Help me plan a system upgrade...

Started Mar 20, 2013 | Discussions
malch
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Re: Win8 to Win7
In reply to Bob Collette, Mar 28, 2013

Bob Collette wrote:

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.

It's the basic Win 8.

Schedules are such that I'm now planning to spend a few days playing with the new XPS 8500 as delivered. This will give me a chance to check everything out and really take a hard look at Win 8. I already have a growing list of specific things I want to look at. Then I'll make a decision whether to go with 7 or 8, start adding hardware, and clean install.

If it's Win 7, I'll use my existing Win 7 Pro. I'll either put Linux or a spare copy of Win 7 Home on the new old machine, probably both!

If it's Win 8, I'll likely buy the Pro pack mainly for BitLocker and the Group Policy Editor. If I'm feeling cheap, I'll switch to TrueCrypt and use RegEdit or something

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Jim Cockfield
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don't know -- disable Win 8 fast startup features....
In reply to malch, Mar 28, 2013

malch wrote:

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.

I don't have one.   I have multiple Dell products, but not that model.  I just suggest it to others because it gets good reviews and has a lot of "bang for the buck".

The Editor for the camera review site I work for has one.  He bought a "loaded" XPS 8500 Special Edition not long ago with a 256GB mSATA SSD (and Dell uses a Samsung 830 chipset for their mSATA models like that), 2TB hard drive, blue ray writer, 32GB of DDR3, Win 8 Pro, Nvidia GTX 660 and more (a system they sell for around $2K retail, but he bought one on sale for a lot less).  He loves it.

But, I'm pretty sure he would have upgraded the drivers by now, as he's good about that kind of thing.

As for your comments about Linux.     Be careful in that area.

Note that if you decide to stick with Windows 8, you'll want to disable the fast boot features.

That's because Windows 8 uses something similar to Hibernate in order to give you faster shutdown and startup; and you can end up with data corruption trying to access file systems that were not completely updated during a Windows 8 shutdown process with other Operating Systems like Linux, because of the way Windows 8 works (as it may leave writes cached in memory stored in a hibernate type file to give you the better shutdown and startup speed).

Here's an article on the subject:

http://www.h-online.com/open/features/Linux-and-Windows-8-Fast-Startup-puts-data-at-risk-1780640.html

IOW, Windows 8 is basically using "smoke and mirrors" to give you the performance increases you sometimes see mentioned as one of it's benefits, because it's not really doing a full shutdown by default, making startup times faster because it's just reloading a file with a memory snapshot (versus starting the OS up from scratch again), probably compressed in some manner to make the reload faster (although I don't understand all of the details about how it works, it's obvious it doesn't really shut down the PC like the shutdown process worked in previous Windows versions).

So, it's best to disable the features like that in Windows 8 to make sure you don't put data at risk when using a different OS to access the same file systems.

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malch
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Re: don't know -- disable Win 8 fast startup features....
In reply to Jim Cockfield, Mar 28, 2013

Jim Cockfield wrote:

As for your comments about Linux.     Be careful in that area.

Note that if you decide to stick with Windows 8, you'll want to disable the fast boot features.

That's because Windows 8 uses something similar to Hibernate in order to give you faster shutdown and startup;

No worries on the new (main) machine. That will be single boot; 7 or 8 is not yet decided.

And "powercfg -h off" is part of my standard desktop install anyway.

My old machine will likely become a multi-boot playbox. Maybe 7, 8, and one or more Linux distros. Again, hibernate will be off although this machine won't be handling any critical data.

My laptop is dual boot (Win 7 and Mint) and hibernation is not disabled. I did notice some warnings when booting into a different OS directly from a hibernation. I don't recall the details but since then I've been careful to do full shutdowns before booting into the other OS.

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Jim Cockfield
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Re: don't know -- disable Win 8 fast startup features....
In reply to malch, Mar 28, 2013

malch wrote:

Jim Cockfield wrote:No worries on the new (main) machine. That will be single boot; 7 or 8 is not yet decided.

And "powercfg -h off" is part of my standard desktop install anyway.

I don't think that has anything to do with the way Windows 8 handles shutdown and startup.  It's similar to hibernate, but it's not the same thing.   You need to specifically disable the fast startup features to prevent problems with it when accessing the same file systems from other operating systems that are installed.

See the second page of the article I linked to.  Note that you'll find separate settings for hibernate and fast startup.  You'll want to disable *both* of those to prevent potential data corruption when access the same file systems from other operating systems (for example, Windows 7 or Linux installs in a multi-boot config with Win 8).

http://www.h-online.com/open/features/Linux-and-Windows-8-Fast-Startup-puts-data-at-risk-1780640.html?page=2

My old machine will likely become a multi-boot playbox. Maybe 7, 8, and one or more Linux distros. Again, hibernate will be off although this machine won't be handling any critical data.

Ahhh.. Install a few Linux distros along with it.

Personally, I'm getting ready to rework my main desktop so that I have OpenSUSE 12.3 installed, along with 64 Bit Win 7 Pro; as well as a couple of other distros like Korora (a Fedora "respin" with added software and repos) and possibly ZevenOS Neptune 3.0 (a Debian Wheezy respin with KDE 4.10.1 on newer software).

OpenSUSE is nice because of it's OpenStudio build service, where you can install the latest software with a mouse click or two (and you can easily build packages for other major distros using it, too).    That way, you have the latest software available very easily.  KDE 4.10.1 is very fast, too; and has loads of nice features you don't get with other window managers).

OpenSUSE 12.3 even supports systems using UEFI and Secure Boot (which is the way your Win 8 install will be setup).

Korora is also interesting because of it's Fedora base (again, you get much newer software that way), as you do with the latest ZevenOS Neptune 3.0 (based on Debian Wheezy, which should be final sometime soon, as it's the latest Debian testing release).

Personally, I rarely run Windows at all; since everything I need is available for Linux (including very nice image management/raw conversion solutions like Corel AfterShot Pro).

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malch
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Re: don't know -- disable Win 8 fast startup features....
In reply to Jim Cockfield, Mar 28, 2013

Jim Cockfield wrote:


And "powercfg -h off" is part of my standard desktop install anyway.

I don't think that has anything to do with the way Windows 8 handles shutdown and startup.  It's similar to hibernate, but it's not the same thing.

On Win 7, that one command will completely nuke hibernate.

As you say, there's probably more settings to be tweaked on Win 8.

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malch
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Upgrade complete
In reply to malch, Apr 11, 2013

Thanks to all for the inputs and suggestions.

I ordered a XPS 8500 from Dell Outlet complete with:

* i7-3770
* 16GB DDR3 1600MHz RAM
* 2TB 7200rpm HDD (actually a Seagate Barracuda)
* Blu-ray ROM + DVD+/- RW optical drive
* Nvidia GT 620 with 1GB
* Windows 8
* Mouse, keyboard etc.

To this I added some existing components:

* 256GB Samsung 840 Pro SSD
* 1TB HDD (WD Black)
* Nvidia GTX 650 Ti with 2GB

I ditched Win 8 and installed an existing copy of Win 7 Pro. I've set aside the GT 620 as a backup/spare for my other machines. Everything has been clean installed and I made a "gold" image of the nice clean system drive a few hours ago.

This represents a good value upgrade over my old Q6600 with 6GB and I'm generally very happy. The system runs fast, but quiet and cool.

Lightroom 4.4 is now usable on my 16MP NEX-6 RAW files but I still wouldn't call it snappy! Less than full marks to Adobe!

I do need to rerun a display calibration since I wasn't entirely happy with the results of my first attempt. This with a U2412M, Spyder 4, and dispcalGUI.

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