Build or buy?

Started Oct 14, 2012 | Questions thread
Jim Cockfield Forum Pro • Posts: 16,342
Go mSATA, use a recovery disk to install Windows on it

vwcrusher wrote:

Thanks for the advice guys....I was thinking of a refurb dell 8500. Though I am assuming that in order to put the OS and Applications in the SSD you would have to essentially start over from a system perspective, unless things have change more than I know......

I'd go with a Crucial M4 Series mSATA SSD with an XPS 8500.   That's because the XPS 8500 has an mSATA slot that works with them, and you'd save a drive bay that way.  IOW ,the XPS 8500 has two 3.5" Drive bays for Physical Hard drives and if you buy a system with one hard drive, you could add another one later to the second bay.

So, using an mSATA SSD allows you to have an SSD for the OS and Programs, a Physical Drive for your data and images, and you could add another Physical Drive to the other 3.5" Drive bay later, too.    It also has a spare optical bay if you wanted to use it for another drive.   Using an mSATA Drive saves those drive bays and SATA connections for more internal drives later.  Then, if you wanted even more storage, go external via USB 3.0

Right this minute, you can get a 128GB mSATA drive for $106.99.  That's enough to handle your OS and Programs with room to spare.

But, if you wanted a larger drive with more space for future use and so you could store some other stuff on it, too, they offer a larger 256GB mSATA Drive that's priced at $206.99 right this minute:

Your best for installing one would be to use the built in programs on the Dell PC to create a recovery disc, and you could use either a DVD or a USB flash drive for that purpose.

Basically, create the recovery disk, shut down the PC and plug in the mSATA SSD.   Note that you'll need two m2x3mm screws to secure it (that don't come with the drive).   I'd disconnect the cables from the physical SATA drive in it at that point.

Then, boot into your BIOS Setup (F2 on most Dells), and make the mSATA Drive the first choice in your boot order list and Save your changes.  Then, continue booting into the recovery DVD you created and follow the prompts to install Windows.

After Windows finishes installing to your SSD, boot into your system without the recovery DVD and make sure everything on the SSD works OK.

Then, reconnect the cables to your physical SATA Drive and you're all set. You could format it so that the original Windows install isn't eating any space on it if desired, too (or just leave it there if desired, in case you had a problem with the SSD and wanted to change the physical drive back to being the first boot choice in your BIOS again).

Here's a forum post from someone that upgraded memory and installed a Crucial M4 Series mSATA SSD in an XPS 8500 that shows the steps involved.   The poster used an 8GB USB Flash drive as the recovery media, but a DVD would also work.

You can find m2x3mm screws on Ebay or Amazon.   For example, here are some:

Lower priced from U.S. Based EBay Vendor:

Or, if you don't mind waiting longer for them, you can get a 100 pack of m2x3mm screws for $3.50 with free shipping from a Chinese Vendor.

But, you only need two screws to secure the drive.

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