HOW TO: Windows Installation Thread (includes SATA III, SSD Upgrade, RAID0 Discussion)

Discussion in 'Alienware' started by Mr. Fox, Aug 6, 2011.

  1. Mr. Fox

    Mr. Fox Undefiled BGA-Hating Elitist

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    In addition to the useful information in this opening post, and especially if you are a Windows 8/8.1 (or newer) user, you will also want to check out Philip Yip's awesome tutorials. They are invaluable.

    Here is a link to the Unofficial Guides by Philip Yip

    There are numerous threads that have this information already in them. There's really nothing about the process that is unique to Alienware. There are subtle differences navigating the BIOS and RAID configuration screens on different systems, but the Windows installation process is the same on all systems. The intent of this post is to provide help setting up a clean Windows installation whether using one drive or multiple drives in RAID 0 mode. If you are installing Windows 8, be sure to disable Secure Boot (switch to Legacy Mode) in the BIOS before you start. (Secure Boot does not work for Windows 7.)

    IMPORTANT: Always leave your Alienware BIOS set to RAID. Do not use AHCI. Using AHCI provides no benefit and introduces multiple functional limitations. Using RAID includes AHCI mode by default. Using RAID in the BIOS applies even if you only have one HDD or SSD installed.


    Quick Tip for RAID 0 Setup:
    Simply install Windows to one SSD or HDD with the BIOS set to RAID. After installing Windows to one drive, install RST and create the RAID0 array within Windows using RST. This is a super easy operation and eliminates the need to mess around with F6 drivers. That's the only way I do it any more, 'cause it's so much easier. Once the RAID0 conversion is done, simply go to the Disk Management utility, right click on C: and select "Extend volume" and use up any unallocated disk space. Please note that with HDD the RAID conversion within Windows may take one or more hours depending on the size of the volume. With SSD the conversion process is much faster. Be patient and let it finish. If you interrupt the process, your Windows installation may be unbootable.


    How to Set Up RAID on Your PC | PCWorld Business Center - See Page 2

    (The BIOS and RAID configuration screens shown in the videos below may look slightly
    different than the BIOS in your Alienware, but conceptually the process is identical.)

    [parsehtml]<iframe width='640' height='360' src="//www.youtube.com/embed/5L--ByVvXqw?rel=0" frameborder='0' allowfullscreen=""></iframe>[/parsehtml]Cut to the chase and start watching this at 3:00 mins)

    [parsehtml]<iframe width='640' height='360' src="//www.youtube.com/embed/rgo0OPSw9_E?rel=0" frameborder='0' allowfullscreen=""></iframe>[/parsehtml][parsehtml]<iframe width='640' height='480' src="//www.youtube.com/embed/PsveMWRdNxo?rel=0" frameborder='0' allowfullscreen=""></iframe>[/parsehtml][parsehtml]<iframe width='640' height='480' src="//www.youtube.com/embed/mME9VLT7-xw?rel=0" frameborder='0' allowfullscreen=""></iframe>[/parsehtml](Please be sure to "like" these videos on youtube for the credit of the authors.)

    This will also walk you through setting up RAID in the BIOS, Intel Option ROM and F6 drivers:
    Intel® Rapid Storage Technology User Guide

    Intel® Rapid Storage Technology F6 Driver Download - Windows 7 Installation Drivers
    (select the x64 version unless you are running a 32-bit OS - extract the compressed files from the zip archive and place the extracted files on USB stick)

    Intel® Rapid Storage Technology for Windows 7 x64/x86 - RST Drivers and Intel Control Center
    (after installing Windows using the above F6 drivers, install this package along with the other Intel Chipset drivers that need to be installed)

    Recommendation: Do not use device drivers, Alienware OSD or Alienware Command Center software provided on the Alienware Resource Disc. Download all proprietary Alienware drivers and apps using the latest files posted at support.dell.com. You will generally have good results using chipset, video and WiFi reference drivers provided by the device manufacturers. Alienware OSD and Alienware Command Center should be installed as the last two items on your fresh Windows install. It is recommended that you download and install Microsoft .NET 4.0 Framework and reboot before attempting to install Alienware Command Center.

    Basically, you want to be sure that any drives in the system have only unallocated space before you begin the installation to the unallocated space. (Unallocated space means there are no partitions on the drive.) The series of screen shots below depict what you should see with one HDD. With two drives, one would be called Disk 0 Unallocated Space and the other would be called Disk 1 Unallocated Space. Follow the steps in this series of images during Windows setup to delete any partitions and start with unallocated disk space on the disk volume where you are going to install Windows.

    [parsehtml] [/FONT][/SIZE]<iframe class='imgur-album' width='100%' height='550' frameborder='0' src="http://imgur.com/a/KrelN/embed"></iframe>[/parsehtml]
    Additional Threads:

    Windows 7 Installation Media Download:

    http://forum.notebookreview.com/win...-7-download-links-just-like-vista-before.html

    http://forum.notebookreview.com/win...-digitalriver-windows-7-sp1-13-languages.html

    Additional Resources:

    [HOW TO] Windows 7 Clean Install Driver Installation Order for Alienware Laptops

    [HOW TO] Restore the Alienware Look and Feel After a Clean Windows Installation

    NBR Alienware Userbars! | OFFICIAL AW Wallpaper Pack, User Avatars & AW Login Screen

    Windows Performance Optimization Guide


    How to enable TRIM Command in Windows 7 with a Solid State Drive

    To enable or disable or check the status of the TRIM command, you will need to open an elevated (Administrator) command prompt.





    To Enable TRIM Command

    In the Elevated command Prompt windows, type the following:

    fsutil behavior set disabledeletenotify 0

    [​IMG]




    To Disable TRIM Command

    In the Elevated command Prompt windows, type the following:

    fsutil behavior set disabledeletenotify 1
    [​IMG]




    How do I know if TRIM is enabled?

    In the Elevated command Prompt windows, type the following:

    fsutil behavior query disabledeletenotify

    Note: being enabled means Windows is sending a command
    but this not a guarantee your SSDs are using TRIM.


    Explanation:
    DisableDeleteNotify = 1 (TRIM command disabled)
    DisableDeleteNotify = 0 (TRIM command enabled)

    [​IMG]

    If you cannot find what you need in this thread, please don't start a new thread to ask new questions just yet. If it relates to this thread topic, please ask in this thread.

    Have you searched our forum using Google? This is highly effective. Here is how...for example, using the prefix in red font, you can Google: site:forum.notebookreview.com M18x set up RAID0
    Update 5/4/2012:

    For those interested in adding an extra drive to their Alienware, it is easily done. The entire conversion was about $40 grand total, and it works really great.

    The internal bay I am using is this one: https://www.jacobsparts.com/items/HDDBAY-01/

    Here is the external enclosure I am using for my BluRay burner: 5.25" USB 2.0 CD/DVD Slim Notebook External SATA Drive Enclosure (Black) N-URW-ESATA

    Here is the bezel I found for my slot-load drive in the external enclosure: Silver Bezel for Panasonic 12.7mm Slot-Load Drive-PAN-BEZEL-SS-SI

    And here is what it looks like:
    http://i.imgur.com/KVfo1.jpg>http://i.imgur.com/KVfo1.jpg /> http://i.imgur.com/ayrhf.jpg>http://i.imgur.com/ayrhf.jpg />

    Update 06/05/2012:

    A recent discovery has shown SATA 6GB/s SSD are sometimes dropping to 3GB/s on a new installation or image restore... Reset the BIOS to optimal defaults and reboot Windows. I have tested this 4 times and the last week and resetting the BIOS causes both Port0 and Port1 to operate at 6GB/s. One of the 4 times I had to pull the CMOS battery because resetting optimal defaults did not work. Once this is done, the SATA 3.0 speeds stick permanently on both ports for me.

    [​IMG]

    Once the array is confirmed to be operating at 6GB/s you can return to the BIOS to set your preference for overclocking, USB power sharing, virtualization, etc. This may be a glitch with Insyde 2.0 BIOS that does not affect systems with a different type of BIOS.

    If you continue having issues with your SATA 3.0 SSD running at 3GB/s instead of 6GB/s, try the "LPM Fix" by merging these registry files. [DOWNLOAD LINK]

    Update 07/25/2012: New version of Intel RST. [Download Intel RST 11.5.0.1207] or previous version [Download Intel RST 11.2.0.1006]

    Update 09/22/2012: Latest version of Intel RST [Download Intel RST 11.6.0.1030]

    Update 01/26/2013: Latest version of Intel RST [Download Intel RST 11.7.0.1013]

    Note: Updated links for downloading RST will no longer be provided in this post. You can always find the latest and greatest from the Intel Download Center. You may as well look for newer Intel chipset, WiFi and graphics drivers while you are there grabbing the latest version of RST.



    Windows 8 Information

    Everything about the process of installing Windows 7 that is noted above applies to Windows 8. You do not need special instructions for Windows 8. In addition to what is posted below, you will find more tips to make Windows 8 a good OS here: [ LINK ]

    So, here is my "down and dirty" tutorial. Nothing out of the ordinary, extra fancy or materially different from a basic Windows 7 setup, except for some customization tips which made it work the way I want it to work.

    • Clean install - avoid upgrading from Windows 7 to Windows 8 (You *might* need to upgrade to activate your Windows 8 Upgrade key for the first time, then do a clean install after the key has been successfully activated. Whether this is required is not clear and needs further testing to confirm if it is so.)
    • Set the BIOS for RAID (not AHCI) even if you do not use RAID
    • Install Windows only to UNALLOCATED DRIVE SPACE (meaning delete all old partitions, including system and recovery partitions on the OS drive or RAID array before installing Windows)
    • Windows 8 has native driver support for almost everything (including Intel Chipset and Management Engine) in the M18x R1 except:
      • Intel RST - installed so I could have the RST Control Panel [Download RST 11.7.0.1013]
      • M18x R1 Windows 7 version of Alienware OSD and Alienware Control Center*
      • M18x R1 Windows 7 version of Freefall Sensor*
      • M18x R1 Windows 7 version of Card Reader*
      • NVIDIA GTX 680M Drivers (modded because of the M18x R1 hardware ID, same as Windows 7 - see this post)
    • Install AlienAutopsy: Download AlienAutopsy
    • Install AlienRespawn: Download AlienRespawn
    • Install Windows 8 Media Center (free for a limited time): Add Features | Microsoft Windows
    • Install Start Menu: Start8 for Windows® 8 - Bringing back the Windows Start menu
    • Install Sidebar Gadget support: 8GadgetPack - Gadgets for Windows 8
    Note: Security software is not needed with Windows 8. It has built-in antivirus/malware/firewall protection.

    HELP! I screwed up big time and installed Windows with the BIOS set to AHCI instead of RAID!!! How do I fix this without having to reinstall Windows?
     
    reborn2003 and nightdex like this.
  2. ChaosShadow00x

    ChaosShadow00x Notebook Geek

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    Im thinking about buying twin Vertex 3 SSD's, but if the laptop cant support the 6gb/s i'd think it would entirely be a waste of 500$ to do what a 200$ pair of HDD's could do, with like 10x the storage...

    I've read here and there that people are enabling SATA 3, but does that mean its RUNNING at SATA 3, or that its just using the drives?

    Also, maybe for some perfomance advice, i'll take it from you guys, but i'm looking at this SSD right now:

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820227714

    I plan to buy 2 of them, and configure them for RAID 0. Think its a good move or would should i examine another SSD?
     
  3. Johnksss@iBUYPOWER

    Johnksss@iBUYPOWER Company Representative

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    yes it does.
    but
    you will only see those speeds using sata 3 ssd's in single or raid mode
     
  4. oni222

    oni222 Notebook Deity

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    Yeah but when you see those speeds you will drool!

    I have two of these SSD's and I am getting 1.1gig/s!
     
  5. Johnksss@iBUYPOWER

    Johnksss@iBUYPOWER Company Representative

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    yeah DEFINITELY ^^^^ what he said! :D
     
  6. ChaosShadow00x

    ChaosShadow00x Notebook Geek

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    I'm gana be buying some SSD from this place, this is pretty much my selection:

    Fry's Electronics |

    I'll be considering to pick one up from here. We'll see but i'm also thinking of just going to newegg, and getting a pair of Vertex 3 Max IOPS. I obviously will want something thats fast, but reliable.


    I'm looking to raid0 them, so about 125 gigs each drive will suit my needs. My mass media will be stored on an external. I'm not a huge pack rat for games, i'll keep something till i need more room, and then just bring on the holocaust.

    For the external i'm looking something at 1TB+, preferably 2, but it has to run w/o a power cable so i know that cleaves my choices. Also, ideally it will be small and comfortable to carry. I'm thinking of this thing from newegg:

    Newegg.com - iomega Prestige Portable 1.5TB USB 3.0 Black External Hard Drive 35213

    Also, what will i need to know when i finally do get the SSD in my system? I'm obviously going to want to SATA 6 them, anything special i need to know?

    Thanks in advance!
     
  7. wraithrsw

    wraithrsw Notebook Consultant

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    Just plug em in, update firmware, reinstall windows, etc, and you're good to go. I personally use the Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex 1.5TB USB 3.0. It's faster, cheaper, and I like the warranty.
     
  8. ChaosShadow00x

    ChaosShadow00x Notebook Geek

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    Alright cool, i'll be sure to check the Seagate out.

    As for the SSD, i plan to Raid0 them, but i know that some SSD are just terrible for it while others are a far more ideal choice. If none of the above ones i linked will suffice, i wouldnt mind just going to newegg. It doesnt appear that Fry's has the Vertex 3 Max IOPS i was planning on initially. I'm at least looking for a decent 120 gig SATA 6.0. Would the Crucial's be worth while? Or maybe the kingston Hyper X, its got pretty good reviews on newegg.
     
  9. ChaosShadow00x

    ChaosShadow00x Notebook Geek

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    Bump --

    Its gana be a couple weeks before i actually buy these, but i'd like some actual experience. The guys at fry's are pretty hit and miss, as far as how tech savvy they really are.
     
  10. wraithrsw

    wraithrsw Notebook Consultant

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    Crucial's SSD's hit the sweet spot between price and performance/storage for me. Though the 120-128GB range is certainly more courteous in terms of prices. Kingston is fine as is OCZ.
     
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