly an option.

OTOH, I already have the SSD and two HDD's. I don't really need an optical or a Windows license either.

Although there are some great XPS 8500 deals which negate the cost the problem I'd be stuck without a spare SATA port (Optical plus my existing SSD and HDD's).

Hmmmm, I guess I could solve that nicely with a USB3 dock.

That leaves me having to replace the video card if I want Nvidia and CUDA versus ATI.

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Jim Cockfield
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Re: Dell XPS 8500
In reply to malch, Mar 20, 2013

Just buy a refurb Dell XPS 8500.

You can get one brand new XPS 8500 with a Core i7 3700, DVD writer, plenty of USB 3.0 and 2.0 ports, integrated card reader, dedicated video card, 8GB of 1600Mhz DDR3 (2x4GB leaving two slots open), 7200rpm hard drive, Windows, Wireless N, Bluetooth, etc. for $699.99 delivered right now if you're a good shopper (and I'd be happy to PM you with links).

Yeah, it's certainly an option.

OTOH, I already have the SSD and two HDD's. I don't really need an optical or a Windows license either.

Although there are some great XPS 8500 deals which negate the cost the problem I'd be stuck without a spare SATA port (Optical plus my existing SSD and HDD's).

Hmmmm, I guess I could solve that nicely with a USB3 dock.

That leaves me having to replace the video card if I want Nvidia and CUDA versus ATI.

Well.. you can install up to 3 Physical Drives + an Optical Drive (as the MB has 4 SATA ports), plus an mSATA SSD.

Then, go external for the rest. I bought a 4 port Enclosure that included an eSATA card (SATA III with port multiplier features) for $79.99 on sale not long ago after a promo code at newegg. So, they're not very expensive if you're a good shopper.

As for video cards, if you want Nvidia, Dell sells 'em with the Nvidia GT 620, GT 640 and GTX 660 cards.

They're just not very flexible on which configs you can add which cards to.

Their OEM version of the GT 640 is probably the best deal. That's because it's got virtually the exact same specs as the retail GTX 650 (using GDDR5 versus the GDDR3 used by the retail GT 640 cards). IOW, like the GTX 650, it's got 384 CUDA cores (like both the retail GT 640 and GTX 650 models), only the Dell OEM version uses faster GDDR5 (whereas the retail GT 640 uses slower GDDR3).

But, if you wanted a "screamer", go with a machine equipped with a GTX 660 instead (Dell sells them that way).  Or, just get a machine with the base Radeon HD 7570 (or Nvidia GT 620) that Dell sells them with, and buy a faster card later if needed.

Personally, I'd just get a refurb, as they have a 35% off coupon code on the XPS 8500 that's good until midnight tmrw. But, the listings are a bit "sparse" right this minute. So, you'd have to refresh them often to find a better deal. I do see some with 16GB of DDR3, 2TB Drive, 256GB SSD (and they use a Samsung 830 series mSATA model), HD 7700 (a faster ATI card), Blu-Ray and more for $1470 right now (meaning under $1K after the coupon code). But, if you want to add to one yourself, just buy one of the $1K (before 35% off coupon code) listings and add more stuff yourself later.

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Jim Cockfield
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refresh often, use the coupon codes. ;-)
In reply to Robert Schoner, Mar 20, 2013

Hi Again Jim,

Thanks for getting back so quick,

I missed your comment about the 2 bays. I have accumulated a few hard drives over the years with data on them so I just keep adding. One day I'll get some new, bigger ones and transfer. I think the combination of bays would work for me.

I asked about the PCI slots because I have a Coolscan 4000 that needs a Firewire port. My current ASUS P5B MB has one but I also have a PCI card that I could use if a machine does not have a port.

It looks like Dell has gone almost completely Windows 8. In the Outlet Store I only found one with Windows 7 and that was about $1400 IIRC.

Refresh the listings often (as sometimes they'll change every few minutes, especially when they have coupon codes for more off).

BTW, they have a coupon code for 35% off the XPS 8500 refurbs right this minute.  So, those $1400 machines (which are very loaded) would run you under $1K after the code.

http://www.dell.com/Learn/us/en/22/campaigns/gdo_days_of_deals_dfh?c=us&l=en&s=dfh&cs=22&dgc=IR&cid=250066&lid=4705181&delphi:gr=true

But, it expires tmrw.  So, if you want to get that kind of a deal, I'd buy today.

Of course, the better deals are for the $1K boxes (under $700 after a coupon code for a nicely equipped machine with a Core i7 3770, 8GB of memory, 1TB 7200rpm drive, Wireless N, Card Reader, etc. etc. etc.   Then, just add to one yourself later.

That's the way I always buy from Dell (refurbished from Dell Outlet, using a coupon code for more off).  From my perspective, there's no downside, since they have the same warranty as a new machine and you can find some great deals that way.

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Jim Cockfield
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Drive Enclosure Deal...
In reply to Jim Cockfield, Mar 20, 2013

Then, go external for the rest. I bought a 4 port Enclosure that included an eSATA card (SATA III with port multiplier features) for $79.99 on sale not long ago after a promo code at newegg. So, they're not very expensive if you're a good shopper.

Attached is a Screen Capture from my account history there. I bought that deal in September 2012.

Just keep an eye on the e-mail promos and you can find some deals like that from time to time.

Sure, it probably wouldn't win any awards for quality. But, for an eSATA Card with SATA III specs and port multiplier support ( with drivers for Linux and Windows) with a 4 bay SATA Drive enclosure for $79.99 (thanks to a combo deal where it was cheaper to buy the card/enclosure combo versus just the enclosure alone), I can't complain for the price (I'd spend almost as much for a one or two drive docking station, without any card to go with it).

Full size image link:

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/4536228/enclousre_1.jpeg

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malch
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Re: Dell XPS 8500
In reply to Jim Cockfield, Mar 20, 2013
Personally, I'd just get a refurb, as they have a 35% off coupon code on the XPS 8500 that's good until midnight tmrw. But, the listings are a bit "sparse" right this minute.

I'm not really ready to press the button yet.

But, yeah, you're right. I looked at rolling my own taking advantage of a lot of components that I already have. It will still cost me more than an XPS 8500.

I'm okay with that -- I've have owned quite a few Dell's and been very pleased with them so no anti-Dell stigmas here!

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malch
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Well, Jim, you were right
In reply to malch, Mar 27, 2013

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

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

* Samsung 840 Pro 256GB 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?

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

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.

4. It will arrive with Windows 8. I'm wondering whether to try that or just install Win 7. It will be a clean install either way. If Win 8 is going to offer performance advantages, I'm inclined to give it a shot. Obviously, I'll have to decide which route to take to ditch Metro but that's not a big deal.

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Jim Cockfield
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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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malch
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Re: Well, Jim, you were right
In reply to Jim Cockfield, Mar 27, 2013

Jim Cockfield wrote:

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

Sorry, GTX 650Ti.

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.

Thanks. I thought that might be the case and will proceed accordingly.

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.

Ick. Well, as far as I'm concerned, having a real install disk is a must and I will not compromise.

I'd like to have that option with Win 8 and will investigate further. But I'm not going to make a career of that and if it doesn't work out, I'll just xfer Win 7 Pro from my old machine. I think I have a spare copy of Win 7 Home that I can put on that although I may just install Linux.

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pixelstore
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Re: Dell XPS 8500/Question
In reply to Jim Cockfield, Mar 27, 2013

Jim Cockfield wrote:

The MB has 4 SATA ports (two SATA II, two SATA III).

Slight correction, Jim.

The XPS 8500 motherboard has 4 SATA ports, but only one of the motherboard ports is SATA III. The other three are all SATA II. The motherboard also has an mSATA slot. The mSATA slot is SATA III.

Dell originally advertised the 8500 as having two SATA III ports and two SATA II ports, but, as some purchasers found out the hard way, that turned out not to be true. Dell apologized, said it was a mistake, and later corrected the manual. The owners manual currently shows that SATA Port 0 is a SATA III port and that SATA Ports 1, 2 and 3 are all SATA II ports.

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malch
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Re: Dell XPS 8500/Question
In reply to pixelstore, Mar 27, 2013

pixelstore wrote:

The XPS 8500 motherboard has 4 SATA ports, but only one of the motherboard ports is SATA III. The other three are all SATA II. The motherboard also has an mSATA slot. The mSATA slot is SATA III.

Thanks for that info. Not a huge deal here but clearly, I need to put my SSD on Port 0!

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malch
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Re: Well, Jim, you were right
In reply to Jim Cockfield, Mar 28, 2013

Jim Cockfield wrote:

 Chances are, the system is already using AHCI with compatible drivers installed, so you wouldn't need to change that part.

I'm very curious what Storage Controller drivers are installed by default. If you have a second, could you take a peek at Device Manager on a XPS 8500 and see what drivers/versions you have installed currently.

I'm guessing it's a Intel drivers but probably 11.1.0.1006 versus the 11.7.0.1013 I just installed here.

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Bob Collette
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Win8 to Win7
In reply to malch, Mar 28, 2013

Malch, I don't know what version of Win8 the Dell comes with.  However, from what I've read, if it's Win8 Pro, you can "downgrade" to Win7 pro.  You'll have to call Microsoft to get Win7 Pro activated, but it's an option if you want to stick with Win7.

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